Brightly coloured walls antique décor

We’re always on a lookout for new restaurants and varied cuisines, so when Soda Bottle Openerwala opened at Cyberhub in Gurgaon last year, we had to succumb to the gods of gastronomy. We’ve stayed in Maharashtra for a couple of years and have tried quite a few Parsi/ Irani cafes then. The taste of Kayani Bakery’s Shrewsbury biscuits and Goodluck Café’s kebabs will forever lilt on the edge of our tongues. So when we visited the new Parsi café in the National capital, we were left stumped.

As we entered Soda Bottle Openerwala we thought we had taken a quick trip to the past (maybe a couple of decades, if not more). The brightly coloured walls, antique décor, stained glass panels, rickety window frames with delicate curtains that cover half-way, wooden section separators, vintage telephones, clocks wall hangings and glass top tables with checkered red white lacy table cloths, every element lent such an authentic ‘pop’ feel that even before we glanced through the menu we soaked in the ambience at leisure.

A mix of contemporary yet period décor at the Khan Market outlet

If the ambience helped us happily settle in, the food outdid any previously heard of expectations. We started with the Bombay street food (who, in their right mind, wouldn’t want a bite of that?) The Vada Pav (INR 70) and Bohra Keema Pav (INR 375) were outstanding. The former literally had the flavour we were so acquainted with in its home state, and the latter clean bowled us. Crispy with a full-bodied flavours, these work well with a tangy chutney and the Raspberry Soda (INR 85) that is iconic to a Parsi eatery. We thought it would be sweet, but we were glad it had a balance of flavours.

For the main course, we opted for a vegetarian Dhansak (also available in Mutton) and Veg Berry Pulao (Chicken Mutton options for non-vegetarians too). Dhansak, a classic Parsi dish made of lentils and vegetables, is served along with a huge helping of rice, garnished with caramelised onions and salad. The Dhansak (INR 415) came in a tiffin carrier sort of contraption, one below the other. The Berry pulao (INR 395) is a must try here! We urge you not to leave the premises without trying to shovel a heap of the aromatic rice, topped with fried onions, a generous helping of berries and roasted cashews. Brilliant, is an understatement, we’d say!

For dessert, as one of us can’t help but try more than one, we opted for a couple of the Shrewsbury biscuits (INR 15 per piece), Lagan nu custard (INR 175) and the Parsi dairy farm kulfi (INR 200). The kulfi, served as an inch-thick disc wrapped in butter paper, was creamy and exquisite, while the Lagan nu custard was warm and not overly sweet.

The dying breed of the Parsi community, a community that celebrates its culture, heritage food, received a major shot in the arm with AD Singh’s Soda Bottle Openerwala, bringing its culinary scene onto the mainstream since last year. A cuisine that was earlier restricted to certain parts of the country has got its share of limelight in the capital city, and now in other metro cities of India (Bangalore, Hyderabad soon to open in Mumbai). Soda Bottle Openerwala is a place that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy all over.


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