Having spent a good five years in Pune, Iranian cafes were a part and parcel of those glorious years. I say glorious because those were the college years, spent without much or any worry, of sitting idly in cafes thinking of what the future holds, of having little, or sometimes no money, and hence sharing that chai and bun maska. It has been a while since I graduated, left Pune and that life behind. Walking past ‘SodaBottleOpenerWala’ in Cyber Hub brought back so many memories.
Most old time Parsi households I have been to exude nostalgia. Their decor, artefacts, and the tales they tell are all fascinating. To me, SodaBottleOpenerWala starting from its unique name to the food, decor, and chef Anahita Dhondy were all truly interesting. “Hi, I am Chef Anahita and I am Parsi,” she said as she smiled sweetly at us. My exposure to Parsi food was limited to Irani chai, bread pudding, caramel custard, and bun maska. Infact as a vegetarian I wasn’t even sure they were many more options for me to choose from. Anahita walked us through the menu explaining how their endeavour was to have a vegetarian option of all the well known Parsi dishes.
SodaBottleOpenerWala is all set to serve authentic Parsi food as well as famous street food of Bombay. Our meal began with cold coffee, Masala Thumbs Up, and Vada Pav. The best part was being told that the pav was made in-house. Pav makers from Bombay have been brought in to ensure that the taste is as authentic as can be. The vegetable cutlet for me is a must order dish, the crust was delightful and the vegetables inside cooked to perfection. This was served along with tangy tamarind chutney and freshly cut salad onions with a green chutney. Next was the onion bhajiya which were surprisingly light and crisp. A perfect winter afternoon dish.
Anahita went from table to table speaking to customers, answering questions about the place, cuisine, and giving us glimpses into the Parsi way of life. “We are around 650 – 700 Parsis in the Delhi NCR region,” she told me. To give us a brief about the next dish that was brought to the table she told us how eggs form an integral part of the Parsi cooking. She insisted that we try the Parsi bheeda par eeda which is essentially eggs on okra. “We do not like to waste our food and so the leftovers from the previous night are usually used for breakfast the next morning. This dish can be made with any vegetable, usual suspects being aloo and bhindi.” The best thing about this dish is that it can be eaten anytime. It is an all day snack or a meal by itself.
We sat there enjoying our meal soaking in the feel of the place whilst watching the wait staff scurry from table to table ensuring everything was perfect. We ended our meal with the famous Lagan nu Custard and the Apple Pie with custard. Along with this we ordered for some Iranian Chai and Fetta Coffee. The Lagan nu Custard is a cross between a bread pudding, caramel custard, and crème brulee and with such a lineage it ought to have been good. The Apple Pie with custard was a perfectly complemented dish as well.
I did not see any baby chair yet but the place does look welcoming of children. They have a pool table within the restaurant and Cyber Hub provides ample space outside the restaurant premise for children to run around. SodaBottleOpenerWala also has an outdoor seating option which makes for a perfect spot during the winters. Whether a quick office lunch break, or a leisurely first date lunch, SodaBottleOpenerWala according to me has something for everyone. A must visit if you are looking to try a new cuisine or simply savour some of those lovely dishes that form a part of the Bombay street food culture.
Location: Cyber Hub, DLF Phase II, Building No. 8, Gurgaon – 122002
Contact number: +91 124 651 8801, +91 8527 636 633
Cost of a meal for two: Rs. 1500/- to Rs. 2000/- (excluding alcohol)