Somewhere inside High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel, home to expensive brands and gourmet restaurants lies a little food haven. A place where you can get a stomach filling meal for 150 bucks a head. (No its not Subway. Or McDonald’s) A place where I ate some of the tastiest dhaba style gravies and greasy parathas.
It was the monthly end-of-the-month Kadka for the Pet Pujaris. (Remember I had spoken about them here?) This time the place was an unassuming, unknown, unheard little joint inside the Phoenix compound. We were off to eat at the Sai Service Station staff canteen! I was a bit wary at first, but the promise of yummy, thela-type Chinese and Indian fare tempted me.
We walked up the staircase into a small, tiny room, packed with communal tables. The menu consists of a list of 30 odd items ranging from Chinese dishes such as Schezwan Fried Rice and Hakka Noodles to gravies such as Butter Chicken and Palak Paneer to rice dishes like Biryani. The best part was that the most expensive dish I remember seeing on the menu was 80 bucks, with an average price of a dish around 60-70 rupees.
The food was so much better than I’d expected. The gravies were just as good as something you’d get at a moderately priced restaurant or a dhabha on the road. The Chicken Hakka Noodles were reminiscent of a meal you’d get in a college canteen. All the vegetarian gravies I tried: Kadhai Paneer, Chana Masala, and Veg Kolhapuri were decent, with the Veg Kolhapuri being the unanimous pick of the lot. The Chicken Makhanwala had huge chunks of chicken doused in this tomato gravy which was not too sweet. Perfect! It tasted absolutely yum with the flaky parathas that we ordered alongside. The Egg Bhurji was the typical bhurji you’d get at a street side stall, albeit with an over dose of chillies. The Dal Tadka was average but came with a layer of floating ghee on top. Skip the bland Paneer Biryani with too many peas, and opt for the masala laden Egg Biryani instead.
Be prepared to eat with the staff and mechanics of Sai Service. If you’re too high and mighty for that, kindly move your butt over to Indigo or Smoke House Deli next door. Remember, staff gets first preference. (The diner is really for them, after all). It may not be the cleanest place, so if you’re a hygiene enthusiast, kindly move your butt over to Indigo or Smoke House Deli next door.
All in all, decent food and total value-for-money. We ended up paying only 150 rupees per head for all the food that we ate. Sundar, Sasta, Tikau!