If you take a page out of the history books, you’ll know that Gujarat and Maharashtra were once together. I won’t get into the details of what happened, but today both are two distinct states. However, if you visit the two states, you’ll find quite a few similarities. From people’s lifestyle, food and even language. A lot of Maharashtrians stay in Gujarat and many Gujaratis in Maharashtra, Mumbai to be specific.
During my slow travel in Mumbai, one of the places that I wanted to visit was Shree Thaker Bhojanalay to try out their famous Gujarati Thali. I’ll share my dining experience at one of the most popular places for an authentic Gujarati thali in Mumbai.
Serving Since 1945 – Shree Thaker Bhojanalay
As I travelled on the local train from Bandra to Churchgate, little did I know I’ll fall in love with fort. The area around the Gateway of India that goes till CST and the port. The colonial era buildings and victorian architecture will make anyone fall in love with it. I’ll have a separate blog post on it. Walking past those buildings and beating the traffic, I entered the narrow alleys of Kalbadevi. One of the busiest areas and markets in Mumbai is also home to one of the oldest restaurants in Mumbai – Shree Thaker Bhojanalay.
Started in 1945 by Mangal Purohit, Shree Thaker Bhojanalay serves only one thing and that’s an authentic Gujarati thali. They’ve been following the principle of doing one thing but doing it right. Dubbed to be the best Gujarati thali in Mumbai, I’ve been longing to visit it since I first saw it on my Twitter timelines. I can also say that this is probably the only restaurant that’s super active on social media, be it Twitter or Instagram. I sometimes feel the big chain of luxury hotels must learn from these guys.
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay Review – Is It Worth It?
Simple & Rustic Ambiance
They say that places that serve delicious food often have simple surroundings. Located right opposite a school, Shree Thaker Bhojanalay is in a cramped building off an extremely busy street. Amongst all the boards, you’ll spot this one easily though. Walk into a fairly old and dingy alley, and take a flight of narrow stairs to the first floor to reach the restaurant. Not one of the most welcoming places, but we’re in for the food. Similar is the case with Kesar Da Dhaba in Amritsar.
Once inside, you’ll forget everything that you saw outside the restaurant. Air-conditioned restaurant with ample seating space. However, the crowd will make you feel otherwise. You’re greeted with a huge wall of celebrity photos who’ve dined here. A confirmation of their quality food. This actually reminded me of Parathe Wali Gali, the first shop there also has a celeb photo gallery. The interesting part is it’s pre-paid. You first pay at the counter, you’ll get a token in return. Someone will guide you to the table and then the process will start!
Talking about the price – I’ll be frank here – it costs Rs 600 per thali. I was actually stunned to hear the pricing for a simple Gujarati Thali. I reconfirmed whether what I heard was right and it was. The Gujarati Thali at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay costs Rs 600. Having eaten Gujarati Thalis in Amdavad at Gordhan Thal, Gopi Dining Hall, 600 was steep. However, since I was there to experience this, I ignored it and took a table.
Simple & Authentic Gujarati Thali
If you’re also visiting alone like me, be ready to share the table with someone. Once at the table, just signal one of the servers and get ready to witness the food parade. From papad and chutneys to starters and mains, the huge thali is filled in the blink of an eye.
On the day I had dhokla (my favourite), samosa and pakodi for starters. And then there was Undhiyu-based curry, homestyle Bhindi(ladyfinger), Alu (potato) curry, Peas curry, Gujarati Kadhi and dal. There was steamed rice along with Khichdi. For desserts, there was Aam Ras, Basundi along with Gulab jamun. There was also poori, phulka, bhakri along with daal baati (I wonder why) and chaas.
Coming to the flavours, they were authentic. Each and every dish felt homecooked and the masalas were mellow. I judge a Gujarati Thali by the consistency of the Gujarati Kadhi and this was spot on. Even the sweet dal was perfectly done. The curries were rather simple but complimented the dal and kadhi perfectly. Bowl after bowl and phulka after phluka, I relished each and every morsel of phulka with kadhi.
It barely took about 25 mins and I was full. I had a couple of servings of Aam Ras and Basundi and both were pretty good. This mighty thali let me tell you is an unlimited Gujarati Thali and the servers are there to feed you to death. Even before your mind can process what it wants, your thali will be refilled. Hence you must be quick to tell them whether you want that serving or not.
Final Verdict: Steeply Priced but authentic Flavours
Having spent my childhood in Gujarati my taste buds have become masters in Gujarati cuisine. More than north Indian food, Gujarati Kadhi/Dal with phulka is kind of my comfort food. I’ve eaten Gujarati thali at the best of the best places in Ahmedabad and know exactly if the thali is good or bad. This Gujarati Thali at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay is an authentic Gujarati Thali. The flavours are proper Gujarati and so are the dishes. You will not find a Paneer subzi or a Rajasthani kadhi in it. Only after I had it, I realised why it’s called the best Gujarati Thali in Mumbai.
However, I do feel that the thali is steeply-priced. I don’t know the reason behind it. The place isn’t fancy and neither are the ingredients, hence shedding out those 600 bucks didn’t amuse me. Anything around 350-400 would be justified for the food, but 600 is surely on the steeper side. Gordhan Thal and Gopi in Amdavad serve equally good thalis at half the price.
Nonetheless, it’s no less than a heritage place. With more than 70 years in service, Shree Thaker Bhojanalay is an eatery loved by all. People from all walks of life come here to enjoy a good, homely Gujarati thali. So the next time you’re in Mumbai and you have some time at hand, make sure to visit Shree Thaker Bhojanalay to experience the best Gujarati Thali in Mumbai. Let me know how was your experience!