Mumbai – making the best of Thane

This post is primarily for my colleagues and other business travellers who come to work in Thane as there is really no reason for a tourist to ever come here. Thane is effectively an overspill satellite city for Mumbai and there’s nothing old or particularly interesting to see. Here are a few suggestions for entertainment from the city portal. My dedicated Google map for Thane is here.

I stayed at the Fortune Park Lake City Hotel www.fortunehotels.in located in the same building as the Jupiter Medi-Park (a hospital) which is just at the end of the Eastern Express Highway in Laxmi Nagar, Thane West. Drivers often have problems finding it as so if you’re using an app like Ola or Uber (I recommend having both) it’s best to stay in the lobby until they call you so you can hand over to the receptionist who will talk them in.

The hotel itself in functional but unexceptional. The staff are friendly and there are a fair amount of options for breakfast (fresh fruit, big pots of tea and masala dosa for me) and there’s a small pool on the top (tenth) floor where you can get a good view of the tower blocks being constructed above and around you.

In terms of places to eat, the hotel/hospital building is right next door to the Viviana Mall www.vivianamalls.com, one of the biggest malls in the city. It’s probably the easiest and best option for somewhere to go in the evenings.

As well as a 4D cinema and lots of clothes and sports shops, there’s a generic food court on the top (third) floor with all the usual names like KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King and Pizza Express, as well as about twenty other Indian chains.

Here’s three of them that aren’t too bad, in order of preference…

SodaBottleOpenerWala (Intermediate B+), Ground Floor, Viviana Mall, www.sodabottleopenerwala.in

This is my favourite but I’ve already blogged it in this post on Parsee and Irani cafes. However in a nutshell, the best dish was the Mutton Dhansak (B+), a Parsi classic stew of lamb, vegetables and lentils served with caramelised onions, brown rice and Kachumbar.

Also good is the Salli Botti (B), a traditional Parsi mutton curry topped with potato salli (small fries) and served with Pav (bread buns). I had this with Vegetable Berry Pulao (B); where Basamati rice is cooked with meat or in this case veg and topped with fried onions, nuts and berries from Iran. It was quite a large portion so I took half of it away for lunch the next day.

These next two places are outside on a side balcony off the top floor, before you get to the food court. A sports bar sits between them.

Rajdhani (Low Intermediate B-), Second Floor, Viviana Mall

This is the Thane branch of a national chain that I used to frequent when I lived in Delhi. It only sells one thing; an all-you-can-eat Rajasthan-style thali which involves a tray of about ten or so curries and sweets in little dishes with various breads and chutneys. Your dishes will be constantly refilled until you ask them to stop. To be honest the food isn’t amazing, all B/C, but it’s a fun experience and perfect for when you’re really hungry.

The Yellow Chilli (Intermediate B-), Second Floor, Viviana Mall, theyellowchilli.com

This was #6 in Thane on TripAdvisor in Feb 2019. It’s one of a chain of over fifty restaurants opened by celebrity chef Sanjeer Kapoor who has collected recipes for the menu from all over India. There is a very large choice on the menu so it’s a bit hard to identify the best stuff. I visited twice.

I had the Tandoori Murga which is good (B). As is the Chilli Chicken (B).

The Rogan Josh was less enjoyable (C) but the Kachumber Raita was nice (B).

I really liked their Roomali and Pyaaz Mirch (garlic and chilli) Rotis, especially with some ghee poured over them (B+).

Mindful of my waistline I swerved their signature dessert; Gulab e Gulkand, (served with a rose petal) despite the fact that I really love Gulab Jamun.

The nicest thing is actually the Paan mouth cleanser you get at the end of the meal. I’m not so keen on the Tamarind sweets though (C).

And for drinks…

The Irish House (Intermediate B), First Floor, Viviana Mall

Yes, I know ‘Irish’ pubs are a cliché but for me this had the best environment of the four drinking establishments in the mall. It’s a big place which gets quite popular at the weekend, especially when an important cricket match is being shown on the big screens. They have a happy hour between 5 and 8 when everything is two for one. They serve food but I haven’t tried it.

If you fancy a bit of adventure mixing with the ordinary folk rather than with the middle classes in the mall, you could go to the Upvan Lake area which is no more than 60Rs and ten minutes away in a rickshaw.

There are various family entertainments here, such as riding a gilded carriage around the lake. Video here.

I came one evening to try out the food at this place near the lake…

Mamledar Misal (Elementary B), below Hotel Amantran, Dr Moose Marg, Jambli Naka, Thane West, www.mamledarmisal.com

This is the original location of a small local chain that was #1 and third most reviewed eatery in Thane on TripAdvisor in Feb 2019.

The sit down area was actually closed when I went but the manager of the takeaway section kindly took me to another of their locations just around the corner. If you find yourself in the same situation, you basically turn right out of the original place, turn left at the T-junction and in less than one hundred metres on the right you’ll see the small archway/tunnel in this picture. Your destination is just to the right of it. Their in-house video is here.

Local people come here to eat Misal (a Marathi word meaning “mixture”) which is a very popular spicy dish in the state of Maharashtra.

The ingredients are a combination of Usal, a curry made from beans and tarri, a spicy gravy. It’s usually a small one-dish meal, but is served here as Misal Pav where you get a couple of bread buns with it (Pav I think comes for the Portuguese for bread, Pau).

I squeezed on to a tiny table with three other people who were surprised to see me but very happy to help me order. I was fortunate that two of them spoke English but you could take your chances with the spiciness and order by pointing at other people’s food. At this shop you can specify how spicy you want it, ranging from mild to medium to very spicy. My table companions advised mild but I reckon I could have handled the medium at least.

As well as a sweet lassi, I also had Wada Usal, a potato balls in the same curry sauce.

And that was my experience of Thane. I spent seven nights there and hope I never have to spend another, but I did get down to downtown Mumbai on my day off (about an hour’s drive when not in the rush hour and about 700Rs or £8 one way in a small car on Ola), for details of which, please see my other post Hanging out in Churchgate.

Off to Goa next…

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