1001 Jean-Talon O.
Bus: STM 16, 80, 92, 179, 435
Visit: March 27, 2013
One of the types of cuisine that I got to try thanks to this blog was Indian. Last year, I got to try my very first Indian restaurant in the month of March. Just about a year later, it was time to expand that repertoire with a second place. When you ask around about the top places to try for Indian, there is always that one name that comes up a lot, Bombay Mahal.
After 3 years doing this Burger Search, I have tried a great deal of places that I would never set foot in if it wasn’t for this blog. Through time, some of my colleagues have become more aware of this and we now spend time talking about the places we want to go to. Last year, with my visit to Mahli Sweets, I got to try Indian for the very first time. It was one of my colleagues who spearheaded that visit and I was very thankful of that. This year, I figured we make it a yearly thing and this is why we ended up at Bombay Mahal.
Bombay Mahal is located on Jean-Talon, just east of L’Acadie. The immediate neighborhood is very crowded when it comes to the area of Indian cuisine. As a matter of fact, just about every corner at that intersection houses an Indian restaurant. With that kind of competition, your game has to at its best.
When you enter the restaurant, you see two very distinct rooms. The cashier’s counter is at the back, right corner and it is fully staffed at all times. You’ll notice the amount of people hanging around this particular spot. It’s like the restaurant’s entourage and they just happen to set up their business right there. The phones are constantly going and those are not the landlines.
We were seated at the very front, next to the windows. The concern from one of our group members was that the possibility of it being very cold, but that turned out to be something we forgot about very quickly. Being seated right next to heaters completely negated any fears of the cold.
The colleague who recommended Bombay Mahal happens to be a regular at the restaurant. This is where the night got interesting and we started getting the personality of the place. With monthly visits, any server starts to get used to you. This colleague asked for a diet soda. To that request, the server refused. Then, a list of other soft drinks was requested, to which, the server just refused to each of those. What was the reasoning behind all the negative responses? Well, the server simply said, “you’re coming to an Indian restaurant to eat. Diet drinks are the least of your concerns.” This showed me the amount of interaction needed to take it to the next level.
Then again, this was our experience at the restaurant. I’ve read a number of online reviews and heard from other people that stated the opposite. Indian servers have that very dry sense of humor and that serious tone when you go there. They remind me a lot of Chinese servers in that sense. If you’re patient and you’re willing to wait it out, you might get that chemistry you want. If you really think about, the food might be more important.
The menu at Bombay Mahal has your wide variety of dishes from most of the major meat categories. What really caught my attention was the amount of vegetarian dishes that’s offered on the menu. With that in mind, half of our order went towards the vegetarian route. At the end of things, the lack of meat made no difference in our perception of the meal, which was a real plus.
This pakora dish is made with cauliflower chick peas, flour, and spinach. The whole thing is served with chutney.
To start things out, we had these appetizers, which in a way, remind me of samosas. Both are quite vegetarian and pakoras have a more spicy element to them. Without the accompanying chutney, you still get that kick of spice. In all, it wasn’t such a bad way to get things started.
One of the iconic dishes that just had to be ordered was the butter chicken. We actually had two chicken dishes and this one was my least favorite of the two. Anyways, both dishes delivered to our expectations.
For me, I could tell there was this slight taste of butter, which I would have never have expected. The pieces of chicken were quite generous and never left me doubting for any moment.
These are pieces of chicken cooked in a clay oven.
Of all the dishes we ordered, the chicken tikka was the one that I remembered the most. The chicken was cooked rather well and was quite tender. The items that came with the chicken, for me, were really non-essential to my enjoyment of the chicken. In all, they were decoration.
This is smoked eggplant sauteed with onions and various spices, garnished with coriander.
Of all the dishes we ordered, this was the one that I was the most indifferent to. It’s not something that you would eat by itself. The combination with either the naan bread or the rice would be best. Here, it went really well with the rice.
This is spinach was cooked with cheese and garnished with tomatoes.
Compared to the baingan bharta, the palak paneer was a lot more memorable to me. The combination of cheese and spinach was hard to ignore. Again, what made it even better with the naan and rice combinations.
One of the major accompanying elements was naan bread. This bread was quite easy to pull apart and made the meal so much easier to proceed with. The bread was actually quite good with or without anything in it. One of the things I made sure to do was to put pieces of chicken inside a makeshift wrap. That made things interesting.
I’ve grown up all my life eating Chinese rice. I don’t ever claim to be an expert in anything related to Chinese or Indian food, but here, I noticed something quite quickly. The grains of rice in Chinese cuisine are a whole lot shorter than the grains you see here. That’s just what I noticed seeing these, but I might be wrong.
Using the rice was crucial when you had either the baingan bharta or the palak paneer. Rice, by itself, is bland. But, mixing it in with the other sauce-type dishes maxed out its potential, but that’s common sense.
Despite what I heard beforehand or afterwards, our experience at Bombay Mahal was mostly positive. Most of the dishes were pretty good choices and reflected the best Indian food experience we could have. While you don’t go to places like this for the service, if you’re lucky, the interactions you’ll have something memorable.