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Why you should stick to vegetarian fare at this Lower Parel eatery

Lower Parel’s Crystal recently added a non-vegetarian section to its menu, but like most of its neighbours on the block, struggles to offer a tasty fare

Crystal Punjabi Tadka
Food: Average
Service: Quick
Ambiance: Cramped

When Crystal first opened in Lower Parel, the pricing took us by surprise, especially since it was particularly steep compared to its iconic parent outlet in Charni Road. Still, we kept going back. The reason was simple: the food tasted better than any of the other budget restaurants in the neighbourhood.

The Mix Platter at Crystal offered a decent mix of kebabs
The Mix Platter at Crystal offered a decent mix of kebabs

So, when we heard that Crystal had added a non-vegetarian section to their menu, we were curious to drop by for a visit.

The non-vegetarian fare is as vast as the vegetarian section; however, it is cooked in a separate kitchen (as stressed by the manager). Here again, the pricing is a major concern: The Non-Vegetarian Thali is priced at '180 (for Combo Meal) and Rs 230 (for Deluxe Combo Meal); chicken dishes cost nearly Rs 200, whereas the mutton dishes start at Rs 240. Even the rolls come for a steep Rs 140; that too, when the very popular Kathi Kabab Rolls is just a few blocks. Still, we chose to ignore these warning signs, especially due to their reputation for serving great food. We shouldn’t have.

To savour their kebabs, we ordered for a Non-Vegetarian Mix Platter (Rs 425) for starters, and Mutton Bhuna, (Rs 240) with Lacha Paratha (Rs 35); for the mains, we picked the Chicken Tikka Biryani and Non-Vegetarian Deluxe Combo Meal. For our drinks, we opted for the Sweet Lime (Rs 30), which unfortunately was high on sweetness but low on lime. Minus marks.

MAP

The platter arrived in time, and included six different succulent kebabs. The quantity was enough to satisfy a group of six. So far, so good. But our joyride was shortlived. Our next orders were disappointments one after the other — the Mutton Bhuna, for some reason, had uncooked capsicum in it, the Lacha Paratha was a bit too dry.

The Deluxe Combo Meal was the worst of the lot — it included two small portions each of Amritsari Chicken (curry) and Pahadi Chicken, Dal Makhani, and rice, each served in small bowls. The rice provided a much-needed comic relief, as we stared and chuckled at the quantity. But we weren’t done yet; even taste-wise, it failed to stimulate our taste buds. The oil-heavy Chicken Tikka Biryani failed to impress as well.

As if its tall, hard-to-reach tables and tightly-packed seating weren’t reason enough, Crystal Punjabi Tadka now makes things more difficult with its below average non-vegetarian fare and small servings. Our advice: stick to the vegetarian fare, or stay away.

At: Crystal Punjabi Tadka, 2, Building A, Shinde Building Compound, next to Phoenix Towers, SB Marg, Lower Parel.
Call: 24990099

Crystal didn’t know we were there. the guide reviews anonymously and pays for its meals.

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