7 Reviews / 7 Ratings
As good and rare a Thali, as a sensible woman...
Like all great places that continue to hold their own in the age of McDonalds and KFC, this place has a story. An endearing one.
It's good karma is what keeps it going.
Patrons include labourers, bade seth's, old single parsee women, skull capped mia's - it's more than evident that FUJC is doing something right to attract such a fan following from diverse, potentially meat-loving people who come here for some wholesome vegetarian goodness.
Hats off to Mr.Purohit. For not dressing up his waiters like actors on a stage. For not being so patronizing that you'll wish he's leave you alone to enjoy your meal. Or for keeping the spread simple, nourishing and tasty.
Unlike some other (pretentious, garish and needlessly expensive) thali joints in the vicinity, FUJC scores on it's fare, simple presentation, solid cutlery and brassware and disarmingly delicious fare.
You're served small portions - only so that you waste as little as possible.
The meal is well balanced - loaded with roaghage, carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins and a touch of saurashtra goodness : jaggery, chilli and haldi to temper everything nicely.
The owner asks once if the food is good and leave you alone : you'll never find him smiling needlessly, hovering around your plate until you get uncomfortable.
The waiters are trained to make you at home, without exchanging any pleasantries.
Give it a shot, if you're done with eating in the fanciest places in town. You'll find it easy to understand why, at Rs.150 it's the best meal your money can buy you in big bad Mumbai.
If you're still not convinced, think about why of all the places in the world, Dhirubhai Ambani ate here when Kokilaben was out of town. One bite into their small jowar roti - and you'll find all traces of doubt - melt away.
Best Gujarati Thali in Bombay for 150 Rs
I have stayed in Ahmedabad for 2 years and after coming back to Bombay after my PG i could not believe that Restaurants charge 350 for a Gujarati Thali with limited sweet dishes. That is like twice of what they charge in Gujarat for half the quantity.
I went to quite a few Gujarati Thali places before i went to this place on day 2 of Ranji Trophy Final. Its located on 1st Floor of a building opposite to Kalbadevi Temple.
The Gujarati thali for 150 bucks is extremely good. You can have a dessert for 30 bucks. For 2 desserts along with Thali , 210 Rs is still a very good deal. On Weekends, they have 2 desserts in 200 bucks along with extra farsan. That is a superb deal in itself. Its a must visit for anyone who is a fan of Gujarati Thali in Bombay.
Also, ask Mr Purohit at the counter to tell you the story about why the place is called Friends Union Joshi Club. That's a lovely story in itself :) If you are a fan of restaurants which have a great story around it - Friends Union Joshi Club will captivate you :)
Cheap unlimited Gujarati thali
There are are some good options for unlimited Gujarati / a mix of Gujarati-Rajasthani cuisine in Mumbai. Some of the well-known ones are Samrat at Churchgate, Chetana at Kala Ghoda, Golden Star Thali at Charni Road, Shree Thakkar Bhojanalya at Kalbadevi and last but not the least Rajdhani, Panchavati Gaurav and Indian Revival outlets which are scattered over the city. These places not only boast of delectable food but also good ambience and hospitable service. And most people dont mind paying Rs 275 to 350 for a meal.
But what if you want to satisfy your unlimited thali cravings when youre low on cash? I suggest you head straight to the no-frills Friends Union Joshi Club, an establishment thats a little over 50 years old. It may sound similar to a fancy-schmancy restaurant but its nothing close to that. They serve simple, rustic home style Gujarati food. I call it a no-frills place because unlike the restaurants mentioned above, FUJC doesnt have A/C, soft lights and music or their staff dressed in colourful traditional Gujarati-Rajasthani costumes warmly greeting customers with smiles. This place has the ambience similar to an Udipi restaurant. But were here for the cheap food, remember? So lets jump to that.
Thali joints have a slightly different menu eveyday, with the most elaborate one on Sundays. My friends and I had gone to FUJC on a Friday afternoon. The variety of food at FUJC is pretty much standard barring the absence of some favourites. The pickle platter placed on the table contained: typical spicy Mango pickle, sauteed chopped Green Chillies, spicy Green Chutney, Red Hot Chilli Paste and quartered Fresh Lime pieces. However, the pickle platter was marked by the conspicous absence of the staple sweet Mango Chunda or Chundo.
The staff begins to fill the thali with salad diced Cucumber with Tomatoes, and cubed Onions served separately. Next come the veggies, crunchy Cabbage and Green Peas subzi, Rajma in typical Onion-Tomato gravy, Doodhi in a masala gravy and Potatoes in a watery-masala gravy. (I missed their delicous Karela subzi that I have had in the past.) Two types of Dal Meethi Dal and Teekhi Dal, both were good. Unfortunately, they didnt serve Sweet Dahi Kadhi, one of my favourites. Then came hot Rotis smeared with some Desi Ghee. Unlike some thali joints, they dont serve Theplas, Biscuit Rotla or Nachni Rotla with Gud (jaggery) and White Butter.
The farsan/snack component, which should have been served at the begining of the meal was served much later. The lovely, spicy piping hot mini Batata Vada was served with sweet Imli (tamarind) chutney. The Chaas was of the plain salted variety, devoid of Cumin-Black Pepper Masala, chopped Coriander and Boondi. Then arrived at our table Plain Rice, no Khichdi or Pulav options here. And Roasted Papad. (I always prefer Fried Papad especially when Im having a thali).
As for dessert, they had two options Aamras and Gulab Jamuns. I chose the latter and boy! glad I did. Two medium-sized Gulab Jamuns stuffed with chopped Almonds and Saffron strands, yum-oh! (FUJCs Rasgollas are pretty good as well.) However, I sorely missed their Puranpoli, a unique variety in the form of a thick gooey patty/cutlet drizzled with Desi Ghee.
Though FUJC has some staple dishes typically home to a Gujarati thali missing, its alright. I mean, where else would you get an unlimited Gujarati thali for Rs 180? (Rs 150 for food + Rs 30 for Dessert). Their food is reasonably good and the price that it comes for, one shouldnt be complaining.
Great Value for Money
This is probably the best value for money thali place in town.
It is indeed a bit hard to find - while on Kalbadevi Road walking from the Princess Street end, look for a small lane on the right side - Babu Genu Road. Friends Union Joshi Club is on the first floor of the next building on Kalbadevi Road and there's a big sign outside saying Joshi Bhojanalay.
Now coming to the food - great is the only way to describe it. The thali is unlimited and includes farsan, 4 vegetables, 3 types of roti, dal, rice, and the usual papad, salad, pickles and a glass of chaas. All for a price of Rs. 90!
Now the ambiance isn't great. It's just a large room with no airconditioning and plain rows of seats. The service is very efficient and the waiters are at your table when you need anything.
The only thing not included are sweets/desserts - which are extra.
Overall, if you're looking for great food that tastes as good as your mother makes at a really reasonable price, Friends Union Joshi Club is where you should be eating.
The management could consider sprucing the place up a bit more though, which would get them a lot more customers.