Akshaya, Parel: Mumbai’s Most Unusual Dive Bar

Like people, bars too have their own distinct personalities, some are nice, other are insufferable, and if you look hard enough, you may even come across one that’s pleasantly bizarre. In our epic quest across the city to find the best and cheapest ways to die of alcohol poisoning, we’ve come across our fair share of dive bars that we’d go so far as to say were oddities.

So far we’ve witnessed a dive bar with Roman Murals and another with Renaissance paintings, and while they were all unique, they never seriously deviated from the standard template, a dark, cold, dingy space. A place where men congregated to discuss new ways to perpetuate the oppression of women, all while expertly running a planet. But what if we told you we found a place that deviates from this beloved format by adding a little oddness into the mix? It’s called Akshaya Restaurant in Parel, and so begins our story.

From the outside Akshaya looks nothing like a dive bar, you could be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of old ski lodge that somehow ended up in Mumbai, which liberals would attribute to climate change. But upon closer examination, our crack team of reporters discovered that it was indeed a bar. Unlike most traditional dive bars we’ve visited, Akshaya isn’t open to the road, instead, they make use of a door, which is frankly not a bad idea. There’s no non-A/C section, and the interior is very much like an old Irish Pub, complete with wooden beams and furniture. They also have quite a good stock of premium liquor that they proudly display at the bar, and a nice German Shepherd who protects the bar from any Curly Tales writers who may wander in.

Since Akshaya serves alcohol by the quarter (even if it is in a decanter instead of the original bottle), a method ordained by God, it’s technically a dive bar. We were treated to free chakna with the drinks we ordered, an old practice that was common to most dive bars before people realised giving away stuff for free isn’t a viable economic model. The menu also had a selection of cocktails and tequila, very atypical of a shady bar. Approximately four of the clientele present were of the female variety, while some gentlemen took the liberty of bringing their whole families, including adorable three-year olds to the bar, which gave us serious #wifegoals. After ordering the Bombil Fry, the Spicy Lamb, and some Squid, all of which were on the menu but none of which they had, and then some Kingfisher, which they also didn’t have, we decided to improvise.

Dragon Beer Chicken

Rs.250

Since we recently devoted our lives to the ancient Korean art of channelling and mastering Dragon Energy, we ordered a Dragon Chicken. It was beautifully cooked, and the batter had hints of beer so slight we wouldn’t have been able to guess it had the waiter not described the preparation to us beforehand. It really was good eating for chicken, and coming from us that means something, because we usually hate chicken.

Surmai Tikka

Rs.350

The Surmai Tikka at Akshaya was very straightforward, and apart from a few minor injuries caused by a stray bone, they were nothing to write home about. It was by no means the best surmai we’ve ever had and definitely not the cheapest. While it did go well with our beer, it wasn’t particularly memorable in retrospect.

Chicken Red Pepper

Rs.250

If we could recommend Akshaya for anything it would have to be the quality of its Chinese food, which is every bit as good as a moderately priced Chinese restaurant. Arguably better. The Chicken Red Pepper was a bit tangy, with a meat a little tougher than in the Dragon Chicken. What made it better than it objectively was the fact that we had to wait half an hour between placing the order and actually having it arrive at our table; but we’re not being passive aggressive about it.

The Decree: Although it’s somewhat female friendly, there still are things we liked about Akshaya. It’s reasonably priced, there’s free chakna & the food is excellent, but what we really liked was how different it is from every other bar we’ve been to. It has a certain character to it that goes well beyond being just a good place to drown your sorrows and bitch about your job. Should you go there? Absolutely, and make sure to call for the squid. They won’t have it, but it’s fun to watch their faces fall when you do.

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