They say if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all; which is why we’re not going to say anything about Vile Parle. Amar Juice Centre on the other hand, is an institution that commands respect, because even though it’s basically an open kitchen overlooking a hospital, it somehow still manages to serve up some of the best pav bhaji this city has to offer. Amar Juice Centre is exceptionally unimpressive from the outside despite being a household name in most of suburban Mumbai, and while it’s not particularly difficult to find, we have to admit it’s quite easy to miss, considering it’s strategically tucked away behind a large tree.
All classless jabs aside, there’s nothing truly bad we can say about Amar (though not for lack of trying), sure it’s a bit small and lacks some amenities that we, as a middle class men, are used to, like chairs, but at the end of the day, the food speaks for itself. And even though it’s an open kitchen that serves you your food under a tree, it’s still surprisingly clean, they even shoo away poor people who try and stare at you while you’re eating. That’s what we in the business world call consumer based innovation. And although it doesn’t have a roof, but it does have a whole legion of waiters in attendance.
If there’s one thing we can say about Amar Juice Center, it’s that nobody goes there for the juice; that would be like saying people go to Manali for the scenery. The one reason and one reason only, that Amar’s even a blip on anyone’s radar is their phenomenal pav bhaji.
Amar’s pav bhaji isn’t as spicy as others, but that’s what lets you enjoy all the other little flavours that go into the bhaji instead of just being presented with a mouthful of red hot chillies. It’s served piping hot, every bit of it, even the pav. While that does sound great, it’s a bit of an inconvenience when you’re caught unaware, so try not to burn your fingers. As far as butter goes, again, Amar doesn’t overdo it, you can still taste the butter and everything, you just won’t have to leave in an ambulance. The fact is you don’t need to appeal to people’s base desires of butter or masala to make great pav bhaji, you just need to be Amar Juice Centre.
A pav bhaji at Amar Juice Centre will set you back by Rs.140, that’s quite a bit for a simple pav bhaji; but Amar’s pav bhaji is anything but simple.
Amar Juice Center is amazing but can it fight off the pride of South Bombay, Sardar Refreshments for the title of best pav bhaji in Mumbai? Find out in Part 2 of A Pav Bhaji Story.