I first heard about Soam when I saw Kunal Vijaykar singing their praises on his show The Foodie on Times Now, some years ago and wanted to go there ever since. Though Im a hardcore non-vegetarian, I appreciate vegetarian food cooked in traditional Indian style (I gleefully accept any opportunity to eat a Gujarati, Rajasthani, Punjabi, Maharastrian or a South Indian thali). But unfortunately, for most of my friends, eating pure veg food outside home is a strict no-no. Else I wouldnt have had to wait so long to visit Soam. But I finally hatched an impromptu plan to go there earlier this week, and dragged my best friend i.e. my bakra along.
The fact that Soam offered Valet Parking not only impressed me but also increased my expectations from them. And so, as I entered the place, I was a bit disappointed to see so many tables crammed so closely together (I didnt have to strain my ears to eavesdrop on conversations on either side of my table. Sadly, I dont understand Gujarati).
The ambiance is good with A/c, and Indian music playing at a low volume. The restaurant has a nice traditional touch not only with the décor but also its cutlery. There was a table mat for each person made of out of dried leaves and food was served on golden-ish metal plates (My friend was so taken by the rustic touch, she thought were supposed to eat on those dried leaf table mats). Most of the items on the menu had Gujarati names but thankfully, they had English descriptions for strangers to their cuisine.
We ordered Sweet Lassi (Rs 100), Lemon and Basil Punch (Rs 90), Farsaan Platter (Rs 150), Paanki (Rs 100), Vatana Pattice (Rs 100) and Kesar Jalebi (Rs 120). Within 10 minutes all our food arrived in quick succession.
I began by spooning some of the green chutney, green chillies and chunda made with plum, dried dates and raisins kept in little colorful bowls on each table, on to my plate and began attacking the food one by one. The Paanki (3 pieces) was yellow-coloured rice flour batter, spread thinly onto banana leaves which were roasted on a hot pan. I peeled off the delicate paanki off the banana leaves (I was distinctly reminded of the act of peeling off a face mask) and ate them, relishing the taste lightly spiced with a mild tang. The Vatana Pattice (2 pieces) was made out of a mixture of green peas in a spicy green masala stuffed inside a covering of mashed potatoes, rolled into fine vermicelli and deep-fried till crisp. The only downside of this dish was the powdery corn flower-ish taste of the mashed potato covering.
The Sweet Lassi had just the right balance of sweet and sour-ness and had the thickest consistency I have ever come across (a notch thicker than Kailash Parbat). The Lemon and Basil Punch was quite refreshing however, it left a slight bitter aftertaste post every sip. The Farsaan Platter (sounds very grand) turned out to be a small cane basket containing 2 small pieces of Palak Cheese samosa, yellow Dhokla, fluffy fried Kotimbhir wadi-esque snack minus the Kotimbhir and a mashed green peas samosa in the shape of a cresent. The Palak Cheese samosa was the star of the platter while the rest were decent except the mashed green peas samosa that wasnt upto the mark.
The Kesar Jalebi was the best dish of the evening. The mini-sized yellow saffron-flavoured jalebis were crispy fried in ghee and lightly sprinkled with tiny almond flakes (These babies looked so cute patiently sitting in their serving bowl, waiting for me to devour them). I want all jalebis to be standardised to that of Soams because most places serve soft, thick, super sweet jalebis that irritate the throat after eating.
Overall the food was tasty but the prices dont justify the small portions. (As per our bill, it was Rs 330 per head at Soam. With a similar amount, I can eat an unlimited Gujarati thali at places like Rajdhani, Samrat, Golden Star Thali or Friends Union Joshi Club). The service was friendly and quick. But if you dont mind spending this much or more, its totally worth your money.
Note: Young folks might receive a mild culture shock at Soam as youll mostly find a middle-aged and elderly crowd. And everybody customers and staff included seem totally unfazed by little screaming kids running around the place.