MORRIS COUNTY — If you are a world traveler and fortunate enough to take that 8,000 miles plus trip to India, you would probably quickly notice that all along their highways you will find numerous small, rustic, roadside eateries serving whatever local cuisine is common for that region. These comforting and charming eateries, known for their tasty, healthy, satisfying food are called “Dhaba”.
Many people must travel far and wide to find a top-notch, truly authentic, traditional Indian restaurant with all those savory and unique tastes and spices that this fare is known for. If you are not up for that 8000-mile trip at this moment but happen to be a long-time fan of Indian cuisine, or just want to experience a different, and fun, culinary adventure, you will find Jashan by Dhaba more than ready to fill that need. Located right on Route 46 West in an attractive looking, stand-alone building, with eye-catching attractive, orange signage, Jashan by Dhaba, which describes itself as an Indian and Indo-Chinese Restaurant and Party Hall, literally translates to “celebration”, or as they like to say, a “celebration of Indian food”, and it just might be the place you are looking for.
Opened in September of 2019 (formerly the site of Mirchi) by the owner, Ankush Punhani, Jashan by Dhaba prides itself on offering a wide variety of dishes from the various regional areas of India, as well as some from Indochina, with an emphasis on Northern Indian fare, while still offering choices from the South. Many would describe Indian cuisine as being spicy, rich, flavorful, and diverse; of course, none of that should scare you off as your dish would be highly dependent on what you order and the degree of spiciness (heat) you prefer. And, when I mention that, I mean it as a good thing, as I personally enjoy my food with a flavorful kick.
With that in mind, do yourself a favor and do not allow a lack of familiarity with the extensive menu, different, aromatic spices, or unaccustomed language to intimidate you. You will be depriving yourself of one of the great cuisines of the world if you do. The attentive wait staff at Jashan, who were all effusive and accommodating during my visit will gladly help guide you along the way; and as I have found, it is not that complicated or confusing once you get a grasp on some basic Indian phrases and cooking techniques. Or you can always follow the old rule of thumb; If you ever find yourself where you do not know the food, take cues from the tables of people who look like they might have grown up with the cuisine. Never a bad tip!
A spacious, classy, and somewhat upscale ambiance awaits you within. A pleasant, nicely appointed, modern, semi-formal setting, that still manages to make you feel cozy and comfortable with ethnic décor throughout, and soft Indian music playing in the background. Sparkling clean and clearly in full conformance with all current health (COVID) protocols, one should feel safe dining at this establishment. A restaurant’s appearance sets a tone, raises our expectations and suggests that the owner cares as much about our comfort as he does about the food they serve. Jashan by Dhaba has made that effort and succeeded.
A foodie friend of mine, who loves Indian food, has been praising this venue for a while, so I invited him along for this review and as a helpful guide. Our host and waiter, Asif Naim, could not have been more accommodating to our needs. As suggested by Asif, we sat at one of the restaurants several comfortable, plush leather, semi-circular booths. Gave us plenty of room to spread out! The very amiable and personable General Manager, Purushottam-Pudasaini, joined us at our table to welcome us, and we had an opportunity for a very enjoyable chat. Puru, as he told us to call him, prior to managing Jashan grew up in Nepal and started his career in the food industry as a dishwasher before eventually finding his way to Dubai, where he managed the Ritz-Carlton for 13 years, then onto San Diego, where he managed 5 different Indian restaurants at the same time. In 2019 he found his way to Jashan by Dhaba. Puru told me that “he loves what he does and finds it very personally rewarding”. He went on, “making people happy, organizing special events in people’s lives, setting up corporate and private events, and ensuring great service and customer comfort is very important.” When asked what he likes about New Jersey, he stated, “I like the four different seasons the most, as they remind me of growing up in Nepal”.
As soon as we were seated our wine was uncorked, poured, and placed in an ice bucket as we began to peruse our phone-generated menu. By the way, I should mention that Jashan is a BYOB, so bring along your favorite. The large menu offers a nice selection of vegetarian, meat, fish, and egg dishes. There is an emphasis on lamb, goat, and chicken for your meat selection. For you steak lovers, you will not find that on the menu. Asif, our waiter, was there to helpfully answer our questions, offer advice, and provide guidance along the way.
We started with the Galouti Kebab; minced lamb patties that came with two of the chef’s special sauces. Very moist and flavorful, and the sauces were a great accompaniment. Three nice-sized patties, so there was plenty to share. Asif then returned with a complimentary dish that he thought we would like; Soya Chop Achari. This vegetarian dish, made primarily from soybeans, was delicious. The taste was nicely textured, somewhat chewy, and creamy inside with a slightly crispy shell. The seasoning was perfect and spicy. There was certainly a lot going with multiple layers of flavors and spices hitting your taste buds. The spiciness was also perfect, not too hot, but just enough to hit you with a few waves of pleasant heat.
For entrees, I chose to go with Goat Vindaloo, while my friend chose the Saffron Chicken. Goat Vindaloo was not on the menu (lamb is), but they gladly made it for me. I was given a choice of my heat level, from 1 to 10. I chose a 7, but I could have gone higher. Next time! The goat meat was fall off the bone savory and delicious, tender, and juicy. The taste of goat is slightly less sweet than beef and not the least bit gamey (as some people believe), and blended perfectly with the saucy, spicy, curry dish, Vindaloo. The Saffron Chicken, which I did get to taste, was extremely flavorful. A spicy dish, yet sort of sweet, aromatic, and earthy, with the scent and flavor of saffron clearly prominent. This was the first time I tried this gorgeous golden-colored dish, and its complexity demonstrates why Indian cuisine is considered one of the most flavorful cuisines in the world.
For sides, we went with some tasty Garlic Naan, and Biryani Rice. The Biryani Rice was courteously prepared for us as a special sample of the rice typically served with a traditional Indian Biryani dish. This delectable rice dish derives its, multitude of flavors, and special tastes through the blending of many diverse spices. I do not know how they do it, but it was excellent!
Staying in gavone mode, despite being totally satiated, I still had to try their dessert; Gulab Jamon. I mean, you have to do what you have to do, right! Round, milk-based, fried delicacies, sweet-tasting treats that melt in your mouth, soaked in a rose-watered scented syrup, it was a perfect way to cap off this feast. Jashan by Dhaba is certainly a “celebration of Indian food.”
Great food, outstanding, friendly, and attentive service, beautiful ambiance and vibe, very reasonable prices, large private parking lot, BYOB. I would recommend you stop in and enjoy an evening at Jashan.
अच्छे भोजन अच्छे दोस्त
Jashan By Dhaba is located at 252 Route 46 West, Parsippany. (973) 521-9100. Click here to view the website.