Customer care 7.6
October saw the Oakham Curry Club head into the depths of Pudong to the shopping centre FOR at Fangdian Lu metro station to dine at The Indian Aroma, recently renamed from The Mint Leaf. Keen OCC followers will recall that this was actually the fourth time the club has dined in a mall, with all three of those previous venues – Nanak, Ganesha and Hit Wicket – failing to reach the coveted overall score of 7.0 and therefore an OCC Approved sticker. Thus, the air was thick with excitement and the smell of curry as the OCC entered The Indian Aroma.
The customer care on display at The Indian Aroma was evident before the meal even began. With a table of 14 booked in, we received a call the morning of our dinner to confirm our reservation – always a nice touch. Once at the venue, we were warmly welcomed by the manager who then proceeded to ensure our whole meal went smoothly, from making menu recommendations, to adjusting lighting for our pictures, to posting a fapiao to a member following the meet. The service, too, was of a similar level, which is reflected in the scores – food came swiftly and drinks were rarely empty before a refill had arrived.
While the customer care and service were excellent, the food itself was a bit of a mixed bag. The starters of the tandoori meat plate and samosa chaat were well-received and had us eagerly awaiting the mains of mutton saag, chicken tikka, chicken madras and subz miloni. Unfortunately, these dishes erred on the side of saltiness, while much of the meat came on the bone. The OCC appreciates that this is more in keeping with local Chinese preferences when it comes to meat, but at the same time we firmly believe that curries are messy enough to eat without having to pick out bones as well. The score of 6.5 for quality aptly summarises the issues faced with the food.
If the food was slightly disappointing, the final bill was anything but – a final price of just over 250 RMB per person definitely on the smaller side of OCC bills. As with any OCC meet, we had ordered a variety of dishes and drinks, and so this price was felt to be more than reasonable.
With scores for other elements all hovering around the 7.0 mark, the question as to whether The Indian Aroma would meet the high standards for an OCC Approved sticker would all come down to its atmosphere. With the other three mall-based venues averaging 5 for atmosphere, the cards were stacked against the venue. There is no doubt that The Indian Aroma has done its best to overcome the fact that it’s in a mall – it’s tastefully decorated and the background music helps create a pleasant ambiance – but at the end of the day, this fact is unavoidable.
Ultimately, The Indian Aroma’s score for atmosphere held it back from breaching the 7.0 mark, with a total score of 6.9 meaning it narrowly misses out on achieving an OCC Approved sticker.
Overall, then, with atmosphere dragging it down, The Indian Aroma came in at a total score of 6.9, narrowly missing out on achieving an OCC Approved sticker. Much like the greater Pudong area itself, the venue showed strong flashes of promise, but ultimately left us hoping for a little bit more. For those around the Fangdian Lu metro area, The Indian Aroma represents a decent option, but ultimately is not one we would recommend making a specific trip to visit.