Staying true to our conviction to get you, our readers, the most accurate insight into Manipal’s finest dining options, we at MTTN have attempted to review The J. Having been an integral part of most students’ college lives in Mumbai and Pune, the J finally opened its doors to the ultimate collegiate town, Manipal, in 2018.
As we’ve all experienced, fried potatoes are a difficult entity to resist. Add to that a well-experimented array of condiments and toppings, and you’ll find yourself in gastronomic heaven. We tried the J of the Jungle, the Barbecue Fries, the Makhani Fries, and the Chicken Pizza Fries. From the milkshakes, we sampled the Red Velvet Cakeshake and the Nutella Oreo Shake.
To start off with something for our vegetarian audience, we tested the Makhani Fries with paneer. Imagine all the flavours of an Indian curry combined with the West-borrowed concept of fries and that makes the Makhani fries. Tasting quintessentially North Indian, these fries had us full after just a few bites. With miniature paneer cutlets at the top and an unidentifiable number of spices, this cardboard container of fries has all the makings of a meal. The Makhani Fries are also available in a Butter Chicken alternative for non-vegetarians.
Next up we tried the Barbecue Fries. Almost overflowing with a multitude of sauces, these fries are the safest bet for someone looking for comfort food. That being said, they do run the risk of being rather soggy by the end. Filling, flavourful, and easy on the pocket considering they can send you into a ‘carb-coma’, this is definitely our recommendation.
The J in the Jungle was the ultimate heap of potato, a bunch of undistinguishable sauces, and shredded chicken. The non-vegetarian component in the Barbecue Fries being solid chicken sausage, these fries differed using shredded chicken mixed in with the explosion of taste in your mouth, losing the subtle meaty zing every non-vegetarian looks forward to. Being the house favourite, these fries seemed to contain every bit of sweet, tang and salt you’d look for in saucy fries.
The Chicken Pizza Fries is an unofficial legend in the J’s history in Mumbai. It’s what made them different from every other college hangout in the big city. And now, being in Manipal, they drive home that same genius combination of two of the world’s favourite fast foods. Well-tossed in a thick mixture of tomato sauce and chunky cheese, they sit a little too comfortably on the tongue. Filling your stomach two-thirds into the signature J’s cone, the shredded chicken and sauces dwindle down to potato as you reach the bottom. If you’re looking for a congenial, convenient meal, these fries will satiate your cravings.
What can be better than a Red Velvet cupcake? A Red Velvet cupcake that you can drink! The Red Velvet Cake shake liquefied every grain of the cupcake that leaves you craving more. The Nutella Oreo Shake was another innovative twist to the regular chocolate milkshake, giving it an underlying, almost indistinct taste of hazelnut, but overall being an all-encompassing concoction of chocolaty goodness. However, both these shakes are the same price as a cone of fries, which indicates an occasion to splurge. The fries themselves, being more than a meal as one, are so cost-efficient they may leave you wondering why your appetite isn’t indirectly proportional to the price.
The J also recently opened up a small air-conditioned loft space right above their shop with a confined seating area to enjoy your fries, with convenient holes in the table to place your cones and sip your shakes. You will not be kept waiting for your order very long, the serving time is a maximum of ten to twelve minutes, as we experienced.
All in all, this happy little hangout is that tiny bit of big city that all of us metropolitan kids can relate to in Manipal, overflowing with fried potato goodness and delectable sauces galore.
Reviewed by Mahia De’Sylva and Natasha Kumar for MTTN
Photographed by Akshat Chourasia