Delhi has always been famous for its thriving food culture and its enthusiastic tradition of food around festivities. It has its own variety of street food attuned to the city’s palate, with its own distinct flavours, with items such as momos and dahi bhalle, as well as lavish restaurants offering cuisines from around the world,that clearly attracts the city’s folks to eat out as often. People love to eat and spend time with friends and family at and are always seeking out new places for which they want a comfortable and relaxed place.
In recent years, North Delhi, especially the student hub GTB Nagar has seen a mushrooming of eateries. These include South Indian and North Indian platters, Chinese and European cafes, all of which are sought out by the crowd of people visiting GTB Nagar. Lip-smacking food items and beautiful ‘hangouts’ catering to students have actually captured the attention of the visitors more than the place’s original residents. Stretching from one corner to another, it has developed into a food street, offering budget-friendly options.
To satiate my curiosity, I decided to explore these new places and find out what has led to GTB Nagar become such a popular place for restaurants. I started from Magikk Kitchen Restaurant, a multi-cuisine restaurant that set up shop around a year-and-a-half ago. Rakesh Chopra, the owner of the restaurant seemed quite dissatisfied with the fact that his restaurant has not been making business. I asked what made him set up a restaurant in Hudson lane, GTB Nagar to which he replied, “It is near my house, and people would turn up often over there so I thought this was a good idea. This place is very popular among Delhi University students.”
My next visit was Indus Flavour, famous for its vegetarian platters curiously inspired from Indus Valley Civilization’s food culture. A closer look at the menu however, and we discovered that the food was closer to North-west frontier’s Punjabi cuisine as well as Rajasthani cuisine of contemporary times. A conversation with the manager of the restaurant, Krishna led to a discussion on their unusual starter ‘Dahi k Sholley’, a must for their visitor. They have also experimented with dish names such as ‘Mohenjo daro tadka’ to bring in a touch of the Indus Valley in the menu.
In the same row of restaurants on the street, one can find that each place is popular for its specialty items: QD’s attracts customers for their Tandoori Momos, Vintage Avenue for their Dahi Kabab and Koris for their light burgers. Others such as Singh Ching, The Hudson Cafe, Spezia Bistro, SuperHero Cafe, Mood Swingers Cafe, YOLO 21 offering mostly Cafe, Korean, American, Mexican, Italian, Continental, Lebanese and Chinese platters. Not only this, when you cross the road, one also has Shagun which has considerable amount of people, Big Yellow Door offering exotic pastas and also the most popular one, newly opened Taxi Telegram Cafe The Postal, Sparrow which are waiting for visitors every day initially. What is interesting to watch is each one claims to have a better taste than their contemporaries. Each claims to have better authenticity in terms of taste which they promise to offer to their clients.
In recent years, North Delhi, especially the student hub GTB Nagar has seen a mushrooming of eateries. These include South Indian and North Indian platters, Chinese and European cafes, all of which are sought out by the crowd of people visiting GTB Nagar.
Another thing, which is notable is that all of these has unusual restaurant names. For instance, when asked about YOLO 21, Sukreet Singh the owner said that it stands for ‘You Only Live Once’. He also elaborated that it was the sixth most popular word in Oxford dictionary in 2013, so they chose to have this name and inaugurated in the same year. What was commonly answered that none of them feels any sort of competition between each other hiding the obvious truth under their smiles. In terms of Indian cuisine, one has less options here. It is quite surprising that very few restaurants offering Indian delicacies which is considered less in demand by these owners.
In all these exploration, I asked some of the students what they actually think of all multiple restaurants. Prerna, a student of Delhi University said that for her it is nothing new in the quality or the presentation. It has same taste to offer, somehow same menu with different names. Another student Prakriti seemed to be happy about the place. What appreciating is the interiors designed attractively. According to her, people stay for a longer time here as it is comfortable, beautiful and best place for hangouts. Also, it is near to her college and takes a few minutes to reach out here. To other group of friends waiting in the queue Radhika, Aishwarya and Anjali, it is very relaxing to find all these multiple cuisines in one row. It is appealing and exciting as each month they try out the next visit. It is less time consuming and a safer place if someone wants to stay for a longer time.
After visiting almost all the places, it could be said that opening a new restaurant here would not make a good business as it is so occupied by the previous ones that there is nothing to offer a new delight. People although have a large number of options, it still requires to create a good marketing style challenging the other. Almost all the places were seen vacant not only dissatisfying the owners but also seemed disinterested after a while. Different strategies like discounts, free starters are used by the owners to chase the visitors. It is very obvious to see that people would tend to go to places when it is popular and it is clearly visible from the number of visitors that I could see in Big Yellow Door and QD’s. These two seemed to be a clear winner in terms of crowd they had. And in between we have newly opened a bakery shop called ‘For God’s Cake’ which offers tasty cakes and buns.
In the midst of all these exotic eateries, we also have the old ones satisfying cravings since a long time. Subways, Dominos, Pizza Hut and Apni Rasoi are still attracting the visitors with their charm and identity which they built for years. So, visiting GTB Nagar would give numerous options and would surely confuse you if you are visiting it for a first time. But it is charming to watch that they have beautiful interiors inspiring from history to vintage style. And, if you are tired and full with these delights, go to the famous ‘Traffic Jam’ Juice wala which has been witnessing all these affairs completing almost a decade here.