One Of A Kind Open Food Court
By Ravi V.Chhabra
The Yashwant Place market proudly seated in the posh Chanakyapuri area is where the Russian tourists (Russian embassy being closeby) and other expats in the Capital have always thronged for shopping and for gorging on reasonably-priced Chinese/Mughlai food in the adjacent Food Court. The Yashwant Place Food Court opened in 1986 and is located at a stone’s throw from the once highly popular Chanakya movie hall. This Open Food Court took a drubbing in 2007, when the movie hall shut down, but subsequently picked up business again. It is open from 11am till 12 midnight and includes ample open seating space for dining that is packed with foodies in the winters, some of who smuggle their booze for a cocktail.
As you enter the market from Africa Avenue, you will find a row of Chinese eateries on your left. While Momo Point – serves delicious steamed and fried dumplings (shop no. 2) is known for its vegetarian momos (Rs. 70) and chicken steamed momos (Rs. 90), Chimney restaurant (shop no. 10 and shop no. 16) is famous for its Thukpas, both veg (Rs. 70) and chicken (Rs.100). The best-selling dish at the Chimney restaurant is the Chicken Steak Sizzler (Rs. 290),while the Golden Fried Prawn (Rs. 290) is a special preparation that is done to perfection and is value for money with six good-sized prawns in a plate. Another well-known eatery here is the Laguna.
In all, there are 13 restaurants in the same row with most serving Chinese and Tibetian food that started accepting credit cards since last few years. A few restaurants serve Mughlai food such as Al-Kuresh, Milan Foods, New Zaika and Chanakya Bar-be-que. The all-time favourite dish in this food market are the chicken and pork dumplings or momos and one can relish them with the momo soup that comes gratis as accompaniment. The Chinese sizzlers are another hot moving dish that are served by most outlets. The other restaurants are: Chinese Bite, Chinese Garden and China Town Sizzlers.
There are ample dishes both for the vegetarians and the carnivores like myself. In the vegetarian menu, the Chinese restaurants serve Mushroom Grilled Chilly, Crispy Chilly Baby Corn, Crispy Spicy Potato, Crispy Fried Vegetables and a plethora of soups such as Spicy Lemon soup, Hot N’ Sour soup, Sweet Corn soup, Tomato soup, Mushroom soup and Manchow soup. In the non-vegetarian soup section there are: Sub Kam Wanton soup, Talumein soup, Chicken Coriander Crispy Rice soup and Beijing soup. My favourite being the Talumein and Hot N’ Sour soups. The chefs and waiters in all Chinese restaurants are young Nepalese boys who are always ready to take and serve the order with gusto.
The starters section has enough variety of non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes to choose from with a price range of Rs. 140-170 for a dish. However, the costliest items in the menu are the prawns and fish that cost over Rs. 275 a plate. But there is enough to choose from for tight-budgeted college students and those who like to eat out frequently! Some of the ‘must recommended’ dishes in the main course are the Pork Steam Momos, Prawn Steam Momos, Chicken Thukpa, Chilly Garlic Non-Veg Chopsuey, Prawn Garlic Sauce, Fish Manchurian, Spicy Fish Oyster Sauce, Double Fried Pork Chilly, Sliced Lamb Black Pepper and Diced Chicken Szechwan style.
Speaking to fnbworld, Sanjay Malhotra, owner of two Chimney restaurants; one having 40pax capacity and the second with 24 pax said: “I established momos here in the Eighties. Earlier, they were available only at Majnu Ka Tila or the Tibetan Market in north Delhi. At that time, we would offer two free momos with soup to cultivate our guests’ tastebuds! Our momos have since been a big hit with all those who come here including those from the Communist countries and also the Afghanis, who love to eat momos with a lavish dressing of yoghurt, red beans and soya sauce. Indeed, after 1992 with the demise of the Communist Bloc, the Russians diverted to China and Taiwan. Now we supply food to Embassies, Army Mess and certain guests at the 5-star hotels in the vicinity who place orders with us. The orders invariably comprise our high end dishes such as the Steamed Fish and Golden Fried Tiger Prawns. We source all our seafood from Mumbai for which we maintain a cold storage.”
Mohammad Shahzada, co-owner of Al-Kuresh restaurant whose specialty is Mughlai cuisine says: “We started the restro in 1997 and we serve both Chinese and Mughlai food, though our mainstay is Mughlai food and the hottest selling items are the Mutton Kakori (Rs. 120) and Galouti Kebabs (Rs. 180), while for the gravy lovers we have the Mutton Shahi Korma (Rs. 160) and the Bukhara Kofta (Rs. 160). The Butter Chicken is for Rs. 400.” At Al-Kuresh I would recommend the Tandori Raan (Rs. 750), Mutton Sheekh Kebab (Rs. 110) in the dry section, while in gravy section the clear winner is the Mutton Bukhara Kofta (Rs. 160) best relished with the Varqi parantha or the Pudina parantha.
The food plaza has ample paid car parking and a fairly clean toilet complex; the visitors here need not worry about the obvious inconveniences that come with eating out at most reasonably priced places in Delhi.