The place – Shriram Center’s Canteen
Location – C.P. in front of Mandi House
Nearest metro station – Mandi House
First of all, the ambiance and location. Located in front of Mandi House, the entire place is lush green and frequented by the artsy Doordarshan and NSD crowd. More often than not, you will spot a gang of oldies singing and whistling old Kishore Kumar-Dev Anand songs or NSD kids rehearsing their lines. The best part of this place is its outdoor seating. In winters, you have got to sit outside and enjoy a hot cup of tea.
Food – The food (aleast the prices) takes you back to school when you had little money and one always used to explore new pocket friendly places. One thing you will see almost everyone eating is the momos. They may not be the most brilliant ones I have eaten but they surely are great in taste (I can eat momos in whatever form it is presented to me). The chutney too is good and decently spicy.
The cheese and onion toast or even the aloo toast available here is quite good. It tastes home-made with generous (but appropriate) amount of butter and perfectly complements the chai. The most unique part has to be the chowmein. It is made the same way I used to eat when I was a kid. When the bhaiyya would toss and turn the kadhai so much that only half was left in the kadhai by the time he was finished and the other half was thrown all around. It even tastes the same with onions, soya sauce, vinegar and is brown – black in color.
But the killer has to be the chai. You can get an adrak ki chai or an elaichi chai and both are splendid. It is the perfect accompaniment to everything you will order at this place. Even a non-tea drinker like me had two cups of tea here.
And all of this is extremely cheap. All the things that I mentioned came under Rs. 200. The service extremely efficient too. The bhaiyyas or the helpers are friendly, honest and non-letchery. But beware, the entry is stopped after 7.30 and the place closes around 8 pm. The best time to go to this place is in winters when the weather is perfect but summers also will do. Go to this place with a low maintenance company, who doesn’t look a million times at the plates or cleans the edges of tea cups with tissues or takes out hand sanitizer after every second, and you will have a blast.
This is a place where people come to discuss politics, lovers come to hide from their friends and parents, drama students practice their lines, and where business ideas are made and trashed. If you are lucky, you may even spot the future superstar (I heard shahrukh khan used to come here all the time).
Go to this place for a trip down the nostalgia lane and enjoy some great comfort food on the way and you won’t regret it.