It's the ultimate Manhattan experience, they say. If you are in New York City and care to look beyond the chic fine diners serving molecular modernism on expensive china, there is a smorgasbord of gourmet world cuisine available at the city's numerous food trucks. And what's more, food is served in the most unpretentious manner possible.
It's good news then, that a bunch of young city-based food enthusiasts have decided to dish up the same social experience - part of a popular food trend in the US, Canada and Australia - right here in Delhi. A new phenomenon in our country, which has long been known for its excellent street food served off thelas, the food truck trend - the trucks offer a qualitatively different experience - seems to be gaining momentum.
In the past few months, there has been a spurt in the number of trucks operating in Delhi and NCR serving everything from tacos to tortillas.Gaurav Gianchandani, founder, What the Truck?, a food truck that debuted in Noida last November, says, "There's a difference between Chinese food vans and a specialty food truck serving hygienic, gourmet hip fast food."
Social observers agree that at a time when trends are decided on social media, the idea of a food truck is an attractive one.Vikrant Misra, founder, Eggjactly, a truck that serves Belgian pancakes and cinnamon crepes, says, "Most trucks can be located via their Twitter feeds or Facebook pages. We are also launching an app soon."
However, this hipster food revolution isn't entirely without its hurdles. Currently, the authorities have no clear-cut rules or laws pertaining to permitting the business of food trucks. Pallavi Kuchroo, co-founder Frugurpop, a dessert truck, says, "We have all the mandatory FSSAI licenses but in the absence of clear laws, we have to park the truck at corporate houses or in colonies after permission from the RWAs.
Karan Malik of Super Sucker, says, "It is tiring to explain the concept to local cops and authorities as they have not dealt with anything like this before. We have the food, fire, drivers' license and the sellers permit but the problems continue." The owners explain that laws in Delhi are even more stringent than they are in NCR. To ensure that business doesn't hit a pothole, the 'food truckwallahs' now intend to set up an association to raise the issue with the authorities.
* ARTISANAL LOLLIES
Frugurpop stocks Mexican popsicles called Paletaz, that are made from natural fruits and are free of preservatives. A high-brow version of ice-lollies, these popsicles come in flavours like tiramisu, peach, plum and cranberry.
Price: Rs 100 onwards Where: At sector 57, Gurgaon. Follow @frugurpop on Twitter, Instagram and FB for the truck's location
* MEXICAN MUNCHIES
The Lalit Food Truck serves Mexican fare such as churros and tortillas. Kapil Vig, asst manager, F&B says, "In these times of mindful eating it was essential to come up with something that is approachable and serves quality fare." Price: Rs 70 onwards, Where: At World Trade Centre, Barakhamba Lane and across the city. The calendar can be seen at www.thelalitftc.com
* HIPSTER FOOD
Gaurav Gianchandani's What the Truck? serves hot dogs, burgers and wraps. What the Truck? ensures that the patties for burgers are 100% meat. Price: Rs 150 approx, Where: At Buddh International Circuit, Noida, over the weekend at Sohna Road and South City II during weekdays. Track it on facebook.com/whathetruck?
* POP-UPS GO POPULAR
Another trend that's catching up in the city is that of pop-up resturants.These are temporary off-shoots of restaurants that open for a few days. Inderpal Singh Kochhar, owner Sewara Hospitality, says, "A pop-up brings the décor, design and menu so patrons get the feel of dining at the restaurant itself, and are hugely successful."
* BURRITOS, BURGERS AND SMOOTHIES
Touted as the city's first food truck, Super Suckers' owner Karan Malik, who likes to drive the truck himself, has an extensive menu of kheema and kulcha delicacies. Malik rues the fact that the lack of laws by local bodies for a set-up like this restricts his free movement around the city and hence, currently operates only during events and functions. Price: Rs 100 onwards, Where: Super Sucker can be tracked on www.facebook.com/saladtruck
* BELGIAN BREAKFASTS
Inspired by the trucks of New York and the TV series Eat Street, Vikrant Misra founded Eggjactly, that has separate menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The mini kitchen has the latest equipment complete with a sewage tank. Eggjactly's menu includes eggy delights like Belgian waffles and anda bhurjee.
Price: Rs 80 onwards, Where: Eggjactly, travels across Gurgaon. Follow their FB page EGGjactlythefoodtruck