Monday, August 4, 2008

Malls and Food don't mix well

A pav bhaji that has 2 burger breads for pav and a mixed veg sabji for bhaji is not pav bhaji (despite what the menu says). And charging 80 bucks for it is not going to make me believe it either. As I was having this dish (I still don’t know its real name) at a Gurgaon mall last week, I thought about the umpteen times I was disappointed at a food court.

Till about a couple of months back, I was in Mumbai on a project. There was this new mall bang opposite our office with a large space for food court with every regular brand tempting the office goers for lunch. Was there a multicuisine place anywhere? NO. They had the setup perfectly done. Each one of them was under the guise of a specialist. But then there was diversification of a different kind. The Dosa Plaza had Chinese dosas, Italian Dosas (complete with cheese) and Mexican Dosas (Mexican = refried beans apparently). If the dosas were bad, the sambar was extraordinarily unpalatable. They had these maddu looking chaps inside the kitchen – horrifying to think such sambar could have been made by maddus. To top if off, they had this “madras filter coffee” too. Sighhhh!

I reserve a special hatred for the parathas in the Mumbai food courts. The owners of these Only Parathas, Just Parathas and what nots seem to be spending money on good photographers rather than decent cooks. Sumptuous looking parathas are plastered all over the walls. The anticipation of the parathas after you order them the first time is tremendous, with your taste buds secreting all kinds of juices. I remember I went to the counter every 3 mins – Ho gaya kya, ho gaya kya?. For people who have not had it, these parathas are like 2 inches thick with whatever stuffing you asked for oozing out and they taste like nothing (really, Nothing!). They are just hot, that’s all. So that you get to taste something, they give you dark chhole and a darker dal makhani to go with it. You take a piece, dunk it in any one (they taste the same, btw) and chew. It is amazing how tasteless they can make it.

Last time I was in Delhi, I just loved the Chhole Bhature at Haldirams. Since then I have always wanted to have another go at it. Sadly in Chennai, you don’t get good ones – they taste like Sambar powder has been liberally sprinkled in the Chhole. So when I got to Mumbai, these guys had these HUGE photos (again, the same trick) of Chhole Bhature – one guy called it his signature dish too. Is making reasonably good Chhole thaaat difficult?

Back to present. So then I was thinking, why do I keep repeating my mistake over and over again? I also thought about their strategy. I am sure they all sneak away from time to time to eat the dabba they ordered from outside. So how do they have the guts to feed the customers such rotten stuff?

I can think of three main kinds of customers eating food at the food courts:

1) Office goers get tired of office food and want to eat something different for a change
2) Office goers want to get out of office for a while and visiting the mall for lunch makes a great excuse
3"I don’t care about the food – I came there for shopping anyway. So I will have anything and move on".

I think predominantly malls see the third kind of crowd – and these lousy joints survive because of the third kind. I think any food court dependent on regular office goers will see these lousy joints wilting away.

Theories apart, I still think these guys can make a little effort in improving their food – it can’t be that difficult now, can it? Till then, I need to avoid them like plague. Like I said - Malls and Food dont mix well (Is that why the food courts float on top? hehe..)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A first post for the 4th time!

So here I am...back again with a first post. As my earlier attempts lie buried somewhere in cyberspace (Is someone paying for that space, btw?), I am back again with a new URL. I read somewhere that blogging can be addictive. Hmm... how does one jump over the initial crest to fall into the category of a "regular blogger"? What does a regular blogger get from blogging? As a consultant, I have been brainwashed into thinking about an "end purpose" - an elusive little rascal it is turning out to be though! All this thinking was put to an end by my wife who started to blog a few days back. It has motivated me to start blogging because I think I'll enjoy writing too. So here I am...back again with a first post.