Food trucking has become a game of hide and seek.
While the trucks move from one place to another, it is left to us, the customers, to try and find them in order to satiate our hunger.
One day while driving around the exterior of Sector 29 market in Gurgaon – which has since long become the hub for food-trucks – I noticed a new truck, but the very next day when I went there to eat, it had disappeared.
Then, almost by magic, a few days later I spotted it again at the very same place, only to find it parked at a completely different location – within the Sector 29 area – another couple of days later.
If you’re a regular in the area and follow food trucks in Gurgaon like I do, all the shifting around of parking spots that has been going on would make you think that there was a large scale game of musical chairs being played between the trucks. It’s gotten to the point where there’s utter chaos and unless the government steps up and appoints a place for the trucks, things will only get worse.
There’s been so much happening with so many new trucks driving in every other week that you’ll have to consider yourself lucky if you can find the truck you want to eat at.
Take Street Foods by Punjab Grill. I noticed it a couple of times in passing, but when I tried to find it on the day I planned to eat there, it had done a Houdini.
However, since I am a stubborn Sagittarian, not one to easily give up – unless the present day heat is making me lethargic – I finally caught Street Foods when they were open and serving – no less after four tries.
Before I get into reviewing the truck – or rather the food that comes out of it – I wanted to put a spotlight on how fast this trend has caught up in the city. If you had doubts about the viability of food trucks in terms of business, the fact that established food businesses – The Lalit Food Truck and now Punjab Grill – are getting into it should be proof enough to change your mind.
Not to mention that some entrepreneurs (and no I’m not going to use that dreaded word – startups) have moved on to their second, third, and even fourth truck simply means that it is a business that makes money at some level. How things will change when everything is regularized is yet to be seen.
Now, being part of the Punjab Grill chain one can automatically expect some Tikkas and Daal Roti to be served at Street Foods. I’m happy to say that the truck hasn’t just followed the present trend of serving wraps and burgers, but instead have come up with more of a North Indian menu and have kept it simple. The open barbecue they set up alongside the truck is a welcomed sight and slowly that too is being copied by other trucks.
There are the unnecessary usual suspects with burgers and the “Chinese” options and here I would once again like to reiterate that food trucks are meant to be unique whereas less and less trucks are experimenting with the food they are serving. There had been a huge gap available for North Indian food in the Gurugram food-truck business and Street Foods somewhat fulfils part of it with what they have.
Following the trend adopted first by What The Truck!, almost all trucks now have tables and chairs on the pavement for customers, which is perfect especially during the winter months. Street Foods is no different in this regard. And, it was nice to receive good service which has become somewhat of a gamble with the newer trucks.
The menu at Street Foods is still on the extensive side. The idea of a food-truck should be to have fewer products, but unique in nature. Although I approve of the Thali and the Daal Makhni that they serve and even appreciate the Egg Wraps, they can surely get rid of their Burger and Noodle section to streamline the menu a little bit more.
The Paneer Tikka that I had was a few minutes short of charring and just the way I like it. While it lacked any substantial seasoning or marinating, it tasted great with the coriander chutney and raw onions that came along with it. Yes! It was your typical Paneer Tikka that almost every North Indian restaurant serves but being freshly made over a coal barbecue and served hot gave it that slight extra edge at the time.
The Afghani Chicken Tikka on the other hand was in comparison to the say a normal Chicken Tikka – something that is also available at the truck – a lot more moist but not exactly juicy. It’s marinated sufficiently in yogurt and while I liked it, those that enjoy spicy food might find it on the blander side.
However, both the Tikkas proved to be perfect with the Tawa Parantha – cooked nicely and very flaky. I would have loved to try their Rumali Roti, but unfortunately it wasn’t available at the time.
The Double Egg Wrap at the truck lacked the kind of taste one get from the roadside street vendors popularly found outside office complexes or colleges, but nevertheless it’s well made and a lot of it has to do with the fact that their cook makes a good Parantha that forms a non-chewy and flaky base to the ingredients.
The Shikanji though was forgettable, and for now I would recommend having water or an aerated drink with your meal.
The quantities at Street Foods are good and the above meal was more than enough for two hungry souls. It’s priced quite reasonably, in accordance with food-truck prices.
The important question at the end is if Street Foods by Punjab Grill stands out from the crowd?
The answer is that to an extent it does. It might not be revolutionary or experimental – which would have been a good thing in this case – but it serves comforting and well made food that I wouldn’t mind having again.