Sunday, April 8, 2007

Enchanting eateries

Not since spelunking through Bangkok and Cambodia have I been so entranced by wayside eateries. (Perhaps it's because I've thrown dieting to the wind and could thus enjoy plates upon plates of momos and thick slices of Tibetan brown bread slathered in butter.)

The Moonlight and Sunrise cafes are flush with one another and seem to serve exactly the same menu (chai, omelettes, what have you). But no, my friends, don't be fooled: The Sunrise Cafe actually serves -- I kid you not -- "the best chai in Asia." It sounded like a gauntlet, and S and I were eager to disprove the haughty man at the grill, but I'd be a lying, sinful blogger if I said my cuppa wasn't among my top five chais of all time.

I suspect that we could have had an excellent brew at the Tea O'Clock Cafe, but the shutters festooned with flyers about finding my chakras and learning traditional Tibetan massage perhaps indicates that the proprietors of the Sunrise Cafe ran them out of town in some sort of West Side Story-esque turf war, punctuated by an extravagant Lhamo operetta. That's OK; at our flat in Delhi, it's always tea o'clock, and we won't even glare at you if you malinger or start singing along to the Bob Dylan playing on a loop.

Sidewalk sellers of the ubiquitous fried/steamed momos were plentiful, and we availed of their goods no fewer than thrice. These men were selling freshly made spinach momos, though they weren't as chipper as some of the women in the lane, chatting and joking as they despatched the steaming plates. Nonetheless, and despite what all the fast food chains say, the food tastes just as good without service with a smile.

Although Chuki's Restaurant was being renovated, and we thus could not sample their earthly delights, the establishment wins my vote for best exterior decoration. However, some Googling indicates that the food is every bit as good as the vibrant political statement being made.

And thus concludes our abbreviated tour of McLo gastronomique -- it's round about tea o'clock, and a soothing mug of Kangra green tea is calling my name.

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