|A would-be hidden joint in a neighbourhood market but for the attached bar
Atmospherics: Sector 15 has none of the cachet of say, Sector 29 in Gurugram. Electrical repair and dry-cleaner stores suggest that it used to be a strictly neighbourhood convenience for take-away joints and grocery stores. Seven years ago, Café Lungta opened a modest-sized eatery on the ground floor with a speakeasy in the basement – Cocktails and Dreams. The vibe in each place has been kept as different as possible, but on a practical level, the live music on weekends makes conversation in Lungta a slight challenge. However, nobody above the age of 35 ever visits on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the food is unpretentiously Nepalese. Such home-style/dhaba-style food in a restaurant would be a travesty within Nepal itself, but in a suburb of Delhi, it has great cachet because of the inverted snobbery statement it makes. Also, it is comfort food to anyone who has lived or worked in that part of the world: Café Lungta was introduced to me by a friend who lived on a tea-estate once upon a time.
Table talk: The best news is that there is zero adjusting to the ‘local palate’. There are momos and noodles aplenty, many of them vegetarian; there is bhut jholokia – one of the hottest chillies in the world – as well as dallae khursani – another spicy bomb from the Sikkim-Darjeeling-Nepal belt. So, whatever your tastes, you should find something you are sure to like. It is not a sophisticated cuisine, however – few mountain cuisines are – but the atmosphere and food are supremely well-matched. Do try the Wai Wai Sandheko (Rs 215): barely steamed noodles with the crunchiness intact in parts, and the appeal bumped up with sliced onions, tomato bits, coriander sprigs and lime juice. Likewise, Khaaja (295), the collective name for snack in Nepali, consists of a thali with Nepali puffed rice in the centre and tit-bits around it, including carrot pickle and fermented potatoes. A great vegetarian option. Shyapta (Rs 375) is thinly sliced meat (choose from pork or chicken) or vegetables in a stir-fry of onions, tomatoes and chillies. Served with a steamed bun, it was the quintessential farmers’ lunch in Tibet. Sukuti (Rs 450/395 mutton/pork) is for the adventurous palate: air-dried meat, eaten as a bar snack in Nepal.
Must try: Chilli momos, chow chow, bhuteko bhaat.
Plus and minus: no frills dining. Spot on authenticity
Food: 3.50; Service: 3.50; Décor: 3.25
SCO 23, Ground floor, Sector 15, Gurugram
Tel: 98101014439, 8750582297
Open from 12.30 pm to 1 am
Alcohol, credit cards
Meal for two: Rs 1,000