One thing that Guwahatians can’t get enough of is momo. There is something so comforting about those small bamboo baskets of steamy goodness that make our mouths water.
A quaint tiny eatery specialised in Chinese and Tibetan cuisine is tucked away from the crowds, and the ideal place for a lunchtime pitstop. Considering how eager crowds breathlessly push to get inside the door on weekdays and weekends alike, Food Central in Bhangagarh, reliably dishing out tasty delights since inception, seems more like a hot spot.
The wait for a table here can extend into hours, and once seated, be jostled in the hangarlike dining room, jam-packed with families and students.
Take a seat on one of the few cosy tables. See the momo being made fresh by hand behind the counter, rolling and stuffing dough before pinching it back together quickly and yet carefully getting each one perfect.
The project started with two food-obsessed friends from Darjeeling, Suman Limbu and Pranisha Tamang, in love with delicacies from their native place, especially the slippery noodles, soupy thukpa, and juicy momo. Soon, they teamed up to serve Guwahati an authentic fare at affordable prices.
“I came to Guwahati three years ago. I used to be a teacher at Blue Bell School in Hatigaon. But I was always passionate about starting my own business. Suman and I have been friends for years and felt we could do something together. I discussed with him the idea of setting up a shop in Guwahati and asked him to come down to join me in this journey,” Tamang told EastMojo.
Suman, armed with extensive experience as chef at several restaurants in Bangalore, Manipur, and Sikkim, wanted to start small.
“We both are new to business. And we didn’t have big savings. We opened a stall in front of the Samsung showroom in Bhangagarh and the response we got was so encouraging that we could move forward in an organised manner. And that’s how Food Central was born in February this year. With Rs 2 lakh, we were finally able to give wings to our dreams,” Limbu said.
Since the duo had limited budget, Suman took charge of the interiors. Although the look is not extraordinary, the space oozes a positive vibe with its well-lit ambience, white and black seating, and the tidy open kitchen that also serves as a payment counter.
The menu may seem short if you’re comparing it to a standard Chinese offering. So, don’t compare! Rather, look at it as a set of stories from the queen of the hills, in edible form.
The pan-fried momo stuffed with chicken is juicy and soft — a reminder that Darjeeling isn’t that far from Guwahati. The Schezwan veg cheese momo, on the other hand, is gooey and drenched in a thick coating of sweetened soy sauce. Fish momo, an uncommon offering, is the star.
Each variant of the momo comes with a spicy chilli dip and piping hot broth of either chicken or vegetables. There’re almost 15 kinds to try out.
Our favourite chicken thukpa, fresh noodles with spears of chicken, celery and carrot in a delicately spiced broth, is priced at just Rs 80. And the quantity is more than filling for one. What amazed us, however, was how Suman methodically and masterfully steamed rice milk into firm, multi-layered noodles, sometimes laced with crunchy vegetables or knobs of chicken with chives.
Moving on to the noodle section featuring chicken hakka noodles, veg noodles, egg hakka noodles, American chopsuey, and special noodles platter. Try the egg variant served at room temperature. They are slippery with lots of toasty buttery tones before the chilli heat builds.
And if you’re looking for a quick bite, they’ve rolls and sandwiches. For the greedy ones, like us, the combos serve the purpose, and you get to try most of the dishes.
Talking about future plans, Tamang says: “At present, our customers are very happy with the food and service. We’ve recently partnered with Swiggy and Zomato for door-step delivery. This New Year, we look forward to launching another branch once things get back to normal.”
Most of the time, we tend to find good, authentic dishes at restaurants, which can be a tad harsh on the wallet if we’re running on a tight budget. However, with Food Central, one can now relish a delicious and bigger fare at reasonable prices.
Location: Kanaklata Path, Bhangagarh
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