It’s a turn-your-umbrella-inside-out weekend, and sure enough, a day after its grand opening, four out of seven trucks at Bandra’s new food truck park are shut, their staff struggling to make it out to the sloping concrete roof above Anthony Garage on Pali Hill.
However, if you had your doubts about the wisdom of creating a) a lot full of b) stationary food trucks in c) increasingly fussy Bandra during d) the monsoon, rest assured that you appear to be in a minority. On the stormy afternoon immediately after launch, the Mumbai Food Truck Park is full of families, canoodling teenagers and curious lunch-breakers, all dressed in raincoats and waiting patiently for what waffles may come.
Triumph Of The Wheels
The park itself is an unremarkable concrete lot where the trucks huddle as if sheltering each other from the rain, directly opposite a roofed seating area to which truck staff will bring your food once you’ve queued up, ordered and paid. Presiding over all this is ringmaster Roysten Misquitta, chief of the Mumbai Food Truck Society, who stomps around in gumboots handing out masala peru (guava, not the home of Mario Vargas Llosa) and mocha bourbon ice-cream from Scoopalicious, his smash-hit ice-cream truck which now finds a permanent home here.
The food truck park is a long-cherished dream of his, he told us when we called him a fortnight previously. “We’ve finally wrangled all the permissions, so we’re here to stay,” he says—after a fashion. The trucks will change every three months or so, and he says some are driving in from as far afield as Gujarat, by all accounts the laboratory of India’s food truck fads.
Presiding over all this is ringmaster Roysten Misquitta, chief of the Mumbai Food Truck Society, who stomps around in gumboots handing out masala peru (guava, not the home of Mario Vargas Llosa) and mocha bourbon ice-cream from Scoopalicious, his smash-hit ice-cream truck which now finds a permanent home here.
Alas, on this particular afternoon a gleaming, toasty-looking “Waffle Truck” is shuttered, as is a fat happy red vehicle called “Pettoos,” which promises, among other things, a Parsi-style chicken cutlet burger. Such bubbles of experimentation, including Roysten’s off-beat ice-cream flavours and a sorpotel pizza on the menu of By The Way (a tempo formerly of Mahim), rescue the park from seeming like the open-air version of a suburban mall’s food court.
Goodbye Pork Pie
But then, no mall can quite put a rustling July breeze in your hair and the sight of tall old Pali Hill trees shadowing the corners of your table. There’s nothing especially gourmet about any of the food on offer, but we can see why it’s such a hit even on Day 2—all the food is earnest, hard-working home-kitchen stuff.
Our table makes short work of By The Way’s bacon pizza, a cute eight-inch number that takes your Udupi-hotel pizza and infuses it with some properly-fried, fatty crunch. By The Way also brings us a big portion of “Peruvian” fries—Vargas Llosa you are everywhere today—that go very nicely with the pizza and the weather, but are essentially home fries with tomato sauce, mayo and chicken sausage. Is that how they make it in Arequipa?
We suspect the big hitter here will be PBI Khaana, a Punjabi food truck that’s taking a break from its usual routes around Vashi to dole out big plates of rajma, dal makhni and butter chicken with rice or kulcha. It’s not the best butter chicken you’ll eat in this neighbourhood; but then no one has yet figured out how to deliver home the comfort of being served a steaming meal on a leaf plate and letting you make a picnic of it. (PBI’s dal makhni is solid, no-nonsense stuff, too, scaling back on cream and butter to make the dish more like the sort of thing you’d eat at Suri aunty’s house in Karol Bagh on a Tuesday night.)
None of this quite eclipses Scoopalicious, Roysten’s local phenom to which everyone at the park gravitates, content to soak to the skin while waiting a turn at his now-famous ice-cream truck. Consistency is not Scoopalicious’s strong point, and our cup of mocha bourbon has too many confusing textures to recommend itself. On the other hand, the chocolate and guava flavours hit it out of the park, so to speak. We take a moment to mourn this truck’s previous handy location outside St Peter’s Church. May it please the lord to protect us from the inevitable crush of whiskey-banana fans the next time we feel a hankering.
Getting there: Mumbai Food Truck Park, above Anthony Garage, St John’s Road (around the block from Candies), Pali Hill, all dishes at the food trucks cost under Rs 250.
Accessibility: A bumpy concrete ramp leads up to the park; no bathrooms.