This review first appeared in Mail Today on March 13, 2015. Copyright: Mail Today Newspapers
By Sourish Bhattacharya
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE to run a food court without a McDonald’s and a Haldiram’s. No one had challenged this received wisdom till Select Citywalk, which has seen food brands such as the newbie Yum Yum Cha, Johnny Rocket, Krispy Kreme and the leader of the pack, Mamagoto, deliver unheard-of revenues per square foot of real estate, decided to knock this logic and rewrite the rule book.
It got Sid Mathur, head of food and beverages at Riyaaz Amlani’s Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, whose most recent big success has been the Social restaurants, to curate a food court minus the usual suspects. Then it raised the bar for the average price paid per person, lifting it above standard food court levels, and yet, My Square has not seen a dull hour ever since it opened about a month ago.
If anything, My Square has proved that Delhiites don’t shy away from paying for good food, even if they’re at a mall. And by signing up aspirational brands such as H&M and Gap, the mall management has ensured that the kind of people who will be drawn to Select Citywalk are more likely to be drawn to a Fat Lulu’s or a Pita Pit, than to Haldiram’s (by the way, I have nothing against the hallowed brand!) or some dosa QSR. My Square, as a result, has non-competing brands representing most of the entries you’d find on all lists of Delhi’s favourite restaurants.
There are a lot of good things to eat, so one wonders why the same care did not go into the selection of the dispensers of drinks – the juice guys, Refuel, for instance, are busy spoiling the party with their sugary concoctions and you can’t expect Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to turn over a new leaf overnight. Anyway, I am looking forward to the day when the enclosure designated for alcoholic drinks to be served gets its licence soon to slake our unquenchable thirst for all manner of essential liquids!
What has also left me mighty impressed is the care that has gone into planning the layout of the food court. You’re greeted by a display of Happily Unmarried products, which also doubles as a segregator; the seating is comfortable, the level of cleanliness is impeccable (I believe the tables were subject to a repeated spilled soy sauce test to check out how effectively they could be wiped clean), and there are cozy corners as well as an expansive terrace with tables laid out for al fresco seating.
But what really holds the place together is the variety of food options. There’s rawa masala dosa of Saravana Bhawan and there’s also Shiv Sagar’s unbeatable Chinese Bhel and Chilli Idli Pav Bhaji at SS On The Go (the QSR brand of the Mumbai restaurant that has taken the Delhi market by storm with its street treats). For every 300 kcal pizza or 200 kcal steamed burgers from Lean Chef, you have the unputdownable beef fries, mutton and potato ishtoo, and idiappam from The Toddy Shop, the Hauz Khas Village sensation, or the New York-style pizzas of Fat Lulu’s.
My Square gives you the option to go lean one day with Pita Pit’s healthy sandwiches and to indulge on another day with Pind Baluchi’s kababs and apple cinnamon tarts. For those with more exotic tastes, there’s the Syrian and Egyptian spread prepared chefs from Dubai at Rrala’s Habibi, or Mex It Up’s do-it-yourself menu, and of course, the local favourite, Kylin, which is represented by a van, Vanchai by Kylin Express, serving dim sum and lettuce wraps, among other palate ticklers. You can never get repetition fatigue at My Square. Even for ice-cream, you have the choice of checking out Gelato Italiano’s droolicious offerings, or settling for my favourite, the paan kulfi of SS On The Go.
I urge other mall managers to roll out copies of My Square – imitation, as they say, is the best form of flattery – so that we have many more reasons to go mall hopping!