My review of Rigo Restaurant is not meant to be a treatise on Indo-China relations. That said, a quick background is indeed in order especially from my co-millenniumers who tend to live more in the present than in the past and choose to remain oblivious about our historical backdrop.
On October 7th, 1950, heavily armed and fortified troops of the Chinese so-called People’s Liberation Army, crossed the River Yangtze into Kham, the eastern province of Tibet in the foothills of the Himalayas to occupy Tibet. The occupation drove millions of native Tibetans to India whom the Indian Government resettled first in Dharamsala and subsequently in other parts of the country. A desolate, barren stretch of land close to the University of Delhi called Majnu ka Tila was to become the home for the Tibetan refugees for many decades to come. This is where Rigo’s Restaurant is located.
It is appropriately said that New Delhi is a paradise of hidden treasures when it comes to restaurants. A new culinary adventure always awaits us around the corner. I have been living in this city for the past 20 years and yet somehow there still are places that I don’t know about , markets that I have never explored, and restaurants that I have never visited. Trust me, I roam around the city a great deal . I love exploring the city and locating new eating joints.
One such hidden treasure that I recently came across is the Tibetan Refugee Area in north Delhi or locally known as Majnu ka Tila. The streets are narrow and all the residents of this lost community are from Tibet . There are Dalai Lama posters everywhere, monks praying at Tibetan temples and little children riding their tricycles fearlessly up and down the lanes. You won’t feel like you are in Delhi anymore.
There is a street market near the temple where all the restaurants owned by members of the Tibetan community are located. Imagine the level of authenticity of the Tibetan cuisine that must be served there. If you ever crave for momos and thukpa, this is the place to take over.
I went into one of the restaurants on the street called Rigo Restaurant mainly because the name intrigued me and the place looked good. My instinct told me that the food would be good and boy was I right.
The place is not huge by Connaught Place standards, there are approximately 8-10 tables available. The seating is comfortable with the option of couches also available to help you stretch and unwind after a long and stressful day in Delhi. It is essentially a white table cloth restaurant, both neat and clean. There are Tibetan tapestries on the wall and they place soft music from their native land. I found this music soothing especially since I had never heard Tibetan music before.
When I delved into the menu, I was both surprised and impressed to see the huge variety that Rigo’s served. I had no idea that Tibetan cuisine could be so extensive. They have about 10 kinds of momos , various starters, soups and main dishes. This happens rarely but I actually had to seek the waiters assistance to get to know what the dishes were as I had never heard some of their names before.
After much cogitation of both the internal and the external variety, I finally ordered the following dishes:
- Chicken Peking Soup
- Chicken Devil Momos
- Chicken Shaphalay
- Chicken Khao Suey
- Fish Clay Pot
And now the low down and a comment on the experience:
Chicken Peking Soup
The soup’s base was the usual chicken broth with veggies like cauliflower, asparagus and black mushrooms. I love black mushrooms both because of its unique texture and taste. There were diced pieces of chicken along with a special type of noodles. The noodles were special because they were glass noodles and are made out of rice unlike the normal noodles that are made out of durum wheat. They were not only tasty but also amounted to a visual feast of sorts owing to their unusual look and feel. The soup was flavorful, piping hot and delicious.
Chicken Devil Momos
If you are a momo addict like me, you will truly appreciate this spicy version of your favorite appetizer. You may even decide to say good bye to the traditional fried momos and the tandoori momos from QD’S or from your corner momo vendor for that matter. The Devil Momos are significantly larger in size than the usual fried momos. They are sautéed in a special secret spicy sauce and then topped with crunchy spring onions. If you like spicy food you should try them. The inner filling is rich and flavorful . The outer momo skin is thick and crispy . The dish is topped off with a thick spicy sauce. The Devil Momos at Rigo’s are yet another addition to the variations of momos that have inundated the streets of Delhi and are surely a competitor to be reckoned with.
The Chicken Saphalay is also a kind of momo that looks like a huge gujiya which is a traditional Indian sweet. The momo is deep fried with a generous chicken filling on the inside. The filling was a little bland and the outer skin was a tad oily. This might be because of the increase in frying time due to the momo’s relatively larger size.
Chicken Khao Suey
I personally love khao suey . There was a hint of coconut in the saucy pad Thai noodle-based dish . Along with the main dish, Rigo’s also served me a small platter of toppings. It featured peanuts, chilli, fried onions and fried diced garlic. You can add your favorite and create your own version. Once I garnished my Chicken Khao Suey with the toppings, it tasted as good or better than the same dish served at any high end Thai restaurant in the city.
Fish Clay Pot
The dish is cooked in a clay pot , thus the name. It has noodles with a thick gravy that has pieces of fish , capsicum, carrots and onions. The fish was boneless, soft and succulent. The dish, on the whole, was dominated by the flavor of black pepper. It was a tangy combination of fish gravy and noodles.
If you are a college student like I am, Rigo’s couldn’t be any gentler to your pocket book. Large servings undoubtedly add to the value, especially when you need to share a meal with a college classmate. The maximum price of a dish is Rs.280. BUT I have still not told you the best part. There are no taxes and all you pay is for the food you order. Rigo’s will still give you a check thus making the entire transaction eminently official. The restaurant is exempt from paying any taxes since it is located in a refugee area. There aren’t any service charges either. However, may I humbly recommend that you tip your waiter? It is a gesture they will remember and is sure to reap rich dividends the next time you visit Rigo’s at Majnu ka Tila.
- Taste- 4/5
- Variety – 4/5
- Ambience- 4.5/5
- Value for Money-5/5
- Satiety Value -4/5
The Munchers verdict is that you should visit this place at least once. You will enjoy the experience , the food and of course the wonderful prices.
What : RIGO RESTAURANT
Where: MAJNU KA TILA, NEW DELHI
Cost for two : RS. 500/-