Food trucks are no recent addition to Pune, but a group of them coming together to form an outdoor food court was unheard of until the idea made its debut in Viman Nagar a year or two ago.
An array of tables, a resolute line of trucks, and the twinkle of fairy lights at dusk, form Pune’s Food Truck Zone near Town Square.
The zone is currently a collective of six trucks—Rasoi Katta, The Eggs Factor, Pimp My Wok, Recess Time, TWB (The Wheel Barrow) and The Truck With No Name. Business for this group begins in the afternoon, but the highest footfall, not surprisingly, is on the weekends, between Friday and Sunday evening.
Although the opening time of these trucks is not uniform, food gets sold out and shutters are pulled down an hour before midnight every day. The average price of a combo meal—consisting of a beverage, starter and main—ranges between Rs. 210 to Rs. 500 across these trucks. While these prices have been kept synonymous to student budgets, the trucks also attract their fair share of families and bachelors—Viman Nagar houses a significant young working population, and it’s a demographic that does not shy away from trying new foods.
Although regulars are rare, the trucks attest that it is these groups who give them the most business. Raju has been cooking and serving food for The Eggs Factor since March 2018. He has seen the truck move to different spots in Viman Nagar, and says that trucks stay or leave (in the Zone) according to the profit they mint. The Wheel Barrow has been in Viman Nagar for a year, having moved from their original location in Koregaon Park. “We had regulars there, but only passers-by visit us casually in Viman Nagar”, says Faisal Khan, from The Wheel Barrow (TWB).
Sunil Bhati, a young professional, is a regular customer at The Eggs Factor. He says that he dines at the truck at least once a week on an average. And after trying out every truck’s offering, he has zeroed in on Anda Pav Bhaji as his favourite dish. “At this truck, you’ll get an entirely different taste compared to the others,” he said, polishing off the last morsel. “I never thought about hygiene, only taste. If I care about hygiene, I’ll go to a fine dining restaurant,” explains Bhati.
However, he was quick to add that the trucks do maintain good hygiene.
Despite a variety of foods being available in one location, the Food Truck Zone remains relatively unexplored by Symbiosis students. Instead, The Cheese Truck, a food truck parked near Symbiosis’ Viman Nagar campus every evening, remains the top pick for most customers in the area. While families and techies may frequent the former, most students are yet to shift their allegiance from The Cheese Truck’s cult favourite— deliciously indulgent—toasted, cheesy ‘Stoner’ sandwiches.
Guneet K. Bedi (Batch 2019)
Photo: Sean Antony (Batch 2019)