For those who’ll never get over Chinjabi
Restaurants like all public spaces are more than a simple sum of their parts. It isn’t just about adding up the quality of the food, the service and the décor. As every restaurateur and devoted patron knows, the brick and mortar of these spaces acts as a repository of memories, emotion and culture. If the place lasts long enough, its sense of identity becomes so strong, the feeling of its time so immediate, it rushes at you when you walk in through the door. China Fare has been around for a while.
Looks likeIn the 7 years I’ve been going to Khan Market almost the whole market has changed. The only things keeping me from throwing myself into the Ship of Theseus conundrum are a couple of old stores, Chonas and China Fare. Absolutely nothing about this place has changed since I walked in for lunch as a litigation intern in my third year of law school. But there’s nothing that’s broken and nothing that really needs to be fixed. One wall has a soothing minimalistic lotus mural on lovely turquoise background and the other has a mirror. The place is basically a short corridor that can barely squeeze 2 tables in side by side, and there are always happy customers inside.
I’ve never really had a taste for Chinese food, authentic or otherwise, but even my instinctive distaste doesn’t keep me from recognizing that China Fare is really owning the whole Chinese via Chandni Chowk act. The menu is all you would expect from a Chinese restaurant set up in the 80s with deep fried everything, chowmein, chop suey and sizzlers. My personal favourites include the over the top Roast Pork Chilly (Dry), the relatively calmer Chicken Noodle Soupand the crackling Chicken Spring Rolls. If you’re really hungry and nostalgic dive into the American Chop Suey with a sunny side egg up top.
Nuanced and delicate are not words that come to mind at China Fare, this is just a wallop of in your face backed by the weight of sophisticated ingredients like ketchup and soya sauce.
You could easily condescend towards this little Chinjabi hole in the wall but that’d be missing the forest for the trees. China Fare is an institution people have been turning up to for years. They manage to keep their tables full even without a liquor license. Its every bowl of generously salted food is a throwback to times when upcoming restaurants proudly displayed Manchurian on their menus. Maybe the next generation will grow up eating authentic Chinese food. If they never know our interpretation, that’ll be a damn shame.