Chinese food is the most popular take away food. This has been so for a fairly long time. It is not an exaggeration to say that when people in India are bored of food at home, they opt for Chinese food. Well, how else can one explain the rise of the local ‘chaineesenoodels’ that is seen almost in every alternative locality in many Indian cities?!
It is interesting to note that just like the food, the spelling of Chinese food also has had many variations in India. Some variations that occur quite commonly are – Chaineez and Chinice. I am sure there are many more that are heavily influenced by the local diction of a place. There are even a few popular jokes that circulate on Whatsapp.
The spellings apart, these local food joints that sell Indianized versions of Chinese delicacies are becoming innovative in retaining their customers. Food delivery is their new weapon. Some of the big ones opt for aggregators like Swiggy or Food Panda. A few smaller entities attempt to work like Freshmenu, though not at the same level of quality that Freshmenu can deliver. These innovative Chinese food joints employ one or two people who work as their feet on the street. These people are mostly teenagers who want to raise a quick buck. They work as agents of sorts. They take orders, deliver and in some cases cook too.
It is interesting to note that this model is becoming popular in sections of cities where there is a desire to eat out but not enough money to order from big shot restaurants. Some loyal customers of this model also attribute their interest in local Chinese food joints due to their heavy customization to the Indian palate. This is a practice that is not commonly seen in big restaurants.
Most customers of such businesses are college kids who have limited access to money but have an appetite for a variety of food. Peer groups and life style habits make eating out cool. Authentic cuisines or signature restaurants are not in the budgets of these students. Plus, most of the college kids are not acutely aware of health. Taste buds takeover reason and logic when it comes to food. Local Chinese food joints have been able to satiate students on all these counts. A simple party in such a joint is easily manageable for a college student. It comes well within the budget, they have fun and sometimes can even host a party on credit.
I wonder if this is an opportunity or a threat for restaurants and food delivery entities. It can be an opportunity to launch a new line of business for the innovative thinkers. It can also seem like disruptive competition for some. Times ahead will help one understand how much of these two trends will compete or co-exist. In the meantime, there is enough and more variety for customers who like to dig into Chinese food or Chaineez food, either online or offline!