In 2012, the Raju Omlet Centre in the western Indian city of Vadodara won a “Best Roadside food stall” award. Rajesh “Raju” Rana, the owner, said of the award,
“I have probably got more than what was written in my fate. This is an award for those who eat at my place.”
From a handcart in 1982 to a tiny restaurant in 1995 to an international franchise deal with two branches in Dubai in 2016, Raju Omlet is a wonderfully inspiring story. No crowdfunding, no venture capital investment, no IPO – just good recipes, hard work and fresh eggs. Lots of fresh eggs.
Raju Omlet is an Indian restaurant that specializes in eggs – all kinds of eggs – omelets, Bhurji (scrambled), half fried eggs, crushed eggs, power boiled, grated, you name it, if it can be done to an egg, Raju Omlet has done it.
Add to those eggs, the flavours and spices of the Indian cuisine and over 30 years of experience, you have a surprisingly dynamic menu that covers over forty menu items.
The latest branch is in Al Quoz and can only be described as a grungy, artsy Mumbai street café. Unpolished concrete floors, simple, elegant furniture with well-considered artwork and posters on the wall. The play on eggs is very apparent and although cute, thoughtful and humorous; there is a little danger of overplaying the whole egg theme. The light fittings are industrial and chic, and it is obvious there is a serious marketing mind behind this brand. It’s located close to Noor Islamic Bank metro station – a little difficult to find, but worth the google.
The Serb and I entered with the excitement of two lonely planet explorers, pushing open the doors to some mysterious, unknown world. A world unknown only to us, apparently. Several groups of all nationalities filled up the small restaurant, and they all sat with the confidence of obviously being there several times before.
The servers were all Indian, very charming, modest and attentive and dressed in yellow and beige – another unnecessary nod to the egg connection, I feel.
We ordered some cutting chai that arrived hot, sweet and thick. Cutting chai comes from the very simple habit of asking for a half portion of the full chai. The chai vendor literally cuts the chai portion in half.
As an unnecessary preventative measure, The Serb ordered an Adrak Chai, a special chai with a subtle kick of ginger – good for the digestion apparently.
My cheese Masala omlet arrived with some fresh, flakey buttery paratha on a side plate. This little, rolled pancake of eggs with chillis, coriander, and spices, was unassuming and modest. There was no fancy garnish or fanfare. No unnecessary accompaniments. I forked some into my mouth and immediately closed my eyes for a brief moment. It is an exceptional omelet – it makes you feel that little bit more alive. The spices coat your mouth and your tongue twitches in exhilaration. Your taste buds have nowhere to hide – not that they want to – they tingle with anticipation of the next bite. I was invigorated and inspired. It was bold yet subtle; the spices linger softly at the front of your tongue, and the cheddar cheese brings a balance and harmony to the dish.
The Serb, famous for her adventurous nature when it comes to food, ordered the plain cheese omlet with the bun. It arrived, fresh, yellow and lively. The cheddar cheese was plentiful and gooey and had the consistency of thick lava. The Serb delicately nibbled at a small forkful and gave a tiny nod of appreciation which is the equivalent of a champagne celebration for ordinary folk. She was impressed – I could tell.
When Raju cracked open that first egg back in 1982, few could have seen where this journey would have taken him. I hope success and accolades continue to be written in his fate.
Because at 45 dhs for two, this unassuming, quirky Indian egg restaurant is a little gem of a place that has left a wonderful impression on me.
Raju Omlet is one of only a handful of restaurants that provides a space and cuisine that is so egalitarian and equal. Or Eggalitarian. And on that pun, I think I’ve finished. There is nowhere else to go. Except back to Raju Omlet, perhaps.