Taste Test: NoonStop
Appam and stew.
NoonStop is Mumbai's latest lunch delivery service, which is stealthily operating in the western and central suburbs. Started by a bunch of IIM Kolkata graduates, NoonStop delivers set lunches with a different menu for each day, which includes dishes from regional cuisines from across the country. The inspiration for these recipes – co-founders Pradeep and Smitha tell us – come from their homes, friends’ mothers and grandmothers and their two head chefs who bring in their own experience.
While NoonStop sends set meals, they don’t operate like a tiffin service sticking to the usual format of dal, subzi, roti, salad, papad etc. There are different combinations every day ranging from north Indian dishes like lauki ke kofte to south Indian arbi pulusu.
NoonStop has four meal types – Big Leaf, Leaf Light, Leaf n Meat, Leaf n Meat Life – all with different combinations of the same set menu. Since there’s a fixed menu for every day, the ordering process is fairly quick. The order can be placed on the previous day till 12 am and the payment can be made online as well as via cash on delivery.
NoonStop covers a fairly vast area of the city and if your area isn’t listed, you can simply put in a request with your address and they’ll deliver the food to you depending on the feasibility. We ordered on two consecutive weekdays and requested the delivery in Chembur, which isn’t their regular area of delivery. However, a quick phone call from one of the co-founders – yes, they handle their customer service themselves – ensured that we got our food. The lunch is delivered between 12.30 – 1.00 pm. The delivery for their regular routes is handled by the dabbawallas, while their in-house delivery staff delivers to the newer areas.
We got our delivery at around 12.30pm on the first day, but had to wait longer on the second day. However, owing to the fact that they don’t deliver in Chembur regularly yet we didn’t have any grouse.
The food comes neatly packed in microwave-safe plastic boxes and there were no leakages when the food arrived. The food is sent cold, which they explain is to avoid spoilage. The food is allowed to cool down before being tightly packed so that it survives the transit.
We had ordered a Leaf n Meat – 1 non-veg dish, 2 veg dishes, 3 chapatis and rice and Big Leaf – 3 veg dishes, 2 chapatis, 1 appam and rice. The portions were enough to suffice one person.
A NoonStop meal. Photo: Shirin Mehrotra
There’s a comforting homemade feel to the dishes, which is so unlike the standard restaurant or catering style food. The lauki ke kofte were soft, cooked in a mildly spicy onion and tomato gravy and tasted straight out of a kitchen from north India. The Andhra-style kairi murg didn’t have enough sourness from the green mangoes, but the curry was home-like with chicken that was cooked well. A cumin and coriander stuffed dried red chilli accompanied the meal, which had a lovely burst of flavours. The baigan bharta on the second day had a nice smoky flavour, but was a tad bit oily. The vegetable stew and appam as a dish was a nice distraction from the roti-subzi. The food was consistently low on oil and chapatis perfectly soft.
With regional specialities, seasonal vegetables and home-made feel, NoonStop is clearly one of the best meal services around. It’s slightly heavy on the pocket to be ordered every day, but we wouldn’t mind replacing our home-cooked or office canteen food with NoonStop’s meal once in a while.
Rs. 190 for Leaf n Meat, Rs. 170 for Big Leaf
This review wasn’t conducted anonymously, but the author paid for her own meal.
The author is a freelance food and travel writer and shares her stories on Foodchants. She is on a perpetual quest to learn about the history of regional food.