As befits an outlet with a facade that looks like an egg, and named RK’s Egg Eatery, the menu at this Ahmedabad restaurant is replete with egg dishes, over 150 of them, and they have strange names such as Varsha Fry, Abhijeet Eggtra Special Omelette, Nitesh Special Omelette, Rosy Omelette, Maqsud Potato Omelette, Diana Kheema, Aiyaz Kheema, Aiyar Bhurji Extra Potato Chips, Meena’s Bhurji and Sunny Kheema.
Patrons—and the popular restaurant has several that can be called that—may not know it, but the menu is, in some ways, a reflection of students that have come from all over India to study at Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design (NID), and then moved on.
It was in the environs of NID that the first RK’s Egg Eatery came up in 1996. The restaurant was founded by Rajubhai, a eunuch from Ahmedabad who worked for several five-star hotels in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia before returning to Ahmedabad 11 years ago. “The only thing I had learnt was cooking eggs. So I decided to go for a joint to make different dishes of eggs,” says Rajubhai.
The choice of the location near NID was because the area attracted several foreign visitors. And NID’s students, Rajubhai says, were “open” to the idea of a restaurant run by a eunuch.
“They never had any qualms about my sexuality. They took me as a businessperson rather than dubbing me in a separate compartment as a eunuch or masi, as many derogatorily suggest,” he adds.
The students spent two to three hours at the restaurant every day, got to know Rajubhai really well. “They came from overseas and all parts of India and taught me egg dishes from their region or their own experimented recipe. This inspired me to name many of the dishes I serve in my joint after their names,” says Rajubhai, dishing out the secret behind names of egg dishes sold at his joint.
Special offerings: RK’s Egg Eatery came up in 1996. The restaurant was founded by Rajubhai (above), a eunuch from Ahmedabad.
Locals, intrigued at the sight of several smartly dressed young people spending a lot of time at the restaurant, and even cooking there at times, visited RK’s out of curiosity, and then discovered that they liked the food. Dr Mahendra Narwariya, a leading surgeon of the city, is a regular and likes the dishes on offer. “I have travelled across globe but rarely have I found such a place. I wish he keeps more international preparations,” he says. While running the restaurant near NID, Rajubhai met his business partner, a doctor, who helped him set up the branch at Polytechnic Cross Roads in the city’s college district. The new restaurant is a big hit with the college-going smart set. Sharvil, a third-year college student loves to eat at both of Rajubhai’s egg eateries. “The NID joint is more fun during winter evenings. But I love his place near government polytechnic. It is small and cosy. Though crowded, it creates that sense of togetherness when you are with a group of friends,” says Sharvil who did not give his second name. Krutika, a strict vegetarian and a Gujarati, frequents RK’s for cheese sandwiches (the only vegetarian item on the menu).
“None of my friends eats eggs, but we love the place for its ambience. It is small and Rajubhai always serves with a smile,” adds Krutika, who did not give her second name. Most Gujaratis are vegetarians, but some do not mind eggs.
Rajubhai earns anywhere between Rs8,000 and Rs10,000 a day and plans to open yet another branch in the city in the next three months. “I am also looking at opening an outlet in Mumbai and another in New York,” he adds. He claims that a non-resident Indian who has a restaurant there wants Rajubhai to join him in opening an egg eatery in New York. “He is from Gandhinagar. I plan to visit New York later this year to finalize the deal,” says Rajubhai.
In preparation, he has already started training cooks who will man the new restaurant in New York. “The big problem is getting right kind of skilled workers who will stick around or are willing to work with me,” due to the stigma that is still attached to being a eunuch, says Rajubhai.