YMCA Indian Student Hostel - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

YMCA Indian Student Hostel

It’s fun to stay at the YMCA… but at this London outpost, it’s even more fun to eat the Bombay aloo. 

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The unassuming canteen attached to the long-standing Indian YMCA mouthwatering dishes are on display from self-serve, all-you-can-eat buffet trays showcasing local dishes from across India’s culinarily diverse 29 states. The affordable prices (ranging from just £6.50 for breakfast to £13 for lunch and dinner), make it as much of a favorite among local office workers as the students lodging there. 

Favorites among patrons include chicken korma and biryani, while Thursdays are dedicated to South Indian dishes like sambar, a spicy lentil soup. Freshly prepared home-style curries (the Kerala fish curry, egg curry and butter chicken are popular options), tandooris, onion bhajis, and dhal offer a filling feast for the senses. Rice and condiments, as well as drinks such as coffee and Chaas, a refreshing herb-infused yogurt drink, are complimentary.

The canteen, located on the building’s ground-floor Mahatma Gandhi Hall, is a central hidden gem for many Londoners, situated near Fitzroy Square and just a three-minute walk from Warren Street Station. Established in 1920, the hostel is a hub for the young Indian diaspora community in London, and offers a rich culinary and cultural space for British Indian history. Thanks to the communal dining hall setup, where tables are often shared between groups of strangers, conversations with new folks are common, lending to a comfortable, almost family-like atmosphere. 

While YMCAs are historically Christian institutions, the Indian YMCA prides itself on being an interfaith organization that embraces and celebrates all communities. Residents and visitors alike appreciate the inclusive environment where shared experiences warmly bring people together—regardless of religion, language, or cultural heritage.

Know Before You Go

Save ample time during the weekdays when lunch (noon to 3 p.m.) and breakfast (7.30 a.m. to 9.15 a.m.) lines are at their longest.

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August 7, 2023

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