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The 50 best restaurants in the metros

We enlisted some help—probably the most qualified voices on the restaurant scene in India. A panel of dedicated foodies and restaurateurs.

     Print Edition: April 5, 2009

When we set out to list the 50 best restaurants in the country, our mandate was clear—eat as much as you humanly can, and be objective. But fifty restaurants? Please. We enlisted some help—probably the most qualified voices on the restaurant scene in India. A panel of dedicated foodies and restaurateurs. Listing their favourites and making recommendations are Marut Sikka, food consultant and owner of Magique; Anjan Chatterjee, who owns the Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta chains of restaurants; Ritu Dalmia, the owner and chef of Diva; Rahul Akerkar, Mr Indigo, now on the verge of his next project Tote, which we feature in our Appetite section; A.D. Singh, flamboyant restaurateur; Ajit Saldanha, a noted food critic; and not least, Jiggs Kalra, the owner of Punjab Grill.

Till the turn of the decade, the Indian palate had been quite conservative, barely venturing beyond Chinese. This past decade has seen an explosion of choices, and our list reflects just that. So from massive fine dining restaurants to humble holes in the wall, you will find them all here. Bon appetit!

Delhi

1. Bukhara at ITC Maurya
Creating wonderful NWFP cuisine for over thirty years, Bukhara is everybody’s favourite all the world over.
Cuisine: NWFP Cuisine (North West Frontier Province)
Contact: (91) (011) 2611 4444
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 3,000 plus taxes
Rahul Akerkar: Nothing else comes close and it has set the standards for every other restaurant serving Indian cuisine.

2. Varq at Taj Mahal Hotel
Grand Master Chef Hemant Oberoi’s baby, the 80-cover Varq is a combination of sophisticated dining, discreet service and exquisite interiors. Chef Hemant Oberoi reinvents Indian food with unusual creations and pairings, thus creating an exclusive gourmet dining experience.
Cuisine: Indian
Contact: (91) (011) 23026162
Meal For Two: Rs 5,000 for a three-course meal
Marut Sikka: The food is as good as it gets, the décor is impressive, though a tad Western, and the service is fantastic.

3. China Kitchen at Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Regency’s China Kitchen is famous for dishing out a range of Chinese delectables like Peking Duck and Beggar’s Chicken.
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (011) 66771334
Meal For Two: Rs 2,500
Jiggs Kalra: The open kitchen is not only a joy to behold, but it is worth dining at this eatery just for the Peking Duck.

4. Sakura at The Metropolitan
Among the most expensive restaurants in town, Sakura at The Metropolitan, remains unrivalled for its authentic, expertly executed Japanese fare.
Cuisine: Japanese
Contact: (91) (011) 42500200
Meal For Two: Rs 5,000
Marut Sikka: There’s only one word for it. Outstanding. Has to be one of the more consistent food places.

La Piazza
5. La Piazza at Hyatt Regency
La Piazza, the in-house Italian specialty restaurant at Hyatt Regency is a well loved haunt for many. The award-winning restaurant offers a selection of ovenfresh pizzas, al dente pastas and fine wines.
Cuisine: Italian
Contact: (91) (011) 26791234
Meal For Two: Rs 3,500
Jiggs Kalra: La Pizza boasts a fine Italian wine collection and is the only restaurant in India that has a food to wine ratio 1:1, which is quite spectacular.

6. Dum Pukht at ITC Maurya
Winner of Asia’s first “Golden Fork Award”, Dum Pukht recreates the legacy of the nawabs of Awadh through its suble cuisine.
Cuisine: North Indian (Awadhi)
Contact: (91) (011) 26112233
Meal For Two: Rs 3,500
Jiggs Kalra: I like the nawabi (princely) culture from which it is drawn, the food and the ambience at Dum Pukht are subtle and refined.

7. The Spice Route at The Imperial
Named as one of the top ten restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, The Spice Route offers the cuisine of the countries on the fabled spice route.
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Contact: (91) (011) 23341234
Meal For Two: Rs 2,500
Jiggs Kalra: Serves very authentic Thai food, comes very close to eating in Bangkok.

8. Smokehouse Grill
The capital cousin of Mumbai’s Salt Water Grill, Smokehouse Grill is famous for its fruity woodsmoked grills, superb cocktails and thumping Punjabi soundtrack.
Cuisine: European
Contact: (91) (011) 41435530
Meal For Two: Rs 4,000
Marut Sikka: Serves fantastic European food. Love the energy and the music, too.

9. Nanking
Nanking, the region, lies in central China and the Delhi restaurant lives up to its name by serving the best of all four Chinese provinces.
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (011) 26138936
Meal For Two: Rs 2,000
Marut Sikka : Great tasting Chinese and the pricing’s just right. Nanking has been fairly consistent from the start. The only problem is the limited menu, but the chefs here are more than willing to accommodate special requests.

MORE Recommends

ai
Cuisine: Japanese
Contact: (011) 40654567
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Magique
Cuisine: Asian and European
Contact: (91) (011) 29536767
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Mainland China
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (011) 29222123
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Shalom
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Lebanese
Contact: (91) (011) 41632282
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Diva
Cuisine: Italian
Contact: (91) (011) 29215673
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes.

United Coffee House
Cuisine: Multi cuisine
Contact: (91) (011) 23322075
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,000 plus taxes.

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