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Mar 20, 2006 04:07 AM

Bukhara, Maurya Sheraton, Delhi

  • w

Bill Clinton might have eaten there, but I hope he got better service than I did. I went on Valentine's Day and reserved ahead. I found the restaurant gloomy rather than atmospheric.We were seated on barrel-like stools at low tables, and arrangement that might suit some people but one which is distinctly uncomfortable if you are 6'3". I order cold mineral water and after a five minute delay I got luke warm mineral water. I then asked for very cold mineral water and, after another five minute delay, got luke warm mineral water of a mediocre brand. They also had a beer on the menu which wasn't (for a change) Kingfisher. I ordered it in happy expectation, only to be told some time later that the only beer they had was Kingfisher. The chappati they served was slightly burnt and inferior to many I had had at 300 ruppee restaurants, as was the butter naan. When my wife's meal was brought, she asked for a knife and fork. The waiter told her, somewhat haughtily, that it was customary to eat if with your fingers. He might have suggested ordering naan when she was ordering her meal. He brought the bill immediately after we had fnished dessert, giving us no chance to order coffee or chai, presumably so that he could get another sitting in. The food itself was pleasant, though not, I think spectacular. Its merit for westerners wold be that it is not highly spiced, something that you could not say for Punjabi by Nature in Priya plaza in Vasant Vihar, which is the best North Indian restaurant I ate in in Delhi.
On final comment about Bukhara. Wines in India are absurdly priced, for reasons that I was not able to determine. Even a bottle of local Indian wine will cost about 850 ruppees (=$21) in a restaurant. But that is scracely a justification for have a wine list that asks $80 for a Bull's Blood reserve or $800 for a 1997 Margaux (I'm quoting these prices from memory, but they are in the ballpark). Fortunately, no one drinks wine with Indian food, but it would have been nice to have a choice of beer other than the ubiquitous Kingfisher. And I would have liked the water cold. I got cold water with 70 ruppee thalis, for heaven sake.
The total bill came to about $100, without any wine.

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  1. I too ate at Bukhara about the same time you did. During my 6 week swing through India I found it one of the only two disappointing meals I had in a trip of often remarkably great food. I too found it dreadfullly uncomfortable, very dark, and very expensive. My lamb kabobs were a house specialty and I found them so over spiced (not with chilli but every other spice you could imagine) that the lamb was untastable and flavorless. Might just as well have had spice rubbed toast. The dal was outstanding, though. I will never go back. Never has a restaurant that has been so praised and hyped been so disappointing to me. Oh, the other lousy meal in India was at the almost as famous Raintree in the Taj Connemara in Chennai. Somewhat the same complaint. Had a fisherman's platter where every fish tasted just like every other, all grossly overcooked, and all with the same spice rub (again not much chilli) that obscured any flavor the fish might have had. Ay least the mosquitos enjoyed feasting on me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Fred Stare

      If you havent already, I hope you will do some posting about the great food you found on your trip - there will be plenty of interest! Did you travel to Kolkata?

      1. re: jen kalb

        Other than the beautifully spiced and reasonably priced meals at Punjabi by Nature, my favourite restaurant in Delhi was The Restaurant at Lodi Gardens. Combined with a stroll through the gardens itself - Mughal ruins, family picnics, young courting Indian couples - the restaurant had a magical outdoor patio, lovely kebabs and the richest chocolate mousse I have ever had. The food at the Ashoka, which was the first five star hotel in Delhi, is fairly banal, except for the omellettes, but the service is so good, from the salute by the turbanned doorman to the presentation of the bill that it is worth going for breakfast. Sarabandra Bhavan in Connaught Square is part of a chain of South Indian restaurants. The atmosphere is functional but the food is excellent. A Keralan friend and his Tamil Nadu wife took me there as a treat, which should say enough. Might as well go for the thali. I spent two weeks in Jaipur and the best restaurant there is Niros.
        My only suggestion in Kerala is to try the "special tea." In many restaurants without liquor licences, it tastes surprising like beer, though it is served in a teapot with a mug.

    2. I was just about to post about how Bukhara was a disappointment for me when I ate there two days ago (i.e. a random Tuesday). Our table of two was borderline ignored for long periods. I think the waiters were concentrating on the big groups that made up most of the crowd.

      And yes, their dal was good, but was it 450 ruppees good? For me it was a big feh.

      Our bill came to $100, artificially inflated due to a martini I foolishly ordered (1000 rupees! $22!). But all the same, a bill that large in India should bring with it stupendous levels of service and food, and Bukhara didn't come anywhere near doing so for me.


      1. I had a nice meal there about a week ago, the star of the meal being the roast leg of lamb (shared among three people). If I were to go back, I would definitely order that again (it cost about $50). I have to agree though, service is a bit slow, and it's definitely expensive by Indian standards, but maybe not so by North American/European standards ($200 for three people, including a glass of wine and beer). I strongly agree that those stupid barrel stools should be replaced.

        Anyways, it definitely wasn't the best meal I had in India, but I might be tempted to go back for the leg of lamb, should I visit New Delhi again.


        12 Replies
        1. re: cwant

          IF you do visit Delhi Again, Shoot me a message for some places to go.

          1. re: meatnveg

            Going back to Delhi In 2 weeks, last time I did make it to Bukhara and loved the dhal, but would like to find some good recommendations for all types of indian food.

            1. re: joshekg

              For excellent Andhra food, go to the Andhra Bhawan (1 Ashoka Road) for lunch. It starts at 12 pm IIRC, and I recommend getting there no later than 1.00pm. When you are there, order the Chicken Biryani and a Mutton Fry. Also, consider a thali. The MO is as follows, you enter the canteen and get a number from the short man at the desk who is calling out numbers. You place your order when getting your number and pay then. You can order more later. The biryani is only served on Sundays, the canteen is open all days.

              For indian street food, (tandoori meats, soups etc) go to the night market at the Atta Bazaar in NOIDA: ask anyone (in NOIDA) for the sector 18 shopping complex and you should find your way there.

              For a little more high end, Go to the Great Kebab Factory (several locations) and choose the buffet that allows you to have as many kebabs of all types. Good for an initiation into mughlai cuisine.

              For good vegetarian food (south indian veg) Sagar Ratna in Defence Colony is an old faithful, and 3 doors down is its sister resto Swagt (decent but spotty in service)

              Old stand-bys are; moti mahal, karims in old delhi, chor bazaar and the paan waala outside the Claridges hotel (only at night).

              If you are feeling adventurous, drive around the neighbourhood markets and watch for places with a Tandoor and skewers hung above it. There order anything from the tandoor and you can be guaranteed good eats

              1. re: meatnveg

                Thanks for the recommendations. I had Karim's and the Andhra Bhawan on my list already (and maybe Nagaland House). Do you know anything about Brown Sahib?

                I also was thinking of visiting parathawali gali probably on the same day as my visit to Karim's.

                I will most likely be staying near Vasant Kunj Phase II so if there is anything out this way that is worth visiting - maybe near Hauz Khas village?

                I think I'll pass on the paan though, I did not like the one I tried previously - I might be willing to give a different type another try but won't be seeking them out.

                1. re: joshekg

                  Brown Sahib is newer and I haven´t yet been there. As a rule, if they serve mughlai food (tandoori, biryani, etal) I would not go there, not because they may serve bad food, but i can get the same stuff at much cheaper price points any where else.
                  Go there if you see something on the menu that you don´t find elsewhere (for example, kashmiri and goan dishes are rarely found)

                  Parathawali gali, is best on an empty stomach since the dish in question is quite heavy. Perhaps separate karims and parathawali gali.

                  I am not aware of any exceptional places in Vasant Kunj. The vasant vihar market used to have some good ones, until a mix of school kids with money took it over and it turned into a giant fast food place. The Vasant Vihar market does have Punjabi By nature and the Oberoi Charcuterie and another grocery store that houses foreign products. Hauz Khas village has some restos but its been a while since I ventured into any of them. Diva (in Greater Kailash 2) has its fan following and serves italian. It is an upscale joint though.

                  In regards to paan. Give the meetha (sweet) paan from the guy outside Claridges a try)

                  Another hot spot these days is Khan Market. Try Khan a Kathi roll from either Khan Chacha´s or Saleem. FWIW, i prefer saleems.

                  For dessert go to Yellow Brick Road cafe inside the Ambassador Hotel. The hotel is right next to Khan Market. Order the Bulls-eye.
                  The other dessert rec I have is the Hot chocolate Fudge (HCF for short) from Nirulas. yes its a chain and the food sucks for the price, BUT, this single menu item is enough to draw me back every time.
                  The Big Chill is always good for desserts (3 locations on last count, Kailash Colony, Khan Market and Saket Mall)

                  1. re: meatnveg

                    Thanks for the recs, I'll report back on where I end up. Are the paan outside Claridge's better than usual? There will be a paan wala for certain at the wedding I am attending.

                    1. re: joshekg

                      the guy has been there forever, and you´ll see folks make a long trip just for the paan. That being said, Paan is a very polarizing taste I find. Some hate it other love it. Get the meetha paan from him and a meetha paan from the guy at the wedding, see if you can tell a difference. If the wedding is in Delhi and the people are rooted in New Delhi, the paan at the wedding will likely be from Prince Paan Bhandar in GK part 1. They used to be good until they started over-charging. The Nimbu Masalas are still pretty good though.

                      Overall, for Delhi at least, I find that Restaurants that rate badly, do so on the basis of price and quantity, rather than a decline in the taste of food.

                      Another Delhi thing-to-do is get Momo´s in Lajpat Nagar. Or in Chanakyapuri (outside the Chanakya Cinema hall).
                      A favorite of mine is the Chicken soup from a stall in Amar colony, ouside and a little before the main market

                      1. re: meatnveg

                        Ended up eating at the following places, will make a new post w detailed report shortly:

                        Punjabi by Nature - Gurgaon
                        Gunpowder - Hauz Khas Village
                        Sikkim House - Chanakyapuri
                        Lodhi The Garden Restaurant

                        Our trip to Karim's was derailed by the shooting as this was the day when we were headed over there before receiving a call informing us of a 'security situation'. We did not make it to Andhra Bhavan since we didn't manage to eat lunch till 3:30 and it was closed so we ended up at Sikkim House.

                        1. re: joshekg

                          Karim's offers a "taste of old Delhi", but I personally found the whole place too noisy, hot & overwhelming. The meat briyanis were pretty rustic and were not as refined or subtle as what you'll find in places like ITC Maurya's Dum Pukht.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Has anybody tried the Karim's branch over by Nizammudin? I understand its a bit fancier than the Old Delhi outlet We thought the Nizamuddin shrine itself and the way into it through the "village" were amazing. there were also many simple eating places lining the way.

                            It is notable in India that most of the muslims are rather poor - they are an underclass (with notable exceptions I guess) in modern India, so notwithstanding the lineage of the cooks its understandable that their cuisine might be a couple of pegs down (subtlety wise as well as price wise) from a corporate operation like a luxury hotel dining room.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              I tried going there as well, but arrived at 6 pm and they weren't open till 6:30 and I did not have the time to wait as I had an event to be at. So I unfortunately cannot comment on the food.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                Karims in nizamuddin is quite good. There is no real difference apart from the atmosphere. Its a regular place when we don't want to go all the way to old Delhi. BTW, the smaller joints in nizamuddin are also good, we like the ones on the main road

          2. Bukhara was very good ... many years ago. Nowadays, it's one of the restaurants I'd steadily avoid if I'm ever in Delhi - over-rated and over-priced!

            1. My husband and I went to Bukhara twice on our recent Delhi trip. Yes, it is expensive and the seating is weird, but I will overlook pretty much anything for that tandoori raan (leg of lamb) and the shrimp. Those are seriously special dishes that I am still thinking about weeks later. We found the butter naan and the dal great as well. Of course there is wonderful inexpensive food to be had in Delhi, but there is also excellent five-star hotel food, which is what this is and I don't think they are mutually exclusive. It is a nice complement to venturing out to more casual/chaotic/inexpensive places like Karim's and I would highly recommend both experiences.