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travellers to india - some hints

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after reading the posts about bukhara etc. just below, i think its worth explaining a few things.

first of all, for historical reasons, restuarants at 'five star' hotels in india garner tremendous respect. usually, thats 'coz of the price: the restaurants at the taj or oberoi (whatever the city) will be THE most expensive places around, and as most people on this planet equate price with quality, thats the recommendation you are going to get.

especially if you are are a foreigner to india. the hidden assumption is that you'd rather eat in sanitised air conditioned comfort than sweat it out with the taxi drivers .. and where else are you assured of the quality of the water? so thats where you'll be steered to, and it takes some work to get to the really worthwhile places.

but thats not to dis ALL five star restaurants. for years, the best indian chinese restaurant in bombay was the golden dragon at the taj, and it remained my favourite till jim leff discovered indian oasis in queens. similarly, the restaurant that replaced the tanjore at the taj in bombay serves delicious vegetarian - almost home-made - fare, and the president in cuffe parade is a rare place to score konkani food.

finally, the prices. expect to be killed on the booze bill at any five star restaurant - the government of india imposes all manner of super-taxes on alcohol consumption at these places; in my view rightly so. given that most meals will be billed at the average yearly per capita income for an indian, you may see the point. also, india's economy is massively two-tiered - the parallel economy runs on cash on which no taxes have been paid. that kind of cash is always spent: on plane tickets, five star hotels, you get the drift.

moral: if at all possible, stay away from five star restaurants. but then you'll need expert local advice. but thats why you came to chowhound anyway, didn't you?

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