Bukhara, ITC Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi
At long last! After years and years of crying over Bukhara's departure from Singapore, I made sure that the original location (Diplomatic Enclave, Sadar Patel Marg, 2611-2233) was going to be one of my first destinations to hit up in Delhi. Even before we got seated, everything about the place came screaming back to me; they used the same uniforms, tableware, and big wooden menus. The grill was behind a big glass pane, just like the spot they had at the old Clarke Quay, and they also gave those checkered bibs (although these had a little Sheraton logo on them). Yes - I was finally back!
More importantly, I got the two items that I came for: the murgh malai kebab and the famous dal bukhara. The former was even more smoky and tasty than I remembered it, while the latter similarly had an even bigger cube of ghee sitting in the middle of it than I could recall, thus creating a very rich yet mildly spicy concoction that was pure heaven (not to mention sleep-inducing in the car ride home!). They also gave a little salad of raw onion slices sprinkled with cumin or something that one was supposed to squeeze lime on top of and then mix with the green chutney.
Not all was perfect though. The papadum that they gave us while waiting at the bar were disappointingly stale, and the service was also a bit inattentive under the weight of the huge crowds here. Clearly their ranking in Restaurant magazine (refreshed for 2007 at number 37, by the way, and still the "Best in Asia") was a huge factor in that. I suppose that also allowed them to command much higher prices than I remembered them being in Singapore, with the murgh malai kebab clocking in at 1095 Rupees (US$26.70) and dal bukhara at 425 Rupees (US$10.40), thus adding up to a pretty hefty triple-digit tab for the two of us after adding in drinks and naan. Still, I'm definitely glad that I came, and certainly do hope that their huge popularity will motivate them to re-open their Singapore location again soon. If not, I'll just have to remember that the Delhi location doesn't take reservations after 8:30 PM, and if I'm forced to wait for a table as a result, then I hope that those papadums at the bar aren't stale again.
Side note: this has unintentionally become my fourth Bill Clinton restaurant.