The Rude Food Awards are a tradition that started over a decade ago, then became part of the HT City Food Guide and eventually came to be called the Vir Sanghvi Awards, when HT City instituted its popular and prestigious HT City Crystals.
Best Chinese (Standalone): Yauatcha
Ever since it opened in the Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, this branch of the Michelin-starred London original has been packing the punters in with outstanding dim sum including the legendary baked chicken puff and the excellent cheung fans. The non-dim sum part of the menu can be a little wobbly (too many sweet sauces in the stir-fries from the Malaysian-Chinese in the kitchen) but overall, an outstanding experience.
Best North Indian: Bukhara
Yes, I know: boring. But find me one other Indian restaurant that after 35 years of serving the same menu (only the prices keep going up!), still maintains its standards and is full night after night with guests from all over the world? A true phenomenon and a legendary restaurant.
Best European (Five Star): Orient Express
Who would have thought it? A restaurant that opened in 1982, does not depend on over priced expat chefs, and embodies the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work values that the Taj group was built on still beats the hell out of Le Cirque and all its newer, fancier rivals. In its own way, as much of a legend as Bukhara. Congratulations to Taljinder, Ashu, DN and the rest of the Taj Palace team for keeping the faith.
Best European (Standalone): Le Bistro du Parc
In a sense, the anti-Orient Express: small, reasonably-priced and modest in its ambition, this Defence Colony bistro brings out the true essence of French cuisine: a talented chef extracting the best flavour from local ingredients. Proof, if any were needed, that you don’t need to import your cherry tomatoes to cook a great meal.
Best Modern Indian (Five Star): Amaranta
I know that Kapil Chopra packaged this as a seafood restaurant when he opened the Gurgaon Oberoi but it is so much more than that. Delicious, delicate Indian flavours, wonderfully presented by talented chefs. In current form: better than Varq.
Best Café: Sodabottle Openerwalla
Ok so maybe it’s because I grew up in Bombay but I love the Cyber Hub Sodabottle. (Mixed reports about the Khan Market branch). Wonderful Bombay non-vegetarian street food (keema pav), acceptable interpretations of Irani stand-bys (Berry Pulao) and home-style Parsi (papeta per eedu). A great concept, superbly executed.
Food Company of the Year: Lite Bite Foods
Proof that two outsiders to the restaurant business (Amit Burman and Rohit Aggarwal) can create a massive multi-brand company out of nothing more than a passion to be the best.
F&B Professional of the Year: Somnath Dey
You may not have heard of him, which is how he wants it. But Dey has turned the Hyatt Regency into an F&B hub because of his obsession with food and service and his outstanding banqueting skills which keep the Hyatt two steps ahead of the competition.
Japanese Restaurant of the Year: Megu
A tough one because Wasabi is so good but, on balance, I’ll give it to Megu because the food is better, the restaurant looks better and the service is outstanding.
Hotelier of the Year: Anil Chadha
Every company has a few key employees who embody the values the company was built on. At ITC, it is Chadha who exemplifies the chain’s can-do attitude, its lack of snobbery and pretensions, its commitment to quality, its emphasis on personalised service and its quest for efficiency. He has transformed the ITC Maurya – the hotel he was probably born to run. And one day, this man will run a major hotel company.
From HT Brunch, November 16
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