When the first page of the menu tells you that gourmet expert Karen Anand has put together the menu of Zune — the newly launched specialty Indian restaurant at Janak Puri’s Hilton Hotel, your expectations of the food are anyway notched up. Thank God they are fulfilled too, as you discover later.
Quite different in look, feel and spirit from the Indian diners one is used to seeing, especially in this part of Delhi, Zune has attempted a unique positioning. That of digressing from the usual Mughlai fare and opting for combination-cuisine, comprising delicacies from Purani Dilli and Kashmir.
The décor in the fairly spacious restaurant is understated, in blue and copper hues. The concept of wazwan style low seating for some tables is rather interesting but it would have been better if that area was physically demarcated, rather than have the low seating right next to the normal tables and grant some the exclusive privilege to check out the ones playing footsie under their tables.
The wait staff is polite, and cheerfully inform us that the ‘famous chef from London’, Chef Iqbal Ahmed, heads up the kitchen. Trying out Chef Iqbal’s cooking turns out to be quite a delight, as you discover that the food isn’t overly greasy and does justice to the reputation Kashmiri cuisine enjoys in Delhi.
We started with the kebab platter (R 1100), skipping the option of pre-plated thalis with the ‘zune specials’ of butter chicken and dal makhani. The fish tikka had fresh sole encrusted with a thin layer of black pepper and was melt-in-the mouth-soft. The Barrah kebab with the kashmiri spice mixture rubbed on Peshawari styled trimmed double chops, albeit a bit too dry, were flavoured very well.
The chicken curry, Kukkar Patiala (R 800) was nothing to write home about but the Nalli ka salan (R 900) with potli masala in the delicious gravy more than made up for it. The best of the lot, however, was the Gucchi Pulao (R 950) or the morel mushroom in aromatic rice. It was succulent, it was fresh, it was excellent.
The Purani Dilli influence shows up more in the dessert list, with lots of kulfis thrown in. Go for the Khumani served with cream (R 300) for a variation. It works well to round off a great experience. And if you find it troublesome on your back to get up from the low seating, don’t say I didn’t warn you.