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Why Hauz Khas is Delhi's food village

With unpredictable eateries that whip food with art, options abound for the adventurous foodie at the Hauz Khas Village.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2012 02:00 IST
Shara Ashraf

Much loved for its fashion stores and art galleries, Hauz Khas Village is also climbing up fast on the Capital’s culinary ladder. As you tromp around the place feeling like Alice in Wonderland, you will discover quaint little places behind the vibrantly painted alleys and corridors. They are mostly run by young people wanting to do things differently.

Predictable has no place here. From Balinese to avant-garde Latin to Old English style teahouse, there’s hardly anything an adventurous foodie won’t find here. The crowd here is as eclectic as the Village. From French couples with a baby in the pram to dreadlock sporting young artists, you would find people lapping up the casual, easygoing spirit of the place. And by February, you will have at least five new places coming up in the Village (we spotted three new yet-to-be-named restaurants, and three bars — De Villa, Garage Ink, and Toro Toro, which is a pub-cum-grill that will be operational by next month).

In our two-part special series, you take you on a tour to must-visit joints in the Village. Watch out for our next feature that will feature other not-to-be-missed eating hubs.

Kafe Do’r:
An antique turquoise-coloured door opens your way to a pleasing space where large windows keep you tuned to the Village buzz. Framed black and white portraits of yesteryear Hollywood stars grace the all white walls; green plants lend a fresh, lively touch. Less than a month old, the eatery is owned by former TV actor Kamia Mulhotra who also runs D’Ultimate, a fine dining place in Andheri, Mumbai. The kitchen helmed by chef Hardeep Singh serves contemporary European fare. The biggest strength of Kafe DO’r is its team — the chef ensures that great looking, delicious food is served in liberal portions in almost no time, and a smiling bar manager KC (he uses his initials as him name) attends to each guest personally, helps you choose your order, and comes back for feedback. The menu’s stars are the creamy seafood chowder, smoked chicken salad, and king prawns. The chef also deserves a pat on the back for his grilled German pork chops.
Where: 8 A, Hauz Khas Village

Lah!
This petite, kitsch-meets-homely eatery owned by young chef Anisha Maker serves eclectic South East Asian fare. The walls are bright red and green, and a black tree sketch with quaint motifs takes up half of the red wall. And, there’s a cute little window cut into the wall that gives you a peek into the kitchen. A board close to it reads: ‘We are not an authentic restaurant, we just cook great food’, in bold. But don’t get bothered, as Maker’s take on Malay, Indonesian and Balinese food is delicious, and reasonably priced, and there’s a vegetarian option for every non-vegetarian dish. So, seat yourself on one of the wooden stools sculpted out of Thai drums, ask for whatever catches your fancy from the neatly lined up options (our pick, though, is mushroom crispy spinach salad, the smoky hot chicken wing, and the creamy Malay curry), relish the food served in black Manipuri
weather rock plates; and let the soft music grow on you. Be assured that you will be pleasantly smiling while you are dining there.
Where: Building No.6, Hauz Khas Village

Elma’s Bakery, Cakes & Tea Room
This fairytale-befitting bakery transports you to an English countryside as soon as you step in. Its other draws are a homely feel, delicious food, and unbeatable French pressed coffee. The environment is friendly and relaxed — the young manager Rohinee addresses guests with their names, and you might run into the musically inclined owner Gautam Arora — who also owns TLR — playing the giant white piano kept on one side. Gautam’s designer wife Smita Singh has done up the place with curios collected from flea markets all over the world. Lace dollies line shelves displaying quaint tea sets, and floral gingham drapes grace the parlour. The kitchen uses Shelly Sahay’s (Gautam’s mom) recipes. Shelly was trained at Le Cordon Bleau London, and now runs a teahouse in London. Their bread selection is applause worthy — from baguettes to pumpernickel to chocolate bread to bacon and sausage loaves. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you might just come back with one as the cakes and éclairs are all too good to resist.
Where: 24/1, Hauz Khas Village

Flipside Café
This cute little cafe with bright red and yellow walls, sketches on the wall, and quirky lamps, serves some of the finest crepes in town — both savoury and sweet. Team up the crepes with a latte — a perfect fix for a bad day. The menu also has pizzas (served by the slice), cakes, and daily specials (which could be pastas, salads, and quiches). Raavi Chowdhury, a young Indian-Italian with drooping Mongolian moustache owns the place, and the kitchen is run by his chef brother Robbie, who uses their Italian mother’s recipes to serve a homemade taste. Do try their Austrian desserts, such as the Linzer Torte, a short crust pastry with almonds, topped with fruit preserve. The café promotes art and you will find paintings and prints by upcoming artists put up on the wall for sale.
Where: No. 7, Hauz Khas Village

II II Tango
This three-week-old Latin American eatery is owned by chef Bhuvnesh Khanna, who has worked in the US for more than a decade with restaurants such as Mario Batali and Todd English, returned to India to “be remembered for something”. The whacky name — II II Tango — is a good start. The chef has designed the eatery himself (it follows a zingy red minimalist theme). He makes his own pastas, and is present at the eatery most of the time for a little chit chat with the guests. He also doesn’t charge you for mineral water. “Selling water is environmental abuse,” he says, and rebottles mineral water into colourful bottles kept on each table. Khanna has given his own spin to most of the dishes on the menu. Chiquito Tres Hamburguesas, for instance, serves you three mini hamburgers — chicken burger with papaya salsa, herb crusted lamb burger with caramelised onions, and beef burger with guacamole. The de-constructed tiramisu serves each component of the dish (espresso, cream mix and cake) separately plated. Don’t skip the pressure cooker lamb shank, probably the best dish on the menu that’s made with a tedious six-hour process.
Where: 13-B, second floor, Hauz Khas Village