Even with all of us eating out all too often, there are a few places bookmarked in my mind for special occasions only. The ones where boys have to wear closed, formal shoes and ladies can bring out outfits they swore they’d put to good use when buying them. Delhi is no stranger to dress-up dinners, and with some of the city’s genius kitchens knocking out food to superb standards, we’re all too happy to step out, roll up our sleeves, and get ready to dive in (ahem, whilst keeping elbows off the table). All of my picks for this list come from the world of five-star luxury—not because I intended to do so, but because these kitchens invest in the best chefs, the best ingredients and a truly luxurious experience that makes it worth your while. Restaurants such as Orient Express, House of Ming and The Spice Route are classics that know not to mess with perfection, while newer establishments like Wasabi by Morimoto and Amaranta have rightfully earned their chops (no pun intended.)
House of Ming
A legendary Chinese dining destination, House of Ming delves into the distinct nuances of Cantonese and Szechuan cooking. Like any true rock star, this place debuted singles like Crispy Spinach and Chicken with Aniseed, which quickly went on to find groupies and imitators throughout the city. But these dishes are best suited to the exquisite porcelain laid out in its original home.
Wasabi by Morimoto
We can’t be sure about Chef Morimoto’s reasons for leaving Nobu in New York and heading to New Delhi, but we’re certainly not complaining. This contemporary Japanese outpost isn’t necessarily light on the pocket, but it’s as much a visual delight as a pleasure to the palate. Don’t miss one of the signature dishes, the black cod miso.
This is a lesser-known gem that exists in The Oberoi Hotel, in Gurgaon. With its focus on coastal cuisine and plenty of modern menu interpretations to explore, the world’s your oyster. The fresh catch of the day is flown in from nine states hugging the Indian coastline, and will be ready to plate before noon each day. We love the corresponding recipes from each state, as well as special salts and pickles that make all the difference.
You might think that this restaurant is a gateway to Oriental cuisine, but in fact it’s named after the passenger train that opened up Europe to the rest of Asia. In a beautiful homage, the restaurant is constructed as a luxury train compartment that transports us back to an era of romanticism—perfect to enjoy the brilliantly classic European menu.
The Spice Route
It takes a remarkable degree of confidence for a restaurant of this stature to allow anything but the food to dominate conversation at the dinner table. This sumptuous fine-dining establishment is a feast for the eyes, with murals and antiques that reflect the roots of the historical spice route as much as the food. It’s all you can talk of in between bites of the Pan-Asian cuisine that covers Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.