Thursday, March 26, 2009

India bit 7: How to spend money

My cousin Mandy is on time this morning for our day together. We will be joined by cousin Ro later. Enroute to Saket Ro calls to cancel due to emergency shaadi shopping for someone. I will miss her but I know that Mandy and I will have a fabulous time – we always do. We are at Select City Mall (again!), but a different set of shops beckon. I buy armloads of stuff I don’t need but definitely want (I know, it’s a curse), all vetted and devil’s advocated by Mandy who has good taste, a clear sense of value for money and an eye for a bargain to boot.

We are soon laden with (my) bags by lunchtime and we decide that our marathon spending deserves to be crowned with food. We dither between the food court and the range of restaurants available and decide on an Italian place to eat. The interior is huge and roomy and full of gold foil, mirrors, crystal baroque. Besides us the only other people are a table to 20 Japanese women (on their version of a kitty party no doubt). M and I share a spaghetti bolognaise, a mushroom & pepperoni pizza and yet more gossip. The service is a tad over-attentive with a different waiter interupting to ask if we need anything else, is everything fine, about 30 times in the short hour. But the food is fresh and tasty and these two hungry shoppers devour it in no time. We have talked without pause all morning, catching up on stories and gossip.

It is late afternoon by the time I am home for a food induced siesta. I really miss living in Delhi when I go back on vacation and meet Mandy. We used to hang out a lot (and by that I mean A LOT) when I lived at home and she lived close by. Her daughter T is just the most delightful of nieces one can have and I miss that she isn’t in Delhi anymore for me to spoil.

Tonight 5 of us are at Ai in the adjacent Mall in Saket (I should have just stayed there!) for a Japanese inspired dinner – the parents, the Nik, P and I. We are seated on the terrace enjoying the cool of a Delhi Spring evening/ night. The indoor and outdoor bits of the restaurant are full and buzzing and we do a bit of celebrity spotting. Among other things, we order sesame tenderloin, spring rolls, pork belly, chicken teriyaki, prawn tempura, a vegetable stir-fry and an egg & seaweed fried rice. Despite asking for 3 of these dishes to be served at the same time as my dad and I are sharing our main course they all come separately. So we sit around while each dish cools and then freezes, waiting for the next piece of the puzzle to appear. The server forgot to order the rice and both our main dishes are ice cold by the time we re-remind her and the steaming hot rice finally appears.

It was a shame really, the shoddy service, because the food is fresh and delicately flavoured (each ingredient really does bursts forth on the palate separately – this shocked me as I have become used to things melding as Indian food does into one giant burst of flavour) and without any pretension (as most highly priced restaurants are want to be). I’m a huge fan of Japanese food anyway (a taste acquired at Delhi's Tamura many years ago and honed by my experiences with this cuisine in London's many wonderful Japanese places) and this rice is divine to say the least. I also like the idea of a not too exhaustive overbearing intimidating menu, and in this case the fusion and traditional sit together well, tempting and pushing the Indian taste buds well into territories not often explored. In short I would say the food in Ai is spectacular but its service, on this night, did it the biggest disservice possible. I wonder if I will be tempted back?

Spaghetti Kitchen: Select City Mall, Saket, New Delhi – 110017. Tel: 42658430
Ai: MGF metropolitan Mall, 2nd Floor, Saket, New Delhi – 110017. Tel: 40654567


  1. Did you try the Satvik restaurant which is also in Saket and I guess in Select city walk Mall.. they say that the food there is superb.. I am yet to discover that place...

    But your take on Japanese food makes me want to go there. Last time I had good Japanese food was in Petang - Malaysia..

  2. Soulmate: No I didn't have stomach space or time for it I'm afraid. My one concession to a veggie meal was definitely Rajdhani in Mumbai!