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Critic's Review

Updated about 6hrs ago

  • Food
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

Recapturing the Punjabi soul, one kukkad at a time

A well-appointed dining area and an informal bar upstairs.

Atmospherics

On the first floor of the building that housed the old Shalom is a very well-appointed space that has all the hallmarks of a genteel dining area. It sits at odds with the image of the bucolic dishes on the menu though the seating is comfortable. The bar is operational throughout the day, while the restaurant closes between 3 pm and 7:30 pm. The snack menu of the bar and the restaurant menu are available through the day at the bar. The food may be home-style, it may be dhaba-style, it is often plain old-fashioned but it never veers from being quintessentially Punjabi.

Table Talk

Leg te peg (Rs 525) is a witty take on our twin obsession and actually combines marinated chicken legs cooked in the tandoor and then flambéed (clumsily, let it be said) at your table with rum. Though the flame barely burns for a few seconds, the rum remains a lingering after-taste with no hint of bitterness. Saboota talwar murgh is the showpiece dish of the restaurant. A whole jointed chicken is skewered onto a sword and brought to your table a la Brazilian churrascaria. Succulent and redolent of pounded mustard seeds, it is a must-have. Butter chicken (Rs 525) unfortunately is rather lacklustre. The tomato seems to have come from a tin and the creamy quotient was conspicuous by its absence. Chicken laung latta (Rs 525) is possibly the finest dish, being unusual and having a rustic charm, full of the aroma of dhungar. Similarly, palak nalli meat (Rs 545) was slow-cooked and the spinach leaves were left whole to give it a home-style appeal. Amritsari chole (Rs 395), I was happy to note, was great, with a hint of pomegranate seeds in the background.

Plus and minus

The chicken haye tauba is a must-have if you like your food very spicy. The best part is that the flavour of the chillies shines through all the pungency. The dal meat, delicious as it undoubtedly is, doesn’t showcase the dal which recedes into the gravy.

Must try

Keema Pepper Poppers, Meat Wale Chawal, Chur Chur Naan

Updated about 6hrs ago

  • Food
  • 60% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 60% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

It completes the bouquet of restaurants and cuisines in GK’s N Block Market.

Atmospherics

This is where Dao and its cousin downstairs, Dimcha, win. Chic and sophisticated with an overtly Thai sensibility, the restaurant is crowded every day of the week, and one gets the impression that the interiors play a large part. At night, cut-outs on the wall are back-lit, giving the compact restaurant a smart look that combines Thai craft with contemporaneity. The service still has to settle in: the staff is affably clueless about how to suggest dishes. At the most you will be told that a particular dish “moves very fast”! Portions are generous and at least at present, Dao is not an expensive proposition. Downstairs, Dimcha has very limited seating and is a dimsum and tea place (whose dimsums bear a suspicious resemblance to those at Yauatcha!) You can ask for dimsums to be served to you in Dao, but the food of Dao is not available in Dimcha.

Table Talk

In one word, the food is Indianized. That too, rather more than is necessary. Perhaps to take cognizance of the tastes of the neighbourhood residents, no fish sauce is used, pea aubergines are sadly overcooked, the curries are served with lashings of gravy and all the starters are either spicy or deep-fried or both. The kai kraphaw (Rs 475) had been so changed from the original version that I found it unrecognizable. Minced chicken, in the hands of a Thai chef, would be lightly tossed with seasonings, so that the colour of the chicken remains light. In Dao, it is a fried dish of chicken juliennes. The dish was tasty enough and well worth the money, but light-years from the original. Penang curry (Rs 425-675 for vegetables/fish/chicken/lamb/prawns) was one of the better offerings, in spite of the too-soft pea aubergines, a complete meal for two, with a portion of jasmine rice or sticky rice (Rs 275). Stir-fried eggplant (Rs 375) was one of the highlights of the meal. Kaeng hunglay moo (Rs 1395) was a pork curry in the northern Thai style: unusual and well-executed. In general, Dao’s best dishes are its curries and stir-fries rather than its salads and appetizers.

Plus and minus

The interiors and the exquisitely well-crafted menu make it seem like a restaurant with a Thai chef in the kitchen. Alas.

Must try

Steamed Red Snapper in Ginger Sauce, Massaman Curry, Tofu in Sweet Chilli Garlic Sauce

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