Meet India’s king of pan-Asian cui­sine

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WHEN Kylin cel­e­brated its 13th an­niver­sary some days back, the choice of the num­ber, which many con­sider un­lucky, and the fan­fare around it mir­rored the imp­ish hu­mour of the man be­hind the restau­rant. Sau­rabh Khanijo comes from an old Delhi fam­ily that made its money in the poul­try busi­ness, and he knows it bet­ter than most peo­ple in the city, yet he’s es­sen­tially a pas­sion-led restau­ra­teur who may not have the flam­boy­ance of a Priyank Sukhija or an Umang Te­wari, the new czars of the nightlife, but whose foot­print is ex­pand­ing steadily, mak­ing him the India’s mas­ter of Pan Asian cui­sine.

Khanijo be­longs to a gen­er­a­tion of restau­ra­teurs — no­table among whom are Rahul Ak­erkar, AD Singh, Ashish Ka­pur and Zo­rawar Kalra (who’s the youngest of the lot) — who breathe and eat food con­cepts. It is im­pos­si­ble to sit with him and not come back with dol­lops of in­for­ma­tion on ideas — from Bud­dha bowls to free-range chick­ens and ze­roan­tibi­otic eggs — that are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to the food world. He rarely hard­sells his restau­rants, which is why I never re­ally know the ex­act num­ber of out­lets he op­er­ates, but each new open­ing brings with it the whiff of a new idea.

When he shut down Thai House by

Kylin at N-Block, Greater Kailash-I, which got gob­s­macked by the Delhi Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion some time back not to is­sue fresh liquor li­cences to new restau­rants, it was a set­back for Khanijo be­cause of the re­search that had gone into it. He bounced back with The Kylin Ex­pe­ri­ence, a restau­rant and a clas­si­cal Shang­hai-style night­club, mak­ing meals in a bowl his sig­na­ture state­ment.

I love Kylin’s Edamame Dim Sum and Chicken Won Ton in Chilli Oil, but

Khanijo in­sisted that I have the Su­per Foods Bud­dha Bowl con­sist­ing of Quinoa topped with BBQ Tofu, Av­o­cado, Red Cab­bage, Corn and Baby Spinach dressed in gluten-free Drunken Sauce. I have never been a big pro­po­nent of health food, but I would be happy to go back for an­other bowl. I would ide­ally or­der a Tuk Tuk Bowl with prawn and cherry tomato curry and basil rice, or set­tle for a Geisha Bowl — panko-crusted fried pork cut­let on a bed of udon noo­dles. We need more Sau­rabh Khani­jos to turn around the coun­try's food scene for­ever.

Sau­rabh Khanijo eats and breathes food con­cepts

Sau­rabh Khanijo has made meals in a bowl the sig­na­ture of his new­est restau­rant, The Kylin Ex­pe­ri­ence, at Greater Kailash-I.

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