Meet India’s king of pan-Asian cuisine
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.