Delhi's upscale foodie magnet MKT gets menu makeover after 6 years

The Chanakya in Delhi's Diplomatic Enclave has transformed into an upscale mall headlined by a parade of luxury brands.
The Chanakya in Delhi's Diplomatic Enclave has transformed into an upscale mall headlined by a parade of luxury brands.

After it arose from a late lamented cinema that used to screen the newest Hollywood releases at a time when they would land in the country after much of the world had seen them, The Chanakya in Delhi’s Diplomatic Enclave has transformed into an upscale mall headlined by a parade of luxury brands.

In this gentrified location, flanked, ironically, by a popular destination for momos of all kinds, MKT has become one of the city’s busiest restaurants, even as its neighbour, Foodhall, the go-to place for people looking for artisanal food ingredients and products, shut down and made way for another popular gourmet food store, Le Marche.

MKT is back in the news because its new head chef, Rinki Saha, an alumna of the Wendell College, Chicago, and formerly with Bastian, Mumbai, has tweaked the restaurant’s already food-forward menu for the better. And the menu change is the first in six years.

The vibe, too, has changed because of the jaunty music of the 1980s and 90s that the DJ plays with cheerful abandon, making a generation that grew up listening to Boney M and BeeGees feel very nostalgic, and chuckle at the senseless lyrics of ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’.

What MKT’s new menu does is that it builds upon its strengths rather than just tinker around with the original favourites. The maki rolls are still there for sushi lovers, and so are the dim sum, including the long bao (or soup dumplings), but what has been added are dumplings encased in taro dough, my favourites being the ones stuffed with prawns marinated in chilli bean sauce. And the portable robata grills on which the yakitori (chicken and leeks) arrives adds a touch of drama and a whiff of charcoal smoke to your dinner.

The small plates on offer offer quite an international variety, from labneh, baked burrata and asparagus tartare to salmon carpaccio dipped in a pool of the sweet, sour and tangy Nahm Jim dressing, jicama (also known as the Mexican turnip), Japanese seasoned rice pearls known as bubu arare, cucumber, red jalapeno, herb oil and cilantro.

The Indian small plates are ambitious in their scope, from the memorable guchchi galouti kebabs sandwiched between savoury biscuits, served with mascarpone sauce, to the lip-smackingly good Black Pepper Masala Crab, cheese gratinated in shell — it’s also a soul-satisfying alternative way of having crab if you find handling them a bit too messy.

After you have negotiated the small plates — you could either order only them, or stick to the main course items, for the menu offers you incredible variety — you have an array of options to dig. These include my favourites — Quattro Formaggio Tortellini, the four cheeses being ricotta, Parmesan, goat cheese and hazelnut mascarpone, drizzled with dill lemon brown butter, and Prawn Gigli quilted in saffron garlic cream.

Then come the burgers, pizzas and all-time favourites — mine being the evergreen Chicken A La King — followed by the mains, from eggplant parmigiana (the vegetarians don’t have many options) to the pricey but incredibly tasty Grilled Australian Mulwarra Lamb Chops and Miso-Glazed Sea Bass.

The stir-fries and curries sections offers a decent selection of hardy perennials, Kung Pao Chicken to Singaporean Chilli Prawns with Mantou Buns, but the Indian mains are likely to disappoint you because of their boring predictability, from Narangi Kofta to Champaran Gosht. The small plates are definitely more exciting.

If the mains leave you asking for more, the desserts certainly won’t, especially if you order a Loaded Chocolate Treat, which packs in flavourless brownies, whipped chocolate ganache and chocolate ice-cream drizzled with raspberry coulis. It is not something you can have by yourself, so share it with those for whom you care, and spread the joy!

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