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Eating Out

Nikhil Khanna dines Tarun Tahiliani

Eating Out
Gireesh G.V
Eating Out
There’s no raconteur more vivid than Tarun Tahiliani. Voluble and vital, his conversation soars and swoops; a description of a swan-shaped paddle boat he just paddled upon before lunch. Gucci’s eroding profits, his advise to his sons to play cricket off the grass at the Jardin Tuilleries in Paris, the movement of architecture and how it affects the play of light at the Getty museum in Los Angeles, actress Rekha in Zubeida, looking, he says, “a stylish mix of a Rajwada and Suchitra Sen in Aandhi”. Like a Proustian passage, his words, both light and heavy, form a sparkling stream of consciousness. The guests at the next table haven’t stopped straining their ears to pick up smidgens of the conversation.

We are at Enoki, the deeply luxurious Yakitori restaurant at the spiffy, somewhat Dubai-esque Grand Hyatt in Delhi. From the outside, the hotel looks like a shining example of Soviet Bloc nouveau architecture. Inside, mummified palms, splendiferous fountains and acres of shiny materials make it de trop but nice. The clientele at Enoki has a high Toyota/Honda/ Nissan usage which ensures, therefore, that it is the real thing.

Tahiliani is on Day One of a dietician-approved menu, perfect reason to break it. We chug on beers and dig into delicious Tsukune (chicken ball), followed by the unfortunately-named but delicious nonetheless Shiitake mushrooms done in garlic, soya and sake. Wooden bowls in aubergine and rust colours hold steaming miso soup, a real nourisher, with chunks of tofu at the bottom. The waiters bring on dish after stunning dish—no one does nosh prettier than the Japanese, not even the French. Grilled Negima (chicken and leek) is followed by Kohisuji (marvellously chunky, juicy lamb chops).

Tahiliani, meanwhile, has just returned from an “interesting” exhibition trip organised in three American cities by the fragrant, media-shy Jacqueline Lundquist. He terms it a learning experience and leaves it at that. I later learn from others how the experience involved former US ambassador Dick Celeste sitting in a kitchen of the house of the New York exhibition, making invoices. No one knows if the transition from the High Table to the Low one is now complete. Tahiliani ducks questions on all that, and speaks instead of his upcoming trip to Paris. He’ll assist milliner Phillip Treacy at Treacy’s first ever show in Paris. Then he’ll come home and prepare for a huge fund-raiser under the Save the Children banner in London—all his international buddies will chip in. Meal over, espressos sipped, he wistfully speaks of his favourite Sindhi dishes; his eyes mist over at the thought of dhoda and saile and wet prawn biryani. He then tootles off to the ballroom to have a look at the venue for his next big show. All of which makes him a very busy bee indeed.

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