Bukhara Pops Up in London
Legendary Delhi restaurant Bukhara has opened a pop-up outpost in Knightsbridge for two weeks. You can't get in because it's already sold out, but we went to have a look around.
LONDON – Anyone who has been to Delhi will tell you about Bukhara. From high-profile visitors like Bill Clinton and Vladmir Putin to the locals who eat there regularly, no one finds fault with the award-winning Indian restaurant that has not changed its menu since opening in 1977.
Indian food in England, on the other hand, is a different story. Curry might be the nation's favorite dish (and, yes, it's true the government is planning to fund curry colleges), but (and I say this with authority because I am Indian) you will not find a vindaloo, bindaloo, or tindaloo on any menu in India.
Needless to say, I was very excited to hear that Bukhara was opening a pop-up restaurant at The Sheraton Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel, in London for two weeks — and even more excited to secure a spot at the inaugural meal because it's already sold out.
Chef Manjit Gill is in the kitchen with three authentic tandoor (clay) ovens and a small team from India until the end of May. On the set menu are his signature dishes, including sikandari raan, a melt-in-your-mouth whole leg of spring lamb that will tempt even the most devout vegetarians, and creamy chicken, jumbo prawns, and grilled Indian cottage cheese kebabs served with onions and freshly squeezed lemon. Food is served family-style, but everyone gets their own bowl of the famous black dhal — slow-cooked over coals with tomato, ginger, and garlic for 18 hours. Some things are just too good to share.
You are encouraged to eat with your hands — which is harder than it sounds. Sadly, you can't just shovel the food into your mouth like Homer Simpson. To observe good table manners, you should only use your right hand, and the food should never touch your palm. The trick is to wrap everything in small pieces of bread and try to turn each mouthful into a little ball. If all else fails, they will give you a knife and fork.
Most Londoners will agree that The Sheraton Park Tower hotel in Knightsbridge, a bizarre round concrete structure, is a hard building to love. But creative director (and Fathom contributor) Waris Aluwahlia managed to transform the space into an authentic Indian hideaway filled with rich fabrics, wooden and stone antiques, and a huge green elephant who greets you at the door. On the balcony overlooking Lowndes Square is a little secret garden: a linen canopied tent with low seating, colorful floor cushions, a full bar lit by antique metal lamps, and plenty of palm trees and foliage to make you forget where you are.
The Bukhara London pop-up is now sold out and the waiting list is closed. Then again, if you're looking for (another) excuse to visit Delhi, this could be it.
Bukhara is open for dinner from May 17-June 1, but it's sold out and the wait list is closed. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying online or at +44-208-045-0715
Sheraton Park Tower Hotel
London, SW1X 7RQ
Find more restaurants, sites, and things to do in our London Guide.