Leo’s travel journal

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Zaika Indian Restaurant

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Background…
Zaika was opened by leading restaurateur Claudio Pulze and Raj Sharma in 1999.

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The name Zaika translates quite literally as sophisticated flavours and this is the ethos behind the innovative menu. With an emphasis on refined yet creative Indian cuisine, the menu incorporates both traditional classic favourites and original new dishes that apply eastern flavours with a western twist.

Acclaimed favourites include Indian Home Smoked Salmon, Lamb Rogan Josh and Chocolate Silk, a dish that has been greatly imitated by other establishments across the Capital.

The Restaurant…
Located at the heart of Kensington in a prominent position opposite Hyde Park, the grand building that Zaika occupies was formerly a bank and has retained many original architectural features including the carved high ceilings and double height windows. The sumptuous interior lends itself to the rich vibrancy of India during the colonial era incorporating a palette of rich colours; ruby, green gold, crimson and purple.

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The main restaurant seats 82 and is available for private entertaining by appointment whilst the Bedouin style cocktail bar can host private drinks parties for up to 25 guests.

Since opening its doors Zaika has received a string of industry accolades including Best Indian Restaurant in the London Restaurant Awards, Restaurant of the Year in the Restaurateurs Awards and to date is the only Indian restaurant to hold three prestigious AA rosettes (equivalent to 3 Michelin stars in France).

The Chef…
Sanjay Dwivedi, originally from Delhi, grew up in the middle of The Sun and Sea Hotel, a coastal hotel in South India, which was owned by his family. A young Sanjay was immediately thrust into the world of catering, of kitchens and of restaurants.

Sanjay’s influences came from some of London’s greatest kitchens; The Caprice, The Atlantic, The Ivy, The Lanesborough, Turners. By mixing his knowledge of spices and Indian cuisine, and yet still adhering to the strict training of the western kitchen, Dwivedi’s style started to form.

*1998 – Chef for The Rolling Stones ‘Bridges of Babylon’ world tour, 6-month consultancy at the Soneva Fusshi Indian Ocean resort in the Maldives.
*1999 – Sanjay was part of the opening team at Zaika, 6 months consulting for Tantra in Los Angeles, and 2 months at Tabla in New York.
*2004 – Opened Deya with owners Sir Michael Caine in a prestigious West End location.
*2005 – Returned to Zaika full time. At Zaika, Sanjay has managed to make the menu his own and the dishes offered truly represent his unique skills and experience, offering the diner an unforgettable gastronomic journey.

What I had…
Was with my boss, and a new found friend in London, Doris. Jugalbandi Menu (a 5-course tasting menu paired with wine – £ 58.00 per person) was the order of the day.

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My Thoughts…
Absolutely mind-blowing! I’ve never had Indian cuisine this way before… The natural flavours of the main ingredients shone through unlike the usual “spices prevails” fare. Seafood was as fresh as you could get them.

I was most impressed with the Murghabi Ka Milan (Duck seekh kebab, tamarind chutney, crispy duck salad with chat masala). Never have I encountered duck in Indian cuisine. Nevertheless it was a wonderful first time expose.

I highly recommend the Apple Julep (Apple Schnapps, Goldschlager, Mint, Lime, Apple & Ginger Ale with crushed ice – £ 8.50 per serving). It is highly refreshing on a hot day (although it was -3 degrees outside).

Service was impeccable, waiters were attentive but not imposing or condescending. Excellent product knowledge. Overall dining experience was truly sublime.

Will definitely go back there again on my next trip in November.

Contact & Opening Hours…
No1 Kensington High Street
London W8 5SF
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7795 6533
Fax: +44 (0) 207 937 8854
Web: http://www.zaika-restaurant.co.uk

Lunch:
Sun – Fri: 12.00 – 2.45 pm
Sat – Closed
Dinner:
Mon – Sat: 6.00 pm – 10.45 pm
Sun: 6.00 pm – 9.45 pm

*Some photos and restaurant write-up courtesy of Zaika Indian Restaurant

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Written by Leo

21 March 2006 at 22:36

Posted in Food, Travel

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One Response

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  1. So… When are you taking me there? 😉

    tokoharu

    23 March 2006 at 0:34


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