Superb Northwest Indian Cuisine
Located at the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi, Bukhara serves dishes from the north-western region of India. This type of cuisine is typically in the form of very richly flavoured kebabs served without rice, which is unusual for Indian cuisine. The restaurant has received many notable mentions and became famous when it was visited by Bill Clinton, and for this reason some say it is somewhat over-hyped. However, if you brought your expectations down to a reasonable level, you would enjoy a very savoury meal, possibly one of the most delicious in New Delhi. It was for me.
A Famous Favorite of the Famous
Darn near any tour book about India will mention the Bukhara restaurant in New Delhi. It is, quite simply, one of the more renowned eateries in all of Asia. Conde Naste Magazine has it on the "best 50" list for the continent, or so I believe. Bukhara is a place that almost all famous and powerful people eventually visit on trips to New Delhi. Former US President Bill Clinton, a man who - in spite of his many failings as a person and politician, and his complete bewilderment at what is and what is not actually the truth - SURELY knows good food, once said after eating at Bukhara in 1998 (I think), "I only wish I had another stomach so that I could eat more". And, I have to agree with Bill, it WAS very very good.
Speaking of famous people, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was eating (in an upstairs private dining area) at Bukhara the night we visited. We sent an invitation to join us, but she wasn't able to tear herself away from her diplomatic pals.
Now, you'd assume that such a famous place would be tres expensive, and by Indian standards, it is. But by US or European top-scale pricing guidelines, Bukhara is reasonable, very reasonable. I'd estimate that the average adult visiting Bukhara who enjoys an appetizer, a main dish, a dessert and perhaps some bottled water and a glass of beer or two will get out for US$30-40 each. One way to drive the price much higher will be to order hard liquors (all imported) or wines (again, imported). Imported booze is expensive in India, and especially so at Bukhara. But local Indian beers are cold, tasty and very cheap.
The food is very well done, most of it is of the Northwestern Frontier or Moghul style of cooking. (the area between Delhi and the Pakistan/Afghanistan borders) These are meatier dishes (than more typically veggie Indian cooking) with heavier sauces, many of them based on the hot oven tandoori style of cooking. And if you are or are with a vegetarian, freak ye not... Bukhara has a few veggie entrees. In general, they'll include grilled vegetables, grilled fruits such as pineapple or perhaps the Indian specialty paneer - a grilled soft cottage cheese dish. (tastes better than it sounds, trust me) Most of the meats have already been roasted in the tandoori, and are awaiting a finishing with spices and sauce on a kebab/spit over an open flame. They'll be served hot and still sizzling, sans skewer, on your plate.
Another Bukhara specialty - in fact, the waiter called it their signature dish - is the dal. Dal is essentially a tasty lentils dish. Bukhara's lentils are slowly simmered (in a giant witches' brew type of pot, you'll see it behind the glass over in the cooking area) with tomatoes, ginger and garlic.
Oh, one other very interesting thing.... they don't give you eating utensils at Bukhara. Yep, you eat with your hands, just like "the Flintstones". It's all very entertaining and cool, you'll have a blast. And yes, the food is very very good.
ONE IMPORTANT NOTE... advance reservations are a must. Well, we all chose an appetizer and then we shared a total of three appetizer dishes. (Two were chicken dishes and one featured a nice, spicy leg of lamb issue) We added some rice on the side, and also some of Bukhara's signature dal. We also ordered two kinds of naan bread, plain and butter (ghee) laced. We generally used the naan to "mop" up the tasty dal... that's kind of how you manage to eat dal without utensils. :) Sara had a cold drink, which is what the Indians call cokes, pepsi or fanta type beverages. Bonnie and I enjoyed a terrific Indian beer.
For dessert, we had hot coffee, and that wonderful Indian treat kulfi. Kulfi is basically an ice cream style food, delicately spiced with milk sugar and cardamom, and a couple of other spices. Very very good. Pleasingly and perfectly subtle in its texture and taste. OK I admit it, I love kulfi.
Bukhara is a splurge compared to most places you'd eat in India, price-wise. Go ahead and treat yourself when in Delhi. You'll be glad you did. And, who knows, you may run into a world leader, or a rock star, or some other famous Bill Gates-type person.
Not a 5 star hotel
The room rate was nearly $500/night and, in my opinion, quite overpriced. I have stayed in hotels in Europe, the U.S., and other parts of Asia at that same room rate where the hotels were much more luxurious. My room was a standard room that had the look and finish of a standard room at a regular Double Tree Hotel. This hotel is not at all like other hotels in its price range, like the Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental. I would skip this one and stay at the Oberoi instead.
Acceptable, but not overwhelmingly impressive
Previous reviewers have emphasized that the hotel seems to be overpriced, and with that I am in agreement. While you might expect the hotel to be more impressive, it is simply average by Western standards. However, having emphasized its mediocrity based on western standards, I am told by many that it is one of the best hotels in the city. Moreover, despite the prices, I had no complaints with the hotel.
The room was clean with a very comfortable bed, service was acceptable, and breakfast buffet was serviceable. It is a short (20 minute) drive to the airport for approximately $20/hotel sedan and located in the diplomatic center of the city (i.e., near the foreign embassies). If traveling for Delhi for business you can do a lot worse.
Great room, great service.
We stayed here for a conference in Delhi and LOVED it. Our room was called a Garden View Deluxe suite and was actually the size of two hotel rooms (it seemed that on our floor, there were more of these "double" rooms than the regular rooms." The hotel was clean, luxurious, and hospitable. Rooms were modern (flat screen Plasma TVs), luxurious bedding, fantastic air conditioning, and were free from any odors even though smoking is common in hotel rooms in India. It is not perhaps five star by U.S. standards - but quite close. Some of our colleagues at the conference stayed at the Taj Palace and the Taj Mahal Mansingh. All agreed that the Sheraton actually had by far the nicest accommodations. Service was outstanding at all three hotels. If I had one complaint, it would be that the walls were a little thin. We could hear our neighbors a little and doors closing in the hallway woke us up a couple of times. However, it wasn't bad enough to really bother us at all. I would highly recommend this hotel.
Very nice (business) hotel
Spend 2 nights in The Maurya in November.
From outside the hotel does not look attractive.... but once you enter the lobby you realize this might be a very nice hotel...
The lobby is very nice.
Executive rooms were very nice (not very big though). Very well equipped and very clean.
Staff was very friendly and helpfull.
Main restaurant is very nice place to have lunch or dinner.
Even the bar/pub is nice and happened to be a very popular place for the local youngsters.
A nice business hotel !
We had a great experience here. Wonderful, updated room with a great bathroom. This was definitely one of the best rooms we had in India. The buffet is also very good.