Lakshman Sagar: A Kaleidoscopic Escape

As reviewed for The Hotel Guru:

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Inspired by the kaleidoscopic colours of Indian this 19th century former hunting lodge is not your average rural Rajasthani stay. Twelve cottages (each with their own private plunge pool) are dotted around a 32 acres and a man made reservoir. The sound of peacocks resonates throughout the grounds from sunrise til sunset, interrupted only by the chattering of a lively flock of parakeets. A totally unspoilt, rural idyll, staying true to Sewara hospitality’s mantra Lakshman Sagar is as gentle to the environment as it is on the eye. And what a visual feast it is! Decorated in pop palettes rooms are a riot in greens, pinks, yellows and oranges; juxtaposed against natural dried mud walls. Repurposed furnishings such as a traditional coal iron for a soap dish and baby’s crib for a wash basket add a novel touch. Though the pièce de résistance has got to be the zenana, formerly the women’s quarters. Decorated in pink and purple shades, mosaic floors and trickling fountains. The rooftop affords 360 views of the property and the best seat in the house.

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There is an Ayurvedic spa-cum-tree house run by Amul, possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbology. He even takes yoga classes. Or simply spend an afternoon recumbent by that pool. Carved into the landscape, out of a giant rock, it has been named one of Conde Nast Traveller’s favourite pools in India.

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Inspired by the ‘Slow Food Movement’ all cuisine is either grown in the property’s expansive vegetable garden or locally sourced. Serving fresh, traditional Rajasthani dishes these simple meals are a blessing – compared to the heavy, oil laden affair on offer in most hotels. That said, flavours can get a little repetitive, but staff do their best to meet requests. A totally enchanting stay.

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Great for: Couples will love the private cottages and plunge pools with a view. Ideal for a few nights of rural idyll between the bustling cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur.

Best time to go: October – March. Expect a chill in the evening between December and January.

For direct bookings click here.

Top 10, Delhi: A Sushi Addicts Guide

Top 10, Delhi: A Sushi Addicts Guide

The original of the article published on Delhi’s own Little Black Book:

When moving to a foreign country you learn a lot about yourself and your vices. I always thought of myself as a down and out cheese fiend. Having been known to forgo the crackers and accompaniments in favour of a more direct ‘block in mouth’ approach. It seemed there were no limits to my in fridge fromage foraging; but no…

 Hi, my name is Megan and I am a sushi addict.

Common sense tells me not to eat sushi in Delhi. At home I wash my vegetables more thoroughly than I do myself, but sure I’ll eat raw fish in the city that has a stomach ailment named after it.

As all those suffering from an addiction will be familiar with, at some stage you hit rock bottom. I have tried Paneer California Roll so you don’t have to.

This my fellow sushi lovers, is my definitive Sushi Addicts Guide to Delhi:

1. Guppy by Ai – Lodhi Colony

I love the décor here, you feel as though you’ve wandered onto the pages of an anime cartoonist’s sketchpad. Unlike almost every other accompaniment, I often find the wasabi in India to be lacking in spice – not a problem here. Their tuna is sourced from the Andaman’s and there is an emphasis on seasonal produce, so it’s brownie points (although sadly no actual brownies on the menu) all round.

Good for: Friends and family

2.Town Hall – Khan Market

The one I keep going back to. With its split-level Mediterranean style roof terrace and laid-back house playlist it is more Ibiza vibe than central Delhi. The wide range of antipasto sharing platters and salads (the fig, rocket and gorgonzola salad is divine) means that even if you’re not a sushi lover, if such a person exists, it’s still a great place to eat. The Augusto platter, a must try, is for four to five people but if you’re as much of a maverick as I am you’ll say “To Hell!” with menu mandate and order regardless. I’ll get the rest packed, thanks.

Good for: Friends, Family, Date Night

3. Sushiya – Select CityWalk Mall, Saket

Well priced sushi, delivered to your door. Need I say more? This is one of those joints where the wasabi does not pack the punch it should, shovel that stuff into your soy to avoid a bland nigiri. The California rolls however really hit the spot. Avoid the kimchi at all costs.

Good for: Healthy home dining or lunch on the go

9. TKS – The Hyatt

Primarily a teppenyaki restaurant their sushi is so good you’ve got to order a few plates. I was sold when I saw one of my favourite South African wines from the “Fairview” vineyards (at about ten times the price) on the menu. Crispy tempura asparagus, perfectly cooked scallops and sushi plates so aesthetically pleasing you don’t want to ruin them. The puddings however are not worth bothering with and the sashimi portions are Michelin sized.

Good for: Family

4. The Yum Yum Tree – New Friends Colony

These guys pride themselves on being the only restaurant in Delhi with a sushi conveyor belt. Located in an area of New Friends Colony that’s seen better days this place is cheap and cheerful. Cheap: I’m talking Tuesday and Sunday “All You Can Eat and Drink” Sushi and Dim Sum for 1500 INR. Cheerful: Those “Magic Moments” Mojitos are industrial strength, so you’ll be laughing your way through dinner; if you can remember it at all. This isn’t the place to start getting adventurous stick the salmon and tuna rolls. Their dim sum is incredible, we had pork, duck and vegetable and lost count of how many portions we ordered.

Good for: Dinner with friends5. Benihana – Epicuria, Nehru Place

6. To quote Mr Hiroaki Aoki, Benihana’s founder: “it’s not just a meal, it’s an experience”. Their sushi platters are excellent and you must order at least one, but the real ‘experience’ is in the hibachi dishes. When possible I’m all about locally sourced and the hibachi basa was by far my favourite. This joint is a time old, well-oiled Teppenyaki machine with chefs that know how to wield a deba bocho knife. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and other than its less than atmospheric setting in Epicuria, there’s not much to complain about here.

Good For: Friends, Date Night

6. Megu – The Leela

This American import has been making waves since the day it landed on Indian shores. The décor is opulent to say the least (there’s giant glass Buddha, lording over the place like some translucent monarch) and the plates are themselves miniature treasure troves. The Salmon Tartar with Osetra Caviar is in my opinion the only way to start your meal, washed down with a hot glass of sake. Meat eaters will be pleased to see Kobe beef on the menu.

Good for: Date night, Special Occasion

7. Sushi Haus, DLF Phase 1

An exciting new contender on the sushi scene Asian Haus have extended their culinary horizons. A small but perfectly formed menu, personal preferences would dictate that the one thing missing is an edamame bean portion, however they do a yummy Edamame California Roll. The signature Haus Roll is spot on, as is the Crunchy Spicy Tuna. There are also plenty of great vegetarian options such as the Asparagus Tempura roll and the Avocado Maki which is delicious. These guys have really stepped up the game when it comes to home delivery. Sushiya – watch out.

Good for: Healthy home dining or lunch on the go

8. Sakura – Time Tower Building, Main MG Road

A hidden gem, popular amongst Gurgaon fat cats for long, ‘wine and dine’ lunches; go in the evening and you’ll have the place to yourself. Generous sashimi portions, mouth-watering barbequed eel and wasabi ice cream so tasty I double scooped. If you’re a die-hard sushi lover then this place is worth the trip.

Good for: Power lunches, extreme sushi lovers

10. Wasabi by Morimoto – The Taj Mahal Hotel

I saved the best until last and this one is if not my favourite restaurant, then certainly my favourite sushi restaurant in Delhi. A Times Food Award Winner, Wasabi is known for its pioneering chef Masaharu Morimoto. They have proper black cod, which I defy you to fine anywhere else in this city and bountiful sushi and sashimi platters. If you can’t find your tipple on the extensive wine list then ask their mixologist to create you something special. The service, as you would expect with such a price tag, is excellent.

Good for: Special Occasion