The Big Brand Importer: Ka Hospitality
The opening of Hakksan in Mumbai was one of the city’s most talked about culinary landmarks of 2011. The Michelin-starred, London-based Chinese restaurant, after all, has been a fixture on the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list since 2004. Here, it fell upon Mumbai-based Ka Hospitality, Hakkasan’s parent company in India, to uphold the aesthetic and culinary standards set by the restaurant’s founder and prominent London restaurateur Alan Yau. To the delight of Hakkasan’s regular patrons, the 6,500 square feet Bandra restaurant with its stainless steel and dark wood furnishings, midnight blue lighting, and Oriental lattice screens, had the same dark and sexy aura as the London flagship.
Expectedly, Hakkasan has quickly become a regular haunt of Bollywood celebrities and socialites, who flock to the seductive Ling Ling Lounge made up of cozy dining nooks and a sleek blue-lit bar. The rest of us go for the food, drafted by head chef at Hakkasan London Tong Chee Hwee, who imported about 60 per cent of the menu from the flagship, introducing Indian diners to pi pa duck, roasted silver cod with champagne, and the exorbitantly-priced Peking duck with caviar. In bringing down Michelin-caliber food, however, the city also got Michelin-caliber pricing, earning Hakkasan the distinction of being the most expensive restaurant in the city outside of a five-star hotel.
Six months after the launch of Hakkasan, Ka Hospitality, which is run by businessman Kishor Bajaj (who owns the men’s tailoring label BadaSaab and the franchise for Italian clothing brand Brioni in India) opened Yauatcha, Yau’s celebrated London teahouse and dim sum restaurant. The opening of Yauatcha, in Bandra Kurla Complex, was an equally noteworthy culinary milestone as the Mumbai Yauatcha is only the second outpost of the restaurant in the world.
Next on Ka Hospitality’s agenda is opening seven outlets of both Hakkasan and Yauatcha across the country, something they hope to accomplish by 2015. Our Delhi brethren will be happy to hear that both restaurants are on their way to opening in the capital (Hakkasan within three to four months). In Mumbai, Ka is developing its home brand, a fine dining Mediterranean restaurant called Otto Infinito, which is slated to open before the year is out, and bringing down another “international Western food brand”, of which they will reveal little else. Let the guessing begin…now.
• The Green Grocer: Samar Gupta of Trikaya Agriculture
• The Fro-Yo Men: Robin Chatterjee and Viral Jhaveri of Yogurtbay
• The Ingredient Supplier: Anil Chandokh of Chenab Impex
• The Designer: Ayaz Basrai of The Busride
• The Restauranteurs: Jay Yousuf and Gauri Devidayal of The Table
• The Pastry Chef: Pooja Dhingra of Le15 Patisserie
• The Nightlife Impresarios: Keenan and Ryan Tham of Trilogy
• The Barflies: Sumit Gambhir, Abhishek Honawar and Pankil Shah of Woodside Inn
• The Entrepreneurs: Mangal Dalal, Nachiket Shetye and Azeem Zainulbhai of Restaurant Week