The chattering classes of Delhi are talking about Circa 1193, a restaurant in the shade of the Qutub Minar. It is an unusual venture for several reasons. The first is the location: from the terrace on the second floor you can see no fewer than 26 heritage buildings and structures. The second is that it’s the brainchild of four partners. Varun and Wasiqa moved from New York with a view to join the hospitality sector. Vidur left his family business of copper mining in Africa and Nikhil switched from garment export to the restaurant. Chef Achal Aggarwal is the only one of the lot who was already in the same field: he worked in the Delhi branch of Wasabi and had a very good idea of what he was going to do in Circa 1193.
There are few chef-driven restaurants in Delhi, thanks to the economics involved. It’s usual for chefs to work for owners, who, more often than not are not from a food and beverage background, so all sorts of compromises are the order of the day. That’s where Circa scores: the sheer brilliance of Chef Achal, who is no less talented than his erstwhile mentor, Morimoto himself and the four young, enthusiastic partners make an inspired partnership in the shadow of the Qutub.
There’s a periodic chef’s table, a Sunday brunch with a changing menu and a regular menu that can only be described as one of a kind. Basically a fusion between all the countries of South East Asia, there are Japanese ingredients fused with Thai herbs, Italian gnocchi with Malaysian accents and other brilliant touches. You could find Duck Three Ways with Chocolate Jus on one visit and find it supplanted by something even more unusual next time around. Expect great things from the fabulous four and their wonder chef.