The more things change, the more they remain the same. After almost every major cuisine in the world has come to our city, the one that really rakes in the crowds is good old North Indian and that too, with not a particle to distinguish it from hundreds of clones. Code, which stands for Cuisine of Old Delhi is a good example. It doesn’t even try to make a difference: not in the rather florid interiors, not in the TV screen that is way too loud, not in the menu that could well have been photocopied from any other place in the city. Yet, it rakes in the crowds all right.
I asked the server to tell me the specialities of the place. He rattled off a few names of the hottest selling dishes in all North Indian restaurants across the city. I had been recommended Code by a friend who lives close to it, but hadn’t asked her what to order, so I went with the server’s recommendations.
The meal was tasty without being memorable. And maybe when you have done a handful of dishes over and over and over again, you do acquire a measure of competence, so in a way there’s much to be said about the tried and tested. Service is unacceptably slow: waiting 20 minutes for a glass of water is par for the course. Don’t attempt conversation either: the TV will over-shout you hands down.
Still, the Chicken Pakora (Rs 200) were good: the chicken was succulent and the batter was tasty rather than crisp. The pieces were smaller than I would have liked, but perhaps that was their formula for controlling the quality of the chicken and the batter simultaneously. The Tangri Kebab (Rs 210) had the great advantage that it was not over spiced. The common mistake is to douse it with curd and besan and so many spices that the chicken recedes into the background and all you can taste are the spices.
Lahori Karahi Paneer (Rs 160) was the best dish of all. The tomato gravy was thick and tongue-tingling and the judicious addition of onions and capsicum gave it the kind of freshness that you usually associate with home cooking. The amount of paneer is minuscule indeed: in spite of being in East Delhi, this is one restaurant that is not a value for money proposition. My guess is that they’re trying to put off the sleazy crowd with their high prices because of their bar licence.
The dal makhni (Rs 150) mercifully did not try and be like its country cousin Dal Bukhara and for that I think it deserves brownie points. Good but not memorable – just like everything else.
S 20, Second floor, Star City Mall
Mayur Vihar Phase I
Tel: 22747442, 22747443
Open from 12 noon to 12 midnight
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Average cost of a meal for two: Rs 600