Presentation probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Indian food, but the good folks at Taksim Garden don’t believe in rules. Instead, they are experimenting, all day and all night, with higher quality ingredients and presentation.
If you’ve been to the Taksim on Jianshe Liu, you’ll already know the gist of how this place is run. The new version is located next to the Guangzhou Railway Station and the China Southern building.
Many rate an Indian restaurant on what comes out of the tandoor. Here, lamb chops (RMB98) emerge from the hot clay oven coated with a thick and tangy marinade, making you want to gnaw at the bone once the meat is gone.
Dal makhani (RMB68), an inky stew of spiced black lentils that have been coaxed into absorbing what feels like twice their own weight in imported clarified butter, is deeply, truly luxurious – words we are rarely tempted to use in the context of lentils.
As you flip through the lengthy, pictorial menu, turn to the curry section for some staples. Give the requisite butter chicken (RMB88) a shot. This yogurt-and-spice-marinated chicken is dressed in a velvety red bath comprising butter, onions, ginger and tomatoes and is scented with garam masala, cumin and turmeric, with a cinnamon tang. Sop it up with a side of garlic naan (RMB28/basket).
If you’re yearning to see a model pretend to eat kati rolls and Kingfisher beer at 6am, this is it, baby. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this place attracts quite a party following when the sun comes up.
Food aside, Taksim Garden is pretty earthy. The entrance is grim, but given the location, it’s to be expected. The owners have taken great pains to dress up the interior. Low, moody lighting, leather armchairs, over-the-top wallpaper and heavy curtains are split between three distinct sitting areas suited to different moods and purposes of visit.
There’s a fine dining section with maharaja-style tables and a more casual area for tipples and shisha. Or, if you’re craving some green, head out to the patio where you’ll find landscaped gardens that are surprisingly charming (even with the preposterous spotlights).
Did we mention Turkish? Perhaps not. This restaurant is the latest installment in the Taksim family of Turkish and Indian restaurants – both in China and overseas – and so serves up, by way of culinary default and its moniker’s birthplace, a full menu of Turkish delights. There are flatbreads, barbecued meats and plenty more Halal options.
Who’s going: early-morning party crowds, Moghul mania
Good for: 24-hour eats, parties in a park