Meet the new Indika. The modern Indian restaurant has undergone a number of changes over the past couple of months.
Originally, owner Mickey Kapoor decided to close the restaurant and rebrand it as Bukhara, a "meat lover's paradise" that would focus on dishes inspired by the legendary Silk Road. However, that plan ran afoul of city regulators, as the new business would have had to come up to current code with regards to parking and other issues. As Kapoor explains, "some things can't be grandfathered."
Instead, Kapoor is moving forward with his plan to make Indika a more casual restaurant. The decor has a more rustic look, courtesy of wood accents. Also, the tablecloths have been banished.
More importantly, prices are lower across the board. "Hopefully it will turn into a regular eating-out place rather than an elitist or occasional destination," Kapoor writes in an email.
As promised, the new menu features elements of Silk Road cuisine with more Persian and Central Asian flavors. Dishes include grilled lamb, three kinds of biryani (lamb, chicken, or vegetarian), kebabs, and tandoori meats, including an elegant roasted duck that's paired with tikka masala sauce.
In addition, Kapoor says he's added more classic Indian curries, korma dishes, and wok-sauteed meats and vegetables. Currently open for dinner (Tuesday through Sunday, 5-10 pm) and Sunday brunch (11 am to 3 pm), Kapoor intends to add a lunch buffet once the kitchen masters the new dishes.
On a creative level, it means the restaurant has taken a step back from the days when founding chef Anita Jaisinghani earned a James Beard semifinalist nomination, but the restaurant has the potential for a second life as an affordable, more casual establishment that delivers classic Indian flavors. Whether diners can accept this new version of Indika remains to be seen, but Kapoor's track record of success with restaurants such as Khyber and Aga's suggests he knows what Houstonians like to eat.