Indika may be closing at the end of June, but the space won’t stay empty for long. Veteran restaurateur Mickey Kapoor, who has been quietly operating the restaurant since January, will open a new restaurant called Bukhara in the building.
Kapoor has 40 years of experience opening restaurants in Houston. Even people who don’t know his name have dined at restaurants he founded, including India’s, Khyber North Indian Grill, and Aga’s (he still owns Khyber). However, taking over Indika and trying to run it in the spirit of founding chef Anita Jaisinghani, who sold it in 2017 to concentrate on Pondicheri, proved too difficult.
“The name was inextricably linked to a chef,” Kapoor tells CultureMap. “Anita is in a class by herself. You can’t just jump on someone else’s horse.”
Instead, he’s diving deep into India’s culinary history by celebrating Bukhara, a region of Uzbekistan along the fabled Silk Road that connected China to the Middle East. Kapoor credits the region with dishes traditionally associated with Indian cuisine such as tandoori chicken and paneer. As the name implies, the restaurant will focus on the region’s cuisine with an emphasis on chicken, lamb, and venison dishes.
“The restaurant is going to be a meat-lover’s paradise,” Kapoor says. “It’s not a very extensive menu, maybe 15 or 16 entrees, a few appetizers, a couple of good desserts. Mainly borrowing from Uzbek and northern Afghan foods. Trying to marry it with Indian food.”
To help develop the menu that will focus on kebab and rice pilafs (among other items), Kapoor recruited chef Suraj Kant from India to join Nepalese chef Dipak Aryal in the kitchen. Both chefs have extensive training in how to prepare dishes from Bukhara, which will lend an air of authenticity to the restaurant’s cuisine.
In addition to changing the name and menu, Kapoor will alter the restaurant’s appearance with new paint, artwork, and more. “It’s going to have a rustic look. It’s ok [now], but it’s a little too well-finished for a Bukhara,” he says.
Since only cosmetic changes are required, Kapoor doesn’t think the restaurant will be closed for long. If all goes according to plan, Houstonians will be dining at Bukhara by mid-July.