FACT Review: INJA brings Dubai pomp and flair to New Delhi

What happens when a Dubai-based restaurant group debuts in India?

Delhi, the Indian capital, offers a dreamy nostalgia warmed vividly back to life. The architecture, the bustle, the smell of sizzling fried things, lime zest and nose-tickling spices. Our car weaves between lanes with the air conditioning at full pelt; the braying of horns re-confirms that one drives in Delhi by sonar. We turn into The Manor Hotel in New Friends Colony, a 1950s property restored before the world locked down for a few years. 

History unfolds within these Manor walls; a hallowed space that has launched culinary greats Indian Accent, The Manor Hotel’s former destination restaurant, and Himanshu Saini, one of Dubai’s (and the world’s) best chefs. Now, INJA occupies this space and writes its own chapter. 


But why am I in India? You see, my grazing years in Dubai have witnessed the dining scene come full circle. At first, Dubai almost exclusively imported big names and big brands. Hotels crossed their fingers because, inshallah, “if you build it, they will come”. Later, local homegrown concepts took root, earning strong followings and garnering awards and acclaim. Dubai dining now vaults itself into that higher tier: an exporter of talent and dining concepts. 

Atelier House Hospitality, the Dubai-based restaurant group that brought us 11 Woodfire, Marea, Mohalla, and RSVP, have now launched INJA. Executive Chef Adwait Anantwar, the man behind d3’s Mohalla, helms the launch of INJA in Delhi; his third launch in a third country. He also shepherded Mohalla’s expansion to Riyadh (with a second Mohalla Riyadh opening shortly).


INJA (a play on India and Japan) folds together Indian and Japanese sensibilities drawing inspiration from each other without forcing the ridiculous or contrived. No butter chicken sandos, no crispy chaat gyozas. Imagine. It could have been a disaster. Mercifully, it is not. INJA’s menu glimmers bright with Adwait’s imagination.

The restaurant looks equally appealing. INJA’s design-led dining room soothes with cooling teals, blues and accent wallpapered walls sketching Japanese temples and countryside scenes. We slump into sage banquet sofas and mid-century modern chairs, all within eyesight of a private dining room adorned with chandeliers and doors festooned with pebble-sized brass bells. It’s a comfortable space that feels special but not alienating. A space to sink signature cocktails and rounds of chaat courses which – spoiler alert – we did. 


INJA’s dining experience walks that line of impressing without straying into formal. It is high-end, but recognisable. A sociable space where conviviality reigns for discerning Delihites. People who want to eat well without worrying about talking too loud. People drawn into sharing the raj kachori pumped with Alaskan king crab (INR 4850).

INJA’s finest moments weave technique with texture and flavour. A trembling savoury egg chawanmushi compliments a judiciously-cooked, poached lobster amped with a rasam masala (INR 3180). It’s clever cooking. Comfort food, but finely engineered. A semi-set bael tart oozes custard under the slightest press of a spoon with a crumbly biscuit base, sansho pepper and a lasting aromatic dusting of basil (INR 1100). 


Simpler dishes delight in equal measure. Skewered Koji chicken wings are lacquered with tamarind and jaggery teriyaki before a dusting of smoked Kashmiri chilli (INR 850). I find myself pinching other diners’ portions while they’re not looking. Tell their lawyers: finders keepers, losers weepers. A hedge of baby spinach, crispy sweet potato and paneer tempura draws the table into an approving silence (INR 1200). 

The evening ends with more investigative work at the bar, solely out of journalistic integrity.

Who should visit INJA? Delhities looking for a spin on familiar dishes, good time seekers, and Dubai visitors looking to support expanding concepts.

GO: Follow @injarestaurant on Instagram for more information.

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Liam Collens
Liam Collens is a reviewer and drone photographer based in Dubai. He is passionate about good food, restaurants, travel and drone photography.

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