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“B'lore's North Indian stalwart needs to keep up”
Review of Samarkand

Samarkand
Ranked #147 of 11,259 Restaurants in Bengaluru
Cuisines: Pakistani
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Late Night, Delivery, Reservations
Neighborhood: MG Road
Reviewed November 10, 2013

Upnworld.com decided to personally investigate the popularity of BJN group’s Samarkhand which has long been considered one of the best North Indian stand-alone restaurants in the city, and which has inspired the opening of numerous North Indian restaurants in Bangalore. We settled atop the finest stallions around, and since the streets in this town anyway resemble the dusty crumbling pathways of the North-West Frontier, we took a suitably redolent ride and reached a mofussil mall inside which the signage of Samarkand glowed in electric red.

Our meal was largely governed by the favourites cited by commentators all over the Internet, and especially from Zomato. Aatish-E-Aloo was instantly requested, but this hotly tipped contender of stuffed potato had the feature vegetable offered at a mediocre texture while the taste didn’t have us singing Ghazals in honour of this dish. Long sticks of fried besan kept on the table as a complimentary snack, may be sampled if you are starving and there is absolutely nothing else to eat for a long time – they were hard and tasteless. Chandni Kebab, which is repeatedly reported to be fabulously tender here, was alas not so – this cream-cooked chicken starter has sufficient portions and is good no doubt, but it is not the stuff of dreamy-eyed recommendations.

The Ambience 5.5/10 Inspite of striving for ethnic flourish, it lacks the “wow”factor – it comes off worse in the photographs, gains a better impression on seeing it directly, but still seems rather kitschy .While its flat stone floor is a sensible aesthetic choice, the gray tiles that cover the pillars and walls give a rather staid look. Low-set chairs covered in auburn and green cushions, set around a rosewood table , may be a legitimate attempt at creating an authentic setting, but it has dubious design value. Overall, the colour scheme definitely needs an overhaul.

Whilst you chomp through hearty fare that Samarkhand dishes up, the North-Western ethos in evoked in more ways than one. There is a large portrait of men on horseback with swords, in the thick of action –exhorting you to similarly throw aside pusillanimity and tear into your high-calorie food. Waiters in black ethnic garb with turbans give you the menu that is presented on custom-designed black-and-white newspaper.

Tandoori Pomfret came pre-seasoned with lime juice and though the oven-baked masala was in harmony with the flavor of the soft pomfret, freshness of the fish came into significant question. At Samarkhand’s price point, this is a costly error. Paneer Peshawari would have satisfied me were it to be served by an unassuming home-cook, but the creamy luscious softness expected of legendary paneer is not to be found here.

The widely praised Dal Afghani of Samarkhand had me wondering what the others found to be so nice about it, just like how I didn’t understand the fuss about the Daal Makhni in Tattv .Tangy notes again affected delivery of the creamy wallop I was expecting, unground lentils dotted the dish too much ,and none of the others at our table liked the dish either. Roti and Kulcha garnered no special distinction.

Dum Gosht Biryani in Samarkhand is a favourite of Top Chef Abhijit Saha, besides impressing many others in the city. A tasting of the rice grains alone will not dignify those high honours, but when you mix it with the sporadic thick clouds of masala from the same pot, and especially when you taste the succulent mutton with its smoothly gamey undertones (which do not undermine the meat’s taste), this Biryani’s excellent credentials are better appreciated. My uncle informed me that it had been a long while since he’d tasted mutton of this caliber in the city.

The Bakhlava was superb - a rich blast of ground and perfumed dry fruit, paired with refreshing litchi ice-cream (we selected the latter over vanilla, mango and chocolate) The Kulfi, billed as the “master-chef’s specialty”, had a khoya-like texture and improved only when consumed with cool cardamom sauce –the sweet noodles on the same plate were rancid.

Tariffs – Expensive overall - the mark-up is excessive for beer and atrocious for mineral water. 10% service charge is added to the VAT and service tax, thus generating 27% tax that is levied in addition to price points of Rs.300 for veg starters, Rs.400 for Chandni Kebab, Rs.425 for Mutton Biryani, and Rs.200 for desserts. A pint of beer costs Rs.250.

The restaurant placed mineral water on our table without my knowledge – I didn’t send it back then but now I know what to do the next time such trickery is slid in. Two bottles of mineral water were billed to be Rs.190, as we noted later.

The evening for us in Samarkhand was enhanced by the attentive service (7/10 ). We never got the impression that they were understaffed- similar to my positive experience in the same BJN group’s Khansama. Samarkhand enjoys a healthy volume of patronage and for the prices it charges, it has to pay more attention to detail, like making the potato softer in its much-vaunted Aatish-E-Aloo and making its filling tastier.If it cannot get fresh seafood (a constant shortcoming in Bangalore) then it should leave that section out of its menu completely. Unless such mistakes are rectified , it cannot hope to become truly special.

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1  Thank EarnesTaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 10, 2013

It's a great treat for ur taste buds, if you are an ardent non vegetarian. This is a place. Nice juicy tandoor kebabs, awesome bread. Price is bit on higher side. But worth once a while. Great ambience as well.

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Thank zubyn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 7, 2013

Nestled in a complex in Infantry Road, Samarkand is one of the popular and best in class Afghani cuisine restaurant in Karnataka. Drawing roots from traditional Afghani recipes, one will be impressed at the ambience and seating arrangement with waiters dressed in Afghani attire. As you settle down in your seat - typical Afghani low height wooden chairs (Taller folks might have a bit of struggle), you keep wondering when the waiter is going to show you the drinks or food menu. As you wait for the waiter, you are tempted to read the newspaper on the table and a first look surprises you as the neatly folded 4 sheet newspaper unfurls as the Menu Card - a refreshing surprise while the copper container holds the day's beverage selections.
Starting with Chicken tikka, peshawari veggie platters, Lamb tikka and fish selections as starters, the choices are plenty for both veg and non-veg. Food taste is at best very close to traditional and authentic Peshawari/Afghani cuisine. The Bread variety is plenty and goes well with any of the Veg or Non-Veg side dishes - Dal Makhani, Veg Peshawari, Paneer Butter masala and Adraki Gobi-alu top the Veg dishes while the Fish Salan, Lamb curry and salmon fish masala gravy stand out in the non-veg category. The open kitchen gives you a glimpse of the cleanliness of the preparation. Tandoor dishes are their speciality while the Biriyani's are welcome change to anyone to savour the best flavours of the special blend of spices with the long grain tasty basmati rice - cooked in perfect blend - be it the chicken or Dum Aloo or Lamb biriyani. There are plenty of home concoction of moctails for the tee-tottller while the desert selections range from mild to intense sweet dishes of traditional north indian sweets in pure ghee or the subtle blend of part-meditteranean deserts. On the whole it is must visit for anyone wanting to have authentic Afghani food and is very reasonably priced by Bangalore standards. Hip Hip hurray to Samarkand - the food taste still lingers in my mouth after even a month's gap.

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1  Thank RamsPR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 31, 2013

Any north indian food lover who has been living in Bangalore for few years would know of Samarkhand. It has been around for ages, and we've been going here for several years now. Although it had been quite a while since our last visit.
We went here recently for sunday lunch, and in case you didn't know it already - dont try going here without a reservation on weekends cos they get a lot of crowd.

The decore depicts afghani, north western cuisine. Huge boards of mughal warriors adorn the walls around you, and seating is also different, bit low in height.
The presentation of the menu card is very unique as the beverages menu is printed on a copper bottle, and the food menu is in the form of a newspaper with news stories intermitting the food listing.
The service is decent enough. Now coming to the main attraction - the mindblowing food

We usually always have the chandni kebab which is an amazing chicken starter, but this time we tried the baluchi boti kebab for a change. Our veg starter was the lachile subz kebab, which was minced vegetable tikki topped with fried thin vermicelli. Yes, it looked very different, but also tasted unique and was very tender.
The mutton too was soft and had lovely flavours from the marination.
The lassi is thick and heavy, so it cant be taken as a light beverage.

For the main event, we ordered a corn methi palak, a rather poor idea in my opinion as the dish needs to have something extraordinary with such simple ingredients, but it didn't. Plus it had a sweetness which was not interesting for a gravy.
The murgh peshawari though was a lovely dish, the gravy tasted really nice in itself and the chicken was perfectly cooked.
Apart from the rotis, we also had a naan baluchistan, which had lots of mutton stuffing and it was yummy. Went really well with our chicken gravy.
Unfortunately we were too full to try the desserts, but i'm sure they would also be equally good.
The pricing is on the higher side, but quality of food really justifies it.
Add to that the amazing consistency in quality, and i'd highly recommend Samarkhand for good afghani cuisine.

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1  Thank ravim84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2013

Brilliant food, great variety, not for the calorie consious. Would recommend nalli ka salan with khameri roti, any appetizers and ghosth biriyani

Thank Shuvajit_Basu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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