There’s been much hype about the following three restaurants, and for good reason! Carnatic Café and Gung have been favourites of quite a few Little Black Book writers; Carnatic offers a gluttonous break from the done-to-death Sagar and Naivedyam; and Gung, Green Park Market’s hidden gem, apparently is paradise for foodies looking to get a flavor of Korean cuisine in town. The new kid on the block, Joey Matthew’s Kerala Express, has seen more people admire the beautiful host than the food served- but hey, given her love for food, we reckon it’s only going to get better with time.

We asked our friends at Belly Centric {they should eat for a living, seriously} and LBBD’s in house foodies, who’ve been patrons of Carnatic Café and Gung respectively, for what makes these two joints as touted as they are. Belly Centric also takes on appams and stew at Kerala Express.

Dig in, Delhi!

CARNATIC CAFE | New Friends Colony

Tucked in a corner of New Friends Colony market is a small restaurant with a hand-drawn elephant logo and yellow walls full of photos from Karnataka. They serve the popular South Indian palette of dosas, idlis, vadas and mini meals in a proud Carnatic {as in “of Karnataka”} style. Whatever the history and recipe, the result — be it the gunpowder-laced Malleshwaram 18th Cross dosa, the piping hot rava idlis, the melt-in-your-mouth upma, the rich, undiluted chutneys or the customary tumbler of frothy filter coffee — is quite delicious. For long Delhi has waited for an affordable South Indian joint that gives you little to complain and so much to like. Carnatic Café finally fills the void. You can view a full review of the place here.

Where | Ground Floor, India Mall, Community Centre, New Friends Colony, New Delhi

Price {meal for two} | INR 400

KERALA EXPRESS | Nehru Place

Even with many outlets bearing a “Coming Soon” board, Epicuria {the newly opened food mall below the Nehru Place Metro Station} already promises to be a melting pot of cuisines from around the world, and is well poised to disrupt the food scene at this commercial hub of Delhi. Joey Matthew’s Kerala Express occupies one of the counters at the food court and is run by the very same person behind the cookery show, Love Bites with Joey. The menu, usually handwritten on a blackboard, is limited to a few popular dishes from Kerala such as appams, stew, malabar parottas, mutton chilly, thalis {Vegetarian/Meat/Fish}, dosas {prawns & keema} and a beverage or two. The owner is usually around assisting with orders, introducing the various chutneys and ensuring prompt service {which is quite welcome given how quickly Appams lose their steam}. There are few options in this city that’ll satiate your occasional stew and appam craving, and definitely none so well connected with the metro; Go ahead and give Kerala Express a try.

Where | Lower Ground Floor, Epicuria, Nehru Place, Delhi

Price {meal for two} | INR 600

GUNG | Green Parket Market

This Korean restaurant which has taken over the Delhi food scene {it’s fairly popular amongst expats, Korean mostly} transports you to a whole new world, where the food is lip-smacking good, and the servers are most hospitable. The menu is extensive and almost mind boggling for first timers, but it helps to have their manager guide you through it. Their Bulgogi, both beef and chicken, is our favourite. It’s served on a steam boat atop a gas burner- making communal eating that much more fun. Another winner is their steamed mutton ribs, but it isn’t for the faint hearted; the spice in this dish will leave your ears ringing and head spinning {even by desi standards}! Oh, and before you get started on your main meal, you will be served kimchi, egg pancakes, pickled vegetables and other Korean side dishes- all complimentary, and pretty filling. Gung is great for a quiet dinner or for those who are up for a party with a difference. Sip on some soju {Korean wine} and let the night lead.

{Note | If you’re in a group of four or more, try to get seating in one of their private rooms, where you have to leave your shoes at the door and eat your meal in true Korean style.}

Where | D 1B, Near Ashirwad Complex, Green Park, New Delhi

Price {meal for two} | INR 2500 {with alcohol}