“Food and service really reflect a city’s culture and attitude, so I make sure to spend time getting to know a city through its restaurants. It’s important that I know the most happening places as well as the old favourites – it gives good insight into how a city works, how business is done and what people do and don’t value.
As a family we are based in Mumbai, and the quality of food here has really improved over the past decade; that said, Thai Pavilion, in the old part of the island city, has maintained its quality and service for over 20 years. It also has a cool vibe but it’s not too loud for conversation. I’m a vegetarian and I like its wide selection of dishes. There’s an exciting range of soups and my all-time favourite is the tom yum. For mains, I like the bean curd with black bean sauce. They have a dessert with chunks of chocolate, which is great fun. Thai Pavilion is where I completed a large and unforgettable transaction – for a penthouse and a few floors in a new development in the prime Mumbai area of Altamount Road. We’d been in talks for a long time and I remember finally closing the deal over a three-hour meal and nice conversation.
Mumbai hasn’t had good Lebanese for a while so I was thrilled when Bayroute recently opened – the owner sources ingredients from the Middle East. I always order the mezze starter and end with a nice Arabic coffee. It also has outdoor seating – since 80 to 90 per cent of our meals are indoors, I like taking business acquaintances for a meal outside.
For business relationships moving towards friendship, I invite clients to Kala Ghoda Café. It’s more informal and cosy, with a menu that mixes many cuisines including some Mumbai favourites. They also have superb chocolate desserts.
In London, Michelin-starred Kai Mayfair – right off Grosvenor Square, the site of one of our prime developments – is a great place to entertain. We recently hosted a big team dinner there. I always get hot and sour vegetable soup followed by the chai with different chillies. It also does a lovely ginger and sesame fried rice.
I love experimenting and recently went to a new Turkish restaurant, Rüya, also off Grosvenor Square. The place is huge with fabulous contemporary interiors featuring high-quality marble where the grain is all matched between the floors and walls. You feel as if you’re in a marble mine.
Dishoom is great for introducing someone to Indian cuisine and showing them that it’s not all about heavy food and stuffy environments. It’s informal with a very simple two-page menu – I like the black dal, roti and masala chai – plus it’s food from my hometown of Mumbai so it’s an easy conversation starter.
Indian Accent, in New York, is a molecular gastronomy Indian restaurant that, for me, is a close second to Bangkok’s Gaggan. The food is innovative and fresh. Last time I ordered the pav bhaji with vegetables and a yoghurt-based puri dish, both of which were prepared with flavours that really fired up the taste buds. Located off Central Park, it’s a great place for business; the energy of New York really has moved towards Midtown.
In Singapore, I go to Sabai, which has fantastic views over the water. The food is fabulous and I’m told they grind all the chillies themselves at 8am every day. I figure if someone is pounding spices every morning then they really love cooking and you can taste that. I like the Thai green curry but all the vegetarian dishes are good, and it’s just a five-minute walk from the business district. I believe meetings should be within 15 minutes of both parties – it’s very inconvenient to travel long distances for breakfast or lunch, and I try to keep evenings for family.”