Tej Kohli’s dining boltholes

The founder and CEO of Kohli Ventures seals high-tech deals over grouse by the Thames and hot and sour soup in Hong Kong

Tej Kohli at The Waterside Inn
Tej Kohli at The Waterside Inn | Image: Rick Pushinsky

“I’m in the high-tech business and most of my clients are based abroad – the US and China mainly – so when they visit, I like to take them somewhere they’re not used to. It doesn’t get much better than The Waterside Inn: it has three Michelin stars – deservedly so – and in summer you can arrive by boat. We live 40 minutes away, by water, and when we come by boat the restaurant knows and they’re waiting for us. We sit outside, have a drink and then go inside for dinner. I order the grouse or pheasant; the veal is also excellent. For dessert we’re taken to these special gazebos – the soufflé is superb, as is the chocolate mousse. 

I was recently in negotiations with an e-sports company that was set up by two young kids I like to call Larry Page and Sergey Brin. We were in talks for months and when they came to London I invited them to my house, followed by a boat ride to The Waterside Inn and later to 5 Hertford Street. We finally signed the deal. Sometimes in business it’s important to show you can sell yourself by way of your lifestyle. Of course, that’s not the only reason deals are made, but it’s a good starting point.   

I’ll probably take them to celebrate at Annabel’s and I’m a member of several other London private members’ clubs, again because it’s something different for visitors – that exclusive British club scene. I like the menu at Annabel’s – it’s small and not so grand – but for entertaining I prefer 5 Hertford Street. It’s cosier and a bit livelier, plus they make great bull shots. For serious business, where you have to be able to talk, Mark’s Club is fantastic for lunch. The club knows all its members and you’re personally greeted. Whoever is with you is impressed. I invited the prime minister of Luxembourg when he was in London and have been a few times with Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao, a leading ophthalmologist who partners with my philanthropic foundation, which is helping to treat and prevent cornea blindness. The fish at Mark’s Club is outstanding and more often than not I order the Dover sole. 

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In China it’s very important that you socialise with your client first, getting to know one another, drinking and enjoying great meals together. You can’t meet a Chinese person and start discussing business right away. It’s just not done. In Hong Kong, the food at the China Tang Landmark is splendid. I love the hot and sour soup and anything stir-fried, such as Wagyu beef with goose liver. Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons is world-class and the Peking duck is among the best I’ve had. I like taking clients there – it helps people to understand your standard of operating and these things count in China where perceptions are important. 

In Europe I work with several banks in Vienna and like going to the DO & CO in Stephansplatz for the Wiener schnitzel. I also like Fabios – the location is great and all the action happens there. In Paris, a favourite is Chez l’Ami Louis, which is the antithesis of a place like Annabel’s or 5 Hertford Street. The ambience and decor are mundane and the seating is awkward to say the least. But it’s all about the service and food: I love the foie gras and roast chicken and the steaks are huge. When you’re there you understand why anyone who’s anyone goes – Bill Clinton and many heads of state have been. It may not be fancy-looking, but it does its job with confidence and style.”

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