Slurrp Exclusive: With Tbsp. Tablespoon, Chef, Restaurateur Varun Tuli Celebrates Kitchen Like Never Before

Located in the DLF Commons, DLF Saket’s newly renovated food hub, Tbsp. Tablespoon is the latest offering by restaurateur Varun Tuli. Having won our hearts with restaurants and cloud kitchens like Yum Yum Cha and Noshi, Varun, pays a tribute to his time spent in the States, open kitchens and eating straight out of kitchen, as opposed to dining tables. As soon as you enter tbsp. Tablespoon, you see a giant, live kitchen busting with action, bright yellow walls decorated with kitchenware familiar and foreign, think pots, pans, spoons, jars, glasses, mittens, chopping boards... Another tasteful touch to the vibrant space was that of the tiny, customized containers of olive oil, chilli oil, salt, oregano and other spices and condiments neatly lined up on each table.  

Slurrp Reviews: Tbsp. Tablespoon

Here you can decide your own pizza toppings, the pasta, the sauce, the accompaniments almost as if you are part of the great kitchen drama and not another silent onlooker. We started off with the beverages, their in-house coffee soda and cherry soda that came in customized cans. Sweet, fizzy, chilled and perfect to kickstart our grub. Then we got the Avocado platter, a simple, wholesome breakfast dish with thinly cut slices of avocado, guacamole, pesto and olive sourdough. Post this we proceeded to the thick cut bacon, which was slowly smoked in a bbq, honey, mustard sauce. Bacon crisps are passe, if you relish red meat, then this steak-like experience is something you shouldn’t miss. We also loved BBQ prawns, the mammoth-sized barbecued prawns, with a hint of garlic, cheese, chilli and pepper. You can choose your accompaniments here, we went with truffled mashed potatoes. Next on our plate was the spicy chicken pizza, with toppings of Italian chicken sausages and fresh and dry chillies, a perfect blend of sauces and cheese, the sausages could have been a tad more flavourful. The highlight of the meal happened to be Chilli Garlic Mafaldine, a curly pasta that was made in a tomato-garlic based sauce, basil and parmesan, truly bringing the pasta alive.  We rounded up our meal with a comforting, lotus cookie trifle made with cooked dough, lotus cookie and chocolate. Ultra-soft and pillowy, the dessert makes room in your heart with the very first bite.

We also had a chat with Mr. Varun Tuli, the head chef of tbsp. Tablespoon, about his new venture, his kitchen escapades and fun memories with food. Tuli is one of the biggest names in the F&B industry of India, in addition to being the brains behind some of the legendary restaurant properties, Tuli identifies as a keen observer and a learner in the kitchen. Excerpts...

The F&B industry was just reviving and we are in curfew again, as a successful chef and restaurateur how are you keeping up with these trying times. How do you stay inspired?

At Tbsp. Tablespoon, our new kitchen-themed restaurant, the set-up has been done keeping Covid protocols in mind. Social distancing, PPE for waitstaff as well as kitchen staff, and regular sanitization is the non-negotiable mandate. All our staff is also double vaccinated. We are only one month into operation but business has been booming, despite the current circumstances and that keeps us motivated."

For Yum Yum Cha, we are fortunate to have alfresco dining at our Cyber Hub outlet. Patrons certainly feel safer when sitting outdoors in the context of this pandemic.  

With the new regulations in place, we will do everything to cooperate. This will, of course, adversely affect revenue across the board. We hope that the coming days bring more breakthroughs in science so we can leave the pandemic in the rearview mirror.  

Talk us through the idea behind Tbsp. Tablespoon.

The concept behind Tbsp.Tablespoon is inspired by my time spent in the States as typically, most families eat out of their kitchens as opposed to formal dining tables.Tbsp.Tablespoon seeks to be a multi-sensorial experience, serving up familiar gastronomical notes with an imaginative twist. It is interwoven with research, knowledge of ingredients, techniques and tireless experimentations during my downtime in the kitchen.

Given my uncompromising commitment to gourmet excellence, I have been indulging in gastronomic sorcery since the time I was eight years old. I still spend most of my time in my kitchen cooking, watching food documentaries, reading up on various cuisines, and have had a comfort approach to culinary experimentation all along.  

Which is that one kitchen ingredient you’re obsessed with right now.  

My current most favourite is Burrata

When did you start cooking and what is your comfort food?

When I was 8 years old and grilled cheese toast  

Most special meal you ever cooked for someone and for whom  

I cooked fusilli with scallops and roasted sweet potatoes for my wife on our honeymoon in Turks & Caicos.  

Most bizarre request you ever had to cater to?  

That would be 'Sushi ki chaat' (gasps)  

Your favorite kitchen tools

Ceramic knife  

How often do you cook for your own family, and are the expectations always high?  

Yes, I love being in the kitchen and I cook for my family very often. Their expectations are very high especially my 4-year-old son who wanted me to make Oreos at home from scratch during the second lockdown and I did.

A childhood food memory you would like to talk about

I made an omelette when I was 8 years old, even though my family loved my first culinary endeavour in the kitchen. Cooking a great omelette is any Chef’s greatest skill and asset and 30 years hence I keep striving to cook that perfect omelette.