Jewel of India is one of the Auckland’s oldest Indian restaurants and has been a hot favourite not only with the residents of the city’s upscale quarters, which is where it is situated, but also of connoisseurs of good Indian cuisine from all over the metro and beyond.
Located in one of the city’s most beautiful waterfront spots of Mission Bay, the restaurant has built a most loyal custom over the years. Jewel of India is undoubtedly among one of the top of the mind names among Indian restaurants in Auckland.
“We have been looking forward to an acquisition of this kind,” says Anuj Gupta, whose family recently acquired Jewel of India. Anuj maybe new to the restaurant business, but has vast experience in the hospitality business, having managed several motels, in which his family has a commercial interest.
“Restaurants are a different ball game,” admits Anuj. “But basically, we are still very much in the hospitality space – where good service and customer satisfaction is paramount. In that sense, our experience of running sizeable motels stands us in good stead.”
Anuj believes the main ingredient of success in the service industry like hospitality is to build the business around the customer’s taste, comfort and convenience. “At the end of the day, you have to strive to generate good word of mouth. That’s the best form of advertising. Nothing ever delivers like word of mouth.”
The new management wants to deliver more value to the clientele the establishment has built over the years. “We have a dedicated customer base. It’s heartening to see so many repeat customers who seem to know what’s on the menu without so much as even glancing at it,” says Anuj. “We want to enrich their experience even more.”
With the restaurant’s long experienced manager Hiran Perera, Anuj and his team are progressively rolling out a range of improvements in service delivery. While the new management has retained key staff, it is already adding fresh talent both in the kitchens and upfront.
“A meaningful, fresh approach to everything is always good,” says Hiran, who, as well as being an experienced restaurant manager, is also a qualified umpire with New Zealand cricket, officiating in first class matches. Where there’s curry, can cricket be far behind?
The range of Indian cuisines is kaleidoscopic and vast – one lifetime is not enough to savour all of it as one dedicated epicurean famously said. Anuj acknowledges that the fare that is dished out from mainstream Indian restaurants around Auckland is pretty much standard.
“The idea is to slowly venture beyond that space and bring the rich variety of Indian flavours to Kiwi connoisseurs of which there are sizeable numbers,” says Anuj. “But it will take careful study of what actually appeals in the end.”
Meanwhile, the restaurant will concentrate on fine-tuning its most popular offerings with quality ingredients and processes. “We are taking a fresh look at everything we do,” says Hiran.
The most ordered item is of course Butter Chicken, but Lamb/Chicken Bhuna, Chicken Lazeez, Samudri Khazana and the ever-popular Tandoori Platter are all time favourites and the new management is working toward making them better and better. “We’re going the whole hog – from ingredients, to processes, to ordering time to presentation,” says Anuj. “And of course we will be keen on the feedback.”
Jewel of India is a fully licensed restaurant and Anuj and his team are also looking closely at its beverage offerings. Among the favourites are Indian beers like Kingfisher, some of which is also bottled here in New Zealand.
Anuj is considering a host of plans to enhance the profile of Jewel of India. “One of the things we want to do is showcase on a regular basis the multiplicity of cuisines from different parts of India. We’ve got a number of plans. But all I’ll say now is watch this space.”
The restaurant is perfectly suited for such activity. It is situated in a part of town, which has people that would appreciate an enhanced and variegated dining experience, it already has a solid reputation and its interiors have the colours and the ambience to deliver a more definitive sub-continental experience.