With its glimmering, Bollywood-kissed dining room and elegant East-meets-West Indian dishes, Tashan is a standout among the Philly restaurant scene’s freshman class. But it’s also earning national buzz, landing a spot on the James Beard Awards’ Best New Restaurant semifinalist list.
“I think we’ve created a very innovative restaurant in terms of the menu, and the space itself is very modern. It’s an experience you can not get in any other Indian restaurant in the country,” says owner Munish Narula, a Wharton MBA grad who is also behind the popular, more casual Tiffin restaurants. “Our dishes are Indian, but there’s a very Western influence in the dishes and the presentation.”
Also on the new restaurant semifinalist list is Center City BYO The Farm and Fisherman. Other local nods in the national categories include Standard Tap and The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. for Outstanding Bar Program; Jessie Prawlucki of Fond and Belle Cakery for Outstanding Pastry Chef; Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Service nominee Vetri; the Fountain Restaurant for Outstanding Servie; Outstanding Restaurateur Stephen Starr; Tria for Outstanding Wine Program; and Joe Cicala of Le Virtù and Lee Styer of Fond for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
Finalists will be announced March 19, and the annual James Beard awards dinner — which also honors food writing and TV shows — takes place May 4.
As for Narula and Tashan chefs Sylva Senat and Sanjay Shende, making the preliminary rounds is a welcome reminder of the cuisine’s increasingly high profile. “Despite the popularity, we still hear that Indian food is all curry or all spicy,” says Narula. “Spicy is good, spicy doesn’t necessarily mean hot — there’s a big difference between chili hot and food being spicy and flavorful. We wanted to introduce that to people who wouldn’t usually try Indian food.”