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Going back a decade or so, British and other ex-pats sharing stories of life on the road often tended to agree on the things they missed most about life back home. The collective yearning for real ale and pub lunches has inspired many attempts globally at recreating the typical English pub which means that communities living away from home can now enjoy more of the comforts they otherwise had to do without. But for many years now, people in Britain have enjoyed a curry just as much as anything on an English menu, which means that when in other countries, they are just as likely to look for an Indian restaurant as an English style pub. Fortunately, in Astana, they have one of the very best right on their doorstep, India Gate.
What characterises good Indian or Bangladeshi restaurants in the UK is that they are very loyal to the culture of the Indian sub-continent, right from the music they play to the way they decorate the dining area. This has become an expectation of the millions of people who eat out in such places every week and getting a taste of India means more than sampling one of the many options from the menu. India Gate knows that without the extras the experience is incomplete, and right from the moment you enter the main area it is obvious that every attention has been paid to making customers feel that they are eating in a very Indian environment.
The excellent and very friendly Indian manager has gone to great lengths to make coming to India Gate more than just a meal stop. This is Bollywood in the steppes and the immensely successful Indian film industry with all its colour and flair is very well represented here. You are welcomed into the dining area by waitresses dressed in colourful Indian style garments, each able to communicate in English to respectable levels, and each fully aware of the importance of customer service. The dining area seats 60 people and there are sofas for those waiting for tables one of which offers privacy behind a screen if needed. The décor is also typically Indian with many tributes to top Indian stars on display as well as more traditional fittings and ornamentation which similarly do not let the side down. There are also two TVs which complement the music and atmosphere without becoming a distraction in any way.
Food is all cooked to order, with the reasonable exception of business lunches which are served as buffets while still as freshly prepared as options chosen from the menu. These are available from 12:00 till 15:00 Monday to Friday at a cost of 1,500 KZT per person. More generally, restaurant opening times are 11:00 a.m. until midnight every day. The establishment caters for banquet parties, group bookings, home and office delivery and provides a buffet service. Payment can be made in cash or using all types of cards.
Many claim that some of the Indian dishes common in Europe have been created for the western market and this is no bad thing, but India Gate is proud to serve the kind of food the chefs would be happy to serve to their own families. This is authentic Indian cuisine, prepared by experts who know their country's culinary traditions as well as any chef working in Britain, and for that matter, India, and the food is a testimony to their talent. There are also Chinese and Thai options.
Meat and vegetarian dishes are available with a variety of side dishes or breads, notably the parathas which are certainly the best the author has ever had. You may opt for spicy or mild curries and the staff are also happy to consider other reasonable preferences as well. You may also enjoy a drink, with many on offer from French wine to fine teas, with Indian beer such as the famous Cobra lager expected soon.
Astana is growing at such a rapid pace that to describe India Gate as central may soon be a claim with less validity as the wave of impressive construction continues apace on both sides of the river. Nevertheless, it is easy to find and in a convenient location near to residential and business areas, as well as some top hotels, for example the Radisson and the Marriott. Its clientele is as diverse as the choices on its menu with locals and ex-pats happy to consider themselves regular while the Indian community here make this a priority when choosing somewhere for lunch or dinner. This is a great vote of confidence, but perhaps no more so than the number of British curry lovers eating here again and again.