Vikram Vij—newest star of Dragon’s Den— hails from the Punjab, grew up in Bombay, and trained in French cuisine in Salzburg.When he opened Vij’s back in September 1994, the place immediately got attention because he never peddled Indian-restaurant stalwarts like butter chicken and rogan josh, but instead dared to apply the rich Indian culinary vocabulary to entirely new ideas. Like ghee-braised beef short ribs in spicy cinnamon and red-wine curry. Or Dungeness crab, shrimp and scallops in coconut-saffron curry with cashews. And of course lamb lollipops in fenugreek cream curry. It’s not just the imaginative dishes that make it all tick, it’s the finesse behind them. Vij leans happily on his French training. And he also takes his Indian preparations very seriously—for example, roasting and then grinding all his own spices. It all makes for seasonings of unusual clarity. Besides all that, the place is great fun—dark, perpetually bustling, with a lively bar overcrowded with patrons impatiently waiting for the tables they cannot reserve.