Karma Modern Indian, the sleek restaurant just north of Chinatown that recently landed on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, plans to open a sibling location in Alexandria in a couple months. A more casual outpost called Kismet Modern Indian is expected to land at 111 N. Pitt Street in Old Town this September.
“It’s not going to be fine dining where Karma is, but more ‘fun’ dining,” says co-founder Sachin Mahajan, who has long wanted to open multiple restaurants. Servers won’t don ties like they do at Karma to add to the dressed-down feel.
The New Delhi native and longtime Alexandria resident landed a 4,000-square-foot space that housed a Burger Fi until 2017. He says the open, “industrial chic” layout with concrete floors was appealing. So was a 30-seat courtyard patio out back.
Karma executive chef Ajay Kumar will create the menu at Kismet, with plans to introduce dishes like lamb chops and cumin potatoes, lobster masala with beetroot poriyal, and pan-seared scallops with sesame seeds and red pepper sauce.
“We want to do some seafood items given the close proximity of the water,” Mahajan says, referencing branzino and prawns.
Like Karma, the cuisine won’t be limited to one region of India. Some of Karma’s best-selling staples, like chicken tikka made with a blend of tandoori spices the kitchen grinds on-site, will make their way over to Old Town. But the two menus will largely be different. Vegetable-based orders at Kismet will feature grilled sweet potatoes, hearts of palm, and artichokes.
The renovation for the space will add an 18-seat bar area, white quartz tables, and earthy and cognac tones splashed throughout.
“I feel our food really looks nice when it’s a simple white background, and we want to keep it that way,” Mahajan says.
Kismet will be the second restaurant for Mahajan and fellow New Delhi native Ricky Singh. Eventually, Mahajan says he’d like to expand Karma to other American cities. The brand’s new bar manager is Christian Richardson, a former bartender at Karma who most recently worked at Doyle in the Dupont Circle Hotel.
Karma’s bar is known for its biodynamic wine program and well-dressed cocktails that incorporate cardamom and other Indian spices. An alcohol-free Tiger’s Tail (blood orange, turmeric, and chili water) got a shoutout from Michelin. Karma (611 Eye Street NW) is now open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner .