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If you're really looking for fairly standard and simple stuff, you're pretty close there to Bar Zaika Bazaar (2A Pond Place / 020 7584 6655), which is related to the high-end and successful (Michelin starred I think) contemporary Indian restaurant Zaika, but with a more trad menu and lower prices. I understood it was meant to do a sort of tapas, but when I went it had a starter-and-main-course kind of menu.

In the West End, there's Masala Zone off Carnaby Street (9 Marshall Street / 020 7287 9966), an 'Indian Wagamama' from the Chutney Mary people. Food is okay; depends on your standards, which depends where you live  :wink:; but it's accessible, fast, friendly and good value. And I remember there's butter chicken on the menu.

Otherwise, you could go in two directions -- either out of the centre, to some of the restaurants based in local communities like Sri Krishna and Kastoori in Tooting (the latter good East African/Gujarati vegetarian food); or upmarket, to some of the newer, finer-dining places that are winning a lot of plaudits recently (like Zaika, Cinnamon Club, the revamped Red Fort), but this may indeed be getting 'fancy'.

Just steer clear of Brick Lane, with the possible exception of the Lahore Curry House.

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Near Harrod's ,on the other side of the road is Haandi ,which is run by East African Asians and features Punjabi cooking from that neck of the woods. I haven't been but my wife,who is Kenyan Asian,and her compatriot friends go there at least annually and say the food is tasty and authentic.

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The first South Indian vegetarian restaurant in London was Diwana Bhel Poori in Drummond Street, still serving much the same menu to the same standard (and at virtually the same prices!) for a quarter century. Some insist it's not very good, many others (including me) find it most enjoyable and extremely good value. When I first went there shortly after it opened, knowing nothing of such food, the range of flavors in their cold starters was a revelation to me.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Just steer clear of Brick Lane, with the possible exception of the Lahore Curry House.

Kakijuro,I assume you mean the Lahore Kebab House which is not in Brick Lane but in Umberston St. off the Commercial Rd.

The restaurants in Brick Lane are virtually all Bangladeshi run.The Lahore and others like it such as New Tayyab in Fieldgate St and the newly opened Sizzlers at Stepney Green are run by Pakistanis.

The Lahore used to have a cult following and the food is still very good.However they were been closed down last month twice by environmental health officers and they have had ongoing problems of this nature for years.The latest incident was a mouse infestation in the freezer unit (presumably not in the freezer itself-I mean I've heard of mice taking a winter break but that would be ridiculous)

I have always found the service at the Lahore to be unfriendly,not to say surly,although this might stem from years of having to contend with abusive drunken lager gits from the City-a problem that affects Cafe Spice Namaste as well,but which the New Tayyab seems to have avoided.

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..." and the newly opened Sizzlers at Stepney Green are run by Pakistanis."

What an unfortunate name for a new restaurant. Americans (and those who visit America) may know that Sizzler is an egregious steakhouse, probably what Angus/Aberdeen/American Steakhouses are modeled after...

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Exactly. Except on the two occasions I've eaten at the Stepney Sizzlers,the sizzle plates themselves were nowhere to be seen.

When I asked the reply was that they had them but didn't use them,something to do with the smoke extraction system not being fully operational yet. They should get moving because serving up those kebabs and tandoori meats directly on the plate just isn't the same.

This restaurant also has "sizzling" marinated beef steak on the menu. Unusual for an East End Pakistani place.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Greetings!

I'd like thoughts on the best Indian restaurant

1) In all price classes

2) In the less inexpensive price classes.

In fairly Central London, and with enough Southern Indian options to keep vegetarians entertained.

Given how much we love truly good Indian food, it will probably be our focus while in London in September.

Thanks.

PS If answered elsewhere, please point me in the right direction.

beachfan

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A lot of the best Indian options are not in Central London but in surrounding areas where more people actually live and where the Asian population is concentrated.

For vegetarian/semi vegetarian you could try Malabar Junction in Great Russell St., Diwana Bhel Poori House in Drummond St(behind Euston station),and Rasa Samudra in Charlotte St.

The best upmarket places are Chutney Mary in King's Rd, Bombay Brasserie in South Kensington and Veerswamy in Regent St. Tamarind in Covent Garden and The Red Fort in Dean St are praised to the skies by some but others are sceptical.

You could also try Mela in Shaftesbury Ave. and doubtless Simon would wish to point you in the direction of India Club in The Strand.

If you're happy to travel futher afield there are lots of other places.

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Per Tony's remarks about going further out, check the thread Authentic Indian Recommendations. Of these, for veg Indian, I'm going to plug Kastoori again, even though it's not central (it's in Tooting). Copy/paste:

They serve strictly vegetarian, E African/Gujarati food, very affordably in rather dull surroundings. The cooking itself is tremendously accomplished, through, and interesting to boot (chilli banana curry, which you should order if it's on the rotating list of specials, springs to mind). Its reputation does seem to be spreading (they have a review from some NY-based magazine on the wall comparing them favourably to Zaika) so you may need to book. Have the dahi puri.

188 Upper Tooting Road, 020 8767 7027.

There are also recent-ish threads on nouvelle and simple Indian food in London.

I'm surprised by the great reputation of Malabar Junction here. I ate there once a couple of years ago and wasn't at all impressed. But then the company (work dinner) was fairly awful so maybe that coloured the experience. Or maybe it's changed. Should I give it another go?

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Beechfan - Tony suggested Veereswamy but I think the place is not in the top tier. I took my crew out to dinner there a few years ago. It was something like 10 of us and the food was wholly unimpressive and bland. Nice atmosphere, and if I'm remembering correctly, the menu read well and is based on Indian street food. But it was one of the most mediocre Indian meals I've ever had in London. For me, I've never had a bad meal at Tamarind on Queen Street in Mayfair (not in Covent Garden.) I also have liked eating at Star of India on Old Brompton Rd. in South Kensington though I haven't done so in a while. But the place is fun and the owner is a character. And if you want old school, Bombay Brasserie on the Gloucester Rd. is a fun place. The infamous low end place is Lahore Kabob House in the East End. Truly a funky place with fiery food.

When are you going to be there as I am going to be in London in September as well.

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The infamous low end place is Lahore Kabob House in the East End. Truly a funky place with fiery food.

Infamous in more ways than one. The place was shut down twice in June by environmental health inspectors,the second time for having mice in the freezer unit (tandoori mouse anyone?). It has had problems of this nature through the years. If you want Pakistani Lahori food, New Tayyab is close by and infinitely superior,not to say cleaner.

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Tony - Oh so that's what I tasted in my balti at Lahore :biggrin:. I didn't think that Beachfan would trek to the East End for Lahore. For some reason, vegetarian doesn't go with dirty if you know what I mean. As for Veereswarmy, I think I went after the new owners took over because the "inventive" menu seemed to be in place. At the time, a bunch of people were saying it was the best Indian in London. I couldn't see it at all.

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I'll second Mela (great) and the India Club (fun experience, good food). If you're in Islington, Parveen just off Upper Street is very good (thanks, Magnolia!). Mela and Parveen are very reasonable/good value, India Club is downright cheap.

If I had to choose one it would be Mela.

Sometimes When You Are Right, You Can Still Be Wrong. ~De La Vega

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Mela - For authenticity ( Kuldeep Singh is a very talented chef and they make the best Rabri I have ever had outside India

Tamarind - is good. Avoid the seafood dishes which are bland

The India Club is a filling station, ludicrously cheap, hit and miss ( more miss than hit ) but I love it

Star of India - Rajeev Mohammed ( Sp?) is a very good chef and becoming a bit of a personality. He loves what he does and it shows. HE makes a superb Hydrabadi Byriani and the tandoor cooking is of a very high order.

Parveen is close to where I work, so I do go there quite a lot. It is no more than a fancily done out curry house now and the food, while not bad, is overpriced.

S

As with Blondie, my choice would be Mela

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Thanks for the great links and recommendations. If anyone still wants to add their voice, please do so. I will tally the pros and cons for each - several seem to have both supporters and detractors.

beachfan

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For upscale I agree, Chutney Mary's but no one seems to have mentioned Zaika in SW London, it is one of the first Indian restaurants to have received a Michelin Star, it is stunning food. Chutney Mary's is rather passe now.

As for vegetarian- for South Indian dosas for eg., anywhere on Drummond Street in Central London, which others here have recommended as well.

As for Lahore Kebab House in East London, 2 Umberston Street London E1 it has absolutely the BEST food, it is what one would call "Pakistani street food" . There is no ambience though. I have been eating there for many years and never got sick, I am not aware of it having closed down for health reasons, but perhaps it is true.

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Tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm assuming the distinction between 'Indian' and 'Pakistani' food, which is based on fairly recent political contingencies and huge geographical areas, is fairly meaningless in the context of the large number of different styles we're lumping under 'Indian' in the first place. That is, there are not two entities that are being compared, but two supergroups with lots of overlap, and probably much bigger differences within than between the supergroups. Or not?

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