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Cafe Spice Namaste is not a Goan restaurant as such. The chef is from Goa and there are some Goan specialties on the menu, but it also serves dishes from other regions and some Anglo-Indian inventions (Barbary Duck Tikka anybody?).

I'm told that the second branch of CSN, in Clapham, has closed.

There is a Goan restaurant,Ma Goa, which is in Charlotte St, I think. I've never been but Fay Maschler used to rave about it.

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I had supper with Indiagirl and her hubby last night. I was going to take them to Mela, but it is currently closed for a refurb.

Instead I took them to Chowki, Kuldeep Singh's other restaurant in Denham St. It was pretty good. The basic schtick of the place is that they take three regions of India each month and present dishes from their cuisine. They have 12 chefs between the two restaurants who they move around depending on which region is being covered.

last night we tried dishes from kasmir, Bengal and Cettaria(sp?) Next week they will be changing to dishes from countries neighbouring India ( Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh )

The food was really quite good with a Bengali talapia mustard fish standing out in my memory. The bill for the three of us was very reasonable too.

I think I prefer Mela, but Chowki is definitely worth a visit

S

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Simon,

Thanks for that. I think I have walked past Chowki, and I liked the look of it. Is it the one that's just off Shaftesbury Avenue?

Can you elaborate on what you had please? I take it the talapia dish was variation on the Bengali classic Macher jhol ?

Cheers

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As you head south on Shaftsbury Ave, Denham St is the road on the right just after Windmill St. Chowki is immediately on the right.

The inside is very modern and , if I didn't loathe waggamama's so much i would say it reminded me a bit of that with 1/2 the restaurant taken over with refectory style tables.

We had

STARTERS

Best end of mutton - cutlets

Kingfish in mustard - this is more like the mascher jhol

Potato Dumplings

MAINS

Talapia with doodhi vegetables

kasmiri Lamb curry

Brinjal with potatoes and tomatoes

These came with sides of buttered fennel naan and otthapams and some kidney beans which were very good ( not sure how they are cooked

I like Kuldeep Singh a lot. he is a very pleasant person who really wants to make his restaurants welcoming and good value.

There is a link to the current and new menus at www.chowki.com

S

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Mela is superb... agreed.

Also, i highly rate Thames Tandoori on Waterloo Road, nr the station. The best chicken karahi in town. Very unique.

Porte des Indes - wpnderful place. Very grand with fountains etc... Worth a try

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  • 1 month later...

We had a very pleasant meal at Chowki last Friday night. Arrived at 10.15pm after a performance of the excellent play - Stones in his Pockets. We noticed that the rooms have modern decor and had large square, squashy leatherette type seating, or they did where we were seated at the large communal type seating in the basement. Three of us opted for the "Regional feast", this comprises of a three course meal - you choose a starter and a main course from a menu , but sticking to a particular region of India. The main course includes: a type of rice; a dhal dish; a vegetable dish; and a specific type of bread, all for a very reasonable £10.95. In our case I opted for Punjabi meal, whilst our friend chose from Rajashtan and her sister chose dishes from Kerala. The wife i.e., the venerable Missus Hoity toity, ignored us minions and decided to go a la carte

My starter was deep fried Kingfish, meaty in texture and well fried, but not terribly flavoursome. Keralan starter was a deep fried piece of tilapia served on a banana leaf. I tried a bit and found that the flavour was good but the piece of fish very thin. The Rajashtan dish was a variation on the ubiquitous tandoori chicken, which our friend found was a tad too spicy. Rosie had paneer cheese. I used to abhor this dish and would gladly have rather eaten my own testicles before ever putting paneer in my mouth again. I fear that years of having mother dearest, trying to force me to have paneer and pea curry, at dinner have put up a bit of a barrier to this particular dish. However, that extreme measure aside, I did try it and it was very good but quite spicy which I wasn't excepting. All the starters came with a lovely coriander and mint dip. Guess what? That was spicy as well.

I rather liked the way that the main courses are served. A thin elliptical dish is placed in front of you horizontally, from which you spoon on the other dishes and then eat. Then the main courses arrive on a larger crescent shaped dish, upon which sit little bowls of the various dishes. This larger dish slots neatly above the smaller elliptical dish, making a large oval shape. A bit gimmicky, but hey, I was in a good mood and was therefore susceptible to being easily impressed.

I was a little too wrapped up in my own (witty) conversation, to remember exactly what everyone else had but, I had a dish of Punjabi of spicy lamb. This came with excellent lentils, a tomato based paneer side dish and steamed rice. Rosie had a fantastic rich butter chicken dish, cooked on the bone and very tender, with tomato lentils and pilau rice. A Keralan Chicken tikka massala dish was also well received and was another lamb dish from Rajashtan . Sorry, I can't remember the nuances of that dish, other than that it was delicately flavoured, and quite creamy and most importantly that she left the lamb bone, including the marrow. Hurrah, I immediately homed in on this as she didn't want it and wolfed it down. Roll on the bone marrow dish at St John in July ! Side dishes were all good, the various types of lentil dishes proving especially popular and the breads were excellent, especially the Paratha and an interesting thin bread which was very similar in look to a dosa. Puddings were not particularly well liked and I have to say that as a Bengali, I am generally not too keen on them myself. My Gulab Jamun dish was the best of the bunch.

Total bill was £63 for four of us including a bottle of Sauvignon, a small Cobra, a large mineral water and a salt lassi for my insane wife( Yoghurty brine anybody? - yeuuch). Note that if going for the Regional feast, that the main course which you order will be a smallish portion, since you are also receiving the side dishes rice and bread as well. This was fine for me, but those wanting a protein fest may be better suited going a la carte.

Nevertheless, a good and very reasonably priced meal for four, especially for the West End. The staff were very pleasant too. I still prefer Kuldeep Singh's other place, Mela, further up Shaftesbury Avenue, but we will definitely venture back here again.

Edited by Bapi (log)
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Notwithstanding Bapi's prejudice on Paneer - twas truly scrummy. On size of dishes - agree portion would disappoint if you were really really looking forward to your main. And it doesn't make any different going a la carte. I didn't go for the feast because I knew I'd never face Indian puddings .... so went for starter and main, but even so the main was a small portion with the sides dishes Bapi's talked about.

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  • 4 months later...

I read the controversy over Benares in that thread. I checked Michelin, but I'm a little leery of their "ethnic" picks. Also, although I'm willing to pay, decor and food quality have not always gone hand in hand in this category. In the bad old days of travelling to London, Indian food usually provided the culinary highlights for me. What spots do egulleters like now?

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New Tayyabs is closed now until the end of November for Ramadan.

I second- Mela( Shaftesbury Avenue) or its sister restaurant Chowki( 2/3 Denman Street) just off Shaftesbury Ave. Both headed up by Kuldeep Singh. Very reasonable, well cooked food for the West end.

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If you like spicy, Southern Indian food, I would recommend Woodlands. They serve vegetarian Indian food. There are a few branches but the most central location is in Panton St., off Leicester Square.

If vegetarian is OK with you, pretty much any of the Indian restaurants in Drummond St, NW1, near Euston Square tube, are authentic but also reasonably priced.

I think Rasa, off Oxford St., is wonderful for Keralan food. This is a more upscale restaurant. I hope it's still in business (it was last time I ate there in Nov 00).

Foodie_Penguin

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I think Rasa, off Oxford St., is wonderful for Keralan food. This is a more upscale restaurant. I hope it's still in business (it was last time I ate there in Nov 00).

I walked past it on my way to Pied A Terre a couple of weeks ago, still going strong by the looks of things.

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i'd recommend Masala Zone, off Carnaby St. Great, inexpensive, canteen, no booking policy. Fantastic is the street food, favourite of mine is the Gosht Dablaroti, it's a Sindhi comfort dish of lamb curry with hunks of white bread in it mmmmmmm, my mouth's watering just thinking about it.

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  • 2 years later...

Far too many to list. Consider this selection the tip of a Mumbai-sized iceberg.

Veeraswamy's a good semi-posh option post its refit. For Pakistani, New Tayyabs has a dedicated foodie following. Chowki is cheap and handy if you're stuck in the tourist hell around Eros.

For somewhere a bit less travelled, I've been very impressed with Indian Zing, at the scuzzy end of King's Road in Hammersmith.

Brick Lane remains an entertaining adventure, despite its deteriorating reputation; Shampan has, historically, been the least likely to serve rat shit in your vindaloo. Locals will insist that Drummond Street, behind Euston station, is the better option for south Indian: don't listen. It used to be, until the hoards discovered Diwana Bhel Poori, management discovered they could charge twice the price for half the quality, and it all went horribly Nathan Fong.

I've never ventured out to the many Punjab options in Southall, but those that have seem enthusiastic.

Edit update: I should probably also add that Tamarind is arguably the top fancy option if cost is no object.

Edited by naebody (log)
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I would agree with most of that. But for "top posh money no object" I would say that AMAYA wins hands down. It is the most modern and forward thinking Indian restaurant in London, but thats not to say the Indian flavours are in any way diluted down. Its a place more for grills/tandoori food and biryiani rather than for curries, but is a fabulous and unique to London Indian eating experience, and one that I would highly recommend.

For South Indian food, any one of the Rasa group of restaurants is very good. Rasa Samudra is the best option IMO, owing to its central location and availability of seafood, which is good. If you would prefer vegetarian South Indian, slightly cheaper, head out west to Hammersmith for Sagar. The same dishes are available at Rasa, but it would be more expensive there, tho you will have a larger menu choice at Rasa.

The other posh Indians to go to would be Cinnamon Club (fab room, havent eaten there for over a year now tho, but its not as 'traditional' Indian as Tamarind) and Benares. This is another fab room, and altho its likely to be busier than normal owing to the chef/owners outing on Great British Menu, still provides very decent cooking, altho not as traditional as Tamarind (where Kochar used to work) but not as modern as Cinnamon Club. The cooking here overall I would say is better than Tamarind or Cinnamon Club. Having said that, Tamarind's lamb chops are one of my fave dishes in London!

If you're feeling adventurous, then heading down to Tooting for Mirch Masala, Southall for a slice of Punjabi life in London - samosas at Shahenshar, chaat etc at Moti Mahal and sweets from Ambala and dinner at Gifto's (variable quality but relaxed cafe style) or Madhu's (more trad curry house) would be a nice day out.

But if I could only go to one place, it would definitely be Amaya.

Enjoy!

Raj

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A girl I used to live with a couple of years ago, who's Indian, but brought up in Belgium, always swore that Chutney Mary's on Fulham Road was her, and her entire extended family's (all Indian, from Belgium) favourite Indian restaurant in London. So I have heard good things about it. Shameful thing is, though I live 15mins away, I have never yet actually eaten there, so I couldnt comment.

Same thing with Vama, on Kings Road. Heard many excellent reviews of that place also, but apart from a party I went to that was 'catered' by Vama (excellent food, btw) I again have never eaten there, so wouldnt want to recommend based on second hand information.

Cinnamon Club I agree is slightly overhyped. It has wonderful food, very well cooked. But in using the "Indian ingredients, Western cooking style" approach, I recall some of the flavours in my meals there being somewhat diluted, and with nothing phenomenally new or interesting, flavour-wise. Compared to Amaya, where I really tasted "new" Indian food, without it getting gimmicky or 'fusion-y'. Oysters in coconut gravy, served in the shell, was a standout that I remember, since Prawn Malai Curry (Bengali prawn in coconut gravy curry) is prob one of my fave Indian dishes, but this really took things in a new, but still resolutely Indian direction.

Incidentally, in Bengal, if not the whole of India, oysters, cockles, winkles etc are considered a poor man's food since they are scavenged by those who cannot afford fish, meat and veg etc. Its funny that so many Western dishes find their inspiration in peasant or simple cooking, but in India at least, the majority of the food traditions we have today are remnants of the Moghul influence on cuisine? Indians (Hindus) never really cooked for pleasure before the Mughals came along, preferring to follow a Vedantic diet. Anyways, this aside has gone on for too long!

Cheers

Raj

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No one seems to have suggested Zaika. Last ate there about a year ago, when Sanjay Dwivedi was just back in the kitchen from opening Deya. We found Zaika wonderul on that occasion, although to be fair this may have been becasue it was a wine matching special with a nine-course tasting menu. Details like chutneys and breads were particularly pleasing.

Might be worth trying for lunch, when they do a good value set menu.

Has anyone been more recently?

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Same thing with Vama, on Kings Road. Heard many excellent reviews of that place also, but apart from a party I went to that was 'catered' by Vama (excellent food, btw) I again have never eaten there, so wouldnt want to recommend based on second hand information.

Never been knocked out by Vama. Always seemed like a decent neighbourhood type of place that benefits from its position as the best option in Chelsea, which is knee-deep with restaurant reviewers. Doubt it'd even be on radar if it were outside SW3.

If Keralan is your thing, I've heard a few good things about Swayam Ruchi in Clapham. Haven't been though, so that's not a recommendation. As for the Rasas ... people enthuse, I go, I leave disappointed, people enthuse again, I go again, I leave disappointed. Either I'm wrong, or the rest of the world is. (As a rule, I assume the latter.)

While we're here, note that something called Jamuna has appeared in Paddington bearing a hefty menu, top end pricing, zero fanfare and no reviews. I believe the chef is ex Cinnamon Club and Mint Leaf. Anyone risked it?

Edited by naebody (log)
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