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London Indian Restaurants


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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.

Raj, do you really think that Amaya has better food and is more forward thinking than the surprisingly unmentioned Rasoi Vineet Bhatia? I like both restaurants but certainly feel that RVB is a better high-end restaurant although I haven't been for a while.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Hmm...I am torn between two different ideas of an Indian restaurant in comparing Rasoi Vineet Bhatia and Amaya.

In fairness to your comments, Matthew, yes, I would have to agree that RVB is indeed more modern and forward thinking. And in terms of fitting the description of a high end meal, again, it works better, both as a room, and an eating experience.

However...in terms of the dishes....well, let me think about them in terms of conception and then in terms of cooking skill etc. I think, in terms of concept, while it is encouraging to see Indian food being taken down a Tom Aikens-y slightly molecular gastronomy type route, for me, the marriage wasnt entirely successful. Its a good trick, but to my mind, which admittedly is probably somewhat staid when it comes to Indian food and cooking, I felt like someone was trying too hard.

In terms of cooking, everything was spiced and cooked well, no complaints. Maybe a bit too much ginger in the lobster, but thats either a blip or my personal taste. But I am still ambivalent about whether I personally enjoy Indian food cooked in this way.

To make things clearer: my favourite Indian restaurant in the world is Bukhara in Delhi. Its a fancy restaurant serving simple food: its all about the grills. This is what I love cos I eat, or ate, "curry" at home, and to me, grills and biryanis are the treats of eating out. This perhaps why I am such an Amaya fan.

Let me further say, that taking the Indian "curry" concept forwards is, to my mind, something very difficult to do. The combinations we have in "traditional" curries (I would really prefer to avoid a discussion about "authenticity") are, arguably, a slow rooting out process of what spices go with what meats/veg in whatever gravies. They work. Substituting certain meats or vegetables may make a change, but its rarely something mind blowing that results from it (chocolate samosa etc). And does it move Indian cuisine forwards?

What Zaika etc started in London, using Western cooking styles with Indian ingredients, is a fantastic idea and has certainly "raised the profile" of Indian food (Bonjour, Monsieur Michelin Man) and allowed it to appeal to the sort of diner that wouldnt want to have to go to the local curry house or order take away to eat an Indian meal. But its not as big a development of Indian food as what Ferran Adria et al have done wtih European food (or is it just food in general?). So, getting back to RVB and Amaya. I think that Amaya has added a small but noticeable dimension to a relatively old concept of Indian food, but succeeded in keeping everything very Indian (whether thats good or bad is arguable). RVB has taken an Indian base and married it, to my mind forcefully and with measured success, to a very much more modern, established style of cooking. I dont think its necessarily a step forward for Indian cooking, but a possible new development in the London restaurant world. Its success will be determined I suppose by how many imitators pop up now.

That was a long answer, apologies! Hope my point wasnt too confused.

Raj

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It's nice to have the all these options, out in the sticks we either get your standard British curry house (Which can be very nice, don't get me wrong) or a 'Modern Indian' restaurant, which is basically the same, except they charge more, give smaller portions and put coriander in everything.

Although there is a new south indian place opened in Southampton which looks like it might be a bit more interesting.

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Chowki is cheap and handy if you're stuck in the tourist hell around Eros.

That seems about right: I ate at Chowki in mid-May, and liked it quite a lot. It's not a destination restaurant by any means, but as mentioned, if you're stuck in that neighborhood and hungry, it's simple, inexpensive, but certainly more upscale than a basic curry house.

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To make things clearer: my favourite Indian restaurant in the world is Bukhara in Delhi. Its a fancy restaurant serving simple food: its all about the grills. This is what I love cos I eat, or ate, "curry" at home, and to me, grills and biryanis are the treats of eating out. This perhaps why I am such an Amaya fan.

Let me further say, that taking the Indian "curry" concept forwards is, to my mind, something very difficult to do. The combinations we have in "traditional" curries (I would really prefer to avoid a discussion about "authenticity") are, arguably, a slow rooting out process of what spices go with what meats/veg in whatever gravies. They work. Substituting certain meats or vegetables may make a change, but its rarely something mind blowing that results from it (chocolate samosa etc). And does it move Indian cuisine forwards?

That was a long answer, apologies! Hope my point wasnt too confused.

Raj

No problem about the long answer and I'm sure you'll be glad to know that Bukhara is my favourite Indian restaurant as well although I'm not sure that anywhere that has their menu printed up on a wooden chopping board can be described as fancy even though the hotel it is in maybe :raz:

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"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Haha...very true...!!

What I meant of course was the hotel, as you say, and its pricing - definitely in the 'fancy' price range of restaurants, even in Delhi! The bibs also do nothing to raise its fancy status!

Showing those pictures is just cruel...I was stuck in transit thru Delhi over Xmas cos of the fog (on my way to Jammu & Kashmir). However, as I spent all day in the airport hoping beyond hope that my flight would take off, I never got to go to Bukhara...so close, yet so far...but managed on my way back.

Raj

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  • 1 month later...
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!

Had lunch at Benares today. There was a £20 three course lunch menu, which offered two choices at each course and looked very acceptable. However, we were tempted away by the a la carte.

Starters (£12.95 each) were hit & miss; soft shell crab salad had subtle spicing, but scallop and tiger prawn salad was terrible; just two scallops and two prawns for £12.95, and the scallops did not taste particuarly fresh.

Service was also chaotic (though friendly) at this point; breads didn't arrive but rice did (not ideal with salads...), and despite several requests to desist the waiters kept trying to fill our glasses. I was being entertained by a wine merchant who found this quite infuriating.

Then everything improved rapidly. The lamb chops (£24) were about the best thing I've ever eaten in an Indian restaurant, and are apparently much favoured by Gordon Ramsay. They were very tender, beautifully marinaded and cooked on charcoal, served with a pomegranate, green bean and feta salad. The pulao rice came back from the kitchen and proved to be perfect. The wine merchant had lamb rump with chickpeas, which he said was excellent but a little spicy for his taste.

Breads (plain nan and potato & herb nan) were as you would expect at a top-end Indian restaurant.

Puddings were a yogurt cheesecake (dense, but the yogurt stopped it from being cloying) and a duo of kulfis (mango and pistachio) - and I passed on the chocolate sauce which was meant to accompany these. Good, but overpriced at £7.50.

We drank a Riesling Kabinett from the Rheingau which worked with the whole meal. Interestingly, the lady (ex-Roast) who does the wine list told us that until she arrived there was no Alsasce, German or Austrian wine on the list, which seems crazy given the cuisine.

The bill was just under £160 for two including service, which I thought was high given that we had only had one bottle of wine, but you could have lunch here for half that. I'd go back, but at these prices I'd stick to the lunch menu.

There were very few other people lunching, so it was bad luck to be near a dreadful couple who didn't jsut talk on a mobile but even put their daughter on speaker phone so that they could share a lenghy conversation with their daughter and the whole restaurant.

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  • 1 year later...

i am need of an Indian fix during my visit to London in a few weeks. I live in florida and good Indian does not exist.I have tried Amaya in Mayfair but it is only is a Hakkasan imitation in Indian ,see my review at www.gagit.net.

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i am need of an Indian fix during my visit to London in a few weeks. I live in florida and  good Indian does not exist.I have tried Amaya in Mayfair but it is only is a Hakkasan imitation in Indian ,see my review at www.gagit.net.

What an enormous subject, have you any idea how many 'Indian' restaurants there are in London? We could discuss 'best' or 'authentic' until HTML became extinct.

If I were you I would just wander down Brick Lane and simply go in whichever place took your fancy from the scores on offer. I personally like the restaurant with the massive airbrushed mural of Princess Di on the wall. The food's as ok as anywhere else in the area but the mural makes it for me. It's eye-poppingly terrible and yet fascinating, especially if like me you deliberately sit opposite her dinner plate sized eyes and tombstone teeth.

It's definitely not Amaya, that's for sure and I've never had any cause for complaint.

S

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i am need of an Indian fix during my visit to London in a few weeks. I live in florida and  good Indian does not exist.I have tried Amaya in Mayfair but it is only is a Hakkasan imitation in Indian ,see my review at www.gagit.net.

anybody been to Cinammon Club

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I was at Tayyabs last night and while not really Indian (the owner is Pakistani I believe), the flavors are familiar and similar. This is on par with what you'd get at Shalimar over in the Bay Area.

Good stuff that's reasonably priced.

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See what I mean? You'll never get a consensus :biggrin:

Apart from that Brick Lane is uniformly poor.

You must have put many dedicated hours in to come to that unequivocal and rather dismissive conclusion and become rather jaded in the process. I've eaten in Tamarind and Benares and many, many others of course, but I still vastly prefer a Brick Lane curry for a 'fix'. It's not simply about the food on the plate. If I was an expat it would be Brick Lane or Southall I'd hurry for when the plane landed me back in Blighty. Taste is also memories rekindled.

S

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Brick Lane is uniformly poor.

Dismissing the whole of Brick Lane makes me a bit uncomfortable. There are, no doubt, quite a few places where your £6-a-head, BYO meal may not be of the highest quality. But the street also supports one of London's biggest Bengali communities, as evidenced by the twin menus in places like Gram Bangla and Cafe Naz Express. This whole "Brick Lane is all just touts and watery curry" stereotype is playing into the hands of those who want to see it become the next Starbucks frontier.

Anyway, Mr Gagit ... having read your online savagings of places I'd previously considered rather good, such as Gaig and elBulli, I'm not overly keen to direct you towards any Indian restaurants in London (or indeed in India). If my recommendation did not meet your criteria, you would see me as a failure. And if it did, I would consider myself to have failed. It's a no-win, basically.

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i am need of an Indian fix during my visit to London in a few weeks. I live in florida and  good Indian does not exist.I have tried Amaya in Mayfair but it is only is a Hakkasan imitation in Indian ,see my review at www.gagit.net.

You are right that the lighting in Amaya is darkened to a subterranean level. I too find it most annoying, especially if I am in a restaurant on my own and trying to read the paper or a book. Worse, how are you meant to read a wine? In fact Amaya in this respect is particularly bad as there are no white table cloths either.

There is probably a good reason that Amaya is so dark: many of the clientele are most definitely conducting illicit liasons there, when they're not busy chatting away on their cell phones. I will never forget seeing one oriental 'lady' in there with one Arab gentleman old enough to be her grandfather one night, and again in Gavroche the very next night with another different although similarly senior chap.

If it's Amaya's level of cooking you're interested in, rather than a Brick Lane ruby, Rasoi Veenit Bhatia in Chelsea and Zaika in High St Ken spring to mind.

Cheers, Howard

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Brick Lane is uniformly poor.

Dismissing the whole of Brick Lane makes me a bit uncomfortable. There are, no doubt, quite a few places where your £6-a-head, BYO meal may not be of the highest quality. But the street also supports one of London's biggest Bengali communities, as evidenced by the twin menus in places like Gram Bangla and Cafe Naz Express. This whole "Brick Lane is all just touts and watery curry" stereotype is playing into the hands of those who want to see it become the next Starbucks frontier.

You're probably right - I was just kneejerking to Sunbeam's

I would just wander down Brick Lane and simply go in whichever place took your fancy

I have had good meals in Sweet and Spicy (the cafe at the bottom end - Pakistani rather than Bangladeshi I think) but nothing great elsewhere and certainly nothing to touch Tayyabs or even East is East on the Commercial Rd (our hangout since Tayyabs got too busy). And you've got to admit the touts are irritating.

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I live quite close to Brick Lane, and agreed until recently, that it was uniformly poor. However, some persistance has been rewarded and I am a regular at The Raj in Hanway Street. No touts, and its well-patronize by the locals.

Ma'ida on Bethnal Green Road also deserves an honourable mention.

Y o l a n d a
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Ragam in Cleveland St (nearest tube: Goodge St) is good, cheap southern Indian food. Just make sure you only order from the specials on the left side of the menu (especially the Masala Dosai and Uppatham) otherwise you'll wonder why you bothered.

Salaam Namaste in Millman Street, Bloomsbury employs the former head chef of the Sheraton, Mumbai and is excellent, great value and has a range of dishes from across India. Just dont try the crab vindaloo which was a shocker. Everything else is usually spot on.

Neither are restaurants you would pick for the decor, just in case you're trying to impress someone on non food basis.

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i am need of an Indian fix during my visit to London in a few weeks. I live in florida and  good Indian does not exist.I have tried Amaya in Mayfair but it is only is a Hakkasan imitation in Indian ,see my review at www.gagit.net.

Personally I have been disappointed with the Michelin-starred ones such as Amaya, especially when considering value for money. I would suggest one of the following:

Haandi in Knightsbridge - authentic Punajbi cooking

Rasa Samudra in Charlotte Street - Keralan

or take a trip to one of the areas where a lot of Asian families live e.g. in Southall (near Heathrow) both the Brilliant and Madhus are excellent. In South London Kastoori in Tooting does very good South Indian food. All the above are reasonably priced, and a lot better than the Brick Lane/Westbourne Grove places in my view.

For details and reviews of these see www.andyhayler.com

Andy Hayler

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