Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Khan’s, Westbourne Grove (near Bayswater tube station)
I've been told that the best curry restaurants in London are most definitely not from Brick Lane. This, I find believable, because if you've ever been down Brick Lane, you would have seen banners with 'Best Curry Restaurant 2007' where the restaurant name is.
The same banner on almost all the restaurants.
Either there was a massive banner giveaway, or they all won the same award at the same time for the same category.
In the search for good curries in London, there have been 2 restaurants on top of the recommendations list:
New Tayyabs (been there, and it's bril)
Khan's (the subject of today's post)
How does one go about reviewing a curry-house? Well, here are some of the items on the checklist.
- Fake palm trees (check)
- Plates with the restaurant name on it (check)
- Reasonably priced curries (check)
- Fabulous tasting food (check)
With all these items checked, I'd say Khan's is number 2 on my curry-list, with New Tayyab's still on the number 1 spot. Perhaps it was the ambience (dimmed lighting in Tayyab's, white lights with fake palm trees in Khan's) or the fact that the food wasn't served hot at Khan's, but the numero uno factor was missing from Khan's.
Poppadoms to nibble on while deciding what to order. The chutneys that came with it were pleasant enough – mango, mint yoghurt, lime pickle and an onion, cucumber, tomato salad.
With our group of 7, we were free to order pretty much the whole menu (or about 8 dishes, actually). As we were diners of the same nature (sweet, nice people with a penchant for trying other people's food) we decided to order 8 dishes to be shared, using the commonly known rule of:
n + 1 (n being the number of diners)
My friend who'd been there many times before had been mouthing the words 'butter chicken' from the moment I met her, about 3 hours prior to dinner, so there was no surprise when we had 2 of that on order (well-justified as that was the favourite of the meal).
At this point, I apologise if I have named some of the curries incorrectly, as I didn't do the ordering, and most of the dishes came at the same time, were passed around the table, and I didn't have a notepad.
Garlic naan £2.25
Crispy on the outside, but not quite fluffy enough to be considered top of its class.
Lamb bhuna £5.15
Lamb pieces were juicy without being string-like, and definitely had much bite to it. The spices shone through, each mouthful was a subtle yet individually identifiable burst of flavour, chewed on with enthusiasm. Not too spicy, just enough.
Bhindi bhaji £3.85
When we ordered this, we didn’t bother reading the description of the dish from the menu as we saw the words ‘bhaji’ and ‘bhindi’ and somehow assumed it’d be deep fried battered okra (ladies fingers), similar to onion bhajis.
When it arrived, looking alot like bhindi curry, I had another read of the menu and realised that the description on the menu was ‘okra cooked in dry masala sauce’. Which it was, and tasty.
Lamb pasanda £5.15
This was not to my taste. The lamb pieces were a funny sort of colour, and looked as though it had been cooked separately from the curry before being mixed into the sauce. The taste of (possibly) almond and coconut completely took over any other spices which may have been used in the dish. I've not had a pasanda before, so perhaps this was the best of its kind and it's meant to be like this, but if so, I won't be ordering pasandas again.
Sag paneer £3.65
The cheese or paneer cubes tasted like tofu, which I assume is how it's supposed to be. The versions of sag paneers I've had before didn't have cubes of cheese, instead the cheese used to be melted into the spinach into one gooey concoction. Somehow I prefer this version as it had a cleaner, more identifiable taste between the cheese and the spinach. I like my flavours to be identifiable, textures to be different.
Chicken bourji £6.15
We ordered this as it was on the Chefs Recommendation bit of the menu as the concept is that anything on the Chefs Recommendation bit is usually OK. While it wasn't spectacularly impressive, it was OK (proves the point above).
Butter chicken £6.85
When this dish arrived, I was surprised by how red it was. With the description of butter chicken, I expected it to look creamy, possibly like what the pasanda looked like. There was a little river of butter on top of the dish, which convinced me sufficiently that we weren't served chicken tikka masala instead. As I bit into the first piece of chicken (slightly dry), the taste began to shout out a little. You'd never put butter and curry together, but it works. The butter acts as the cream base to neutralise the spice, and unlike in kurmas where the taste of coconut pretty much takes over the taste of anything else, this blended well with the spices in the dish.
Perhaps there were too many dishes, each wanting to stand out. Perhaps we ordered combinations which didn't work together. Or perhaps it was because the dishes arrived cold, but the general overview of the meal was that while the food was above average, nothing really shone out on its own.
I suppose it's not that bad saying that it's second to New Tayyabs, as that is supposedly one of the best curry restaurants in London. If you're in the Bayswater bit of town, do check it out though.
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