Har Gau


Friday 23 October 2009

Papadoms / Mango, Brick Lane, London

Let's give you a preview as to how this dinner went, by relaying the conversation that we had as we were coming out of the restaurant, talking to the guy (presumably one of the owners or waiters) who asked us in there in the first place.


(With one hand shaking my friend's hand) 'How was it! How was it!' in a loud, friendly, booming voice.

'Well mate, honestly, not so good.'

'I know, I know,' patting my friend on the back, in a not so loud, booming voice. Said man then proceeds to give my friend his business card, and promises a discount the next time we go back there.

I'd rather eat dry cereal, to be honest.

So, now that you have a flavour of the story, let's begin, shall we?

(If this didn't get me blogging again, I don't know what did).


Last week, our friends asked us to go with them to Brick Lane for the curry festival that was going on there. Now, having been to Brick Lane a few times (though not to eat), and having seen the countless banners proclaiming wins or nominations at almost every restaurant of some curry award or another, we obviously felt quite suspicious of most of them. Which one do we choose? With nothing to guide us around, we decided on choosing the one with the most people, yet not that many people that would make us have to wait more than 5 minutes.


With that in mind, Papadoms fit the bill, and with the guy at the front telling us that we'd be given first drinks free, and 20% of the food bill, we thought, why not?
(More on why not coming right up.)

Having amused ourselves chatting for about 20 mins, we slowly ran out of conversation topics and began focusing on why it was taking them so long to get us a table. The guy at the door obviously sensed this, and so ushered us out of the original restaurant, and into one a few doors down, which he called his 'other branch'. Alternatively also called Mango, to the discerning public.

So, to summarise the story so far, this is where we should have been eating at, when we made the choice to go into Papadoms.


This is where we actually ate at, when the manager / marketing guy / person doing the business pulling decided to take us to hi ‘other branch’ instead.


Now, the first thing to note here is that I ALWAYS look at other people’s food on the way to my table. This is pretty much so that I can see what’s good, what’s not, and how pleasing the portion sizes are. What I saw on the way to the table this time were lots of little dishes, with bland-looking watery curry in them.

(Should have walked out, huh.)

Sat down, ordered, and asked for a jug of tap water. We got the first round of drinks free, as part of the curry festival customer-pulling deal, so we figured, why not make the most of that, and then make do with tap water after. Thing is, Mr Waiter Guy must have had something else on his agenda, as it took us 5 tries before some water finally came our way.

Mango, Brick Lane - Glass with soap

With some soap bubbles added for good measure.

Obviously, you can see from the picture that the soap was on the outside of the glass, and Mr Waiter Guy also vehemently stressed this fact to us, as though we were being unreasonable, because, hey, the soap is on the outside, not on the inside, no probs!

Nada, my friend. Probs. You don’t serve water in soapy glasses.


Anyhow, moving on to the food, when it came. Almost at the same time when our food arrived at our table, I overheard the lady at the table across from us say loudly to the waiter that her food had no flavour at all and that she didn’t order what she was served. The waiter then said that he’d give her another complimentary dish, and that it would be one of the nicer ones there. When the said dish arrived, the thank you was said, the waiter walked away, and I overheard her saying that the new dish wasn’t up to scratch either.

Thing is, even with all that, we approached our food with open minds. Wanting to make the most of the meal, and wanting to enjoy the rest of our night out, we waited for the food to arrive. When it did, let’s just say, the plates were much bigger than the amount of food actually in them (with the exception of the side dish, in which the biggest thing in there was the spoon).

Note: No prices stated here as I didn’t note them down, but the curry dishes were about £8-ish, and we had a 20% discount.

Mango, Brick Lane - Chicken calamansi

Chef’s special lamb curry with calamansi
Look, this dish was tasty, with surprising new flavours which were nice as I’d not had them in curries before. True, the dish was cooked well, the meat was OK tender, and the blend of flavours worked well. However, when the portion is barely enough for one, but priced higher than average, I find it hard to stomach the dish. Call it quantity over quality if you like, but that’s an important factor to me.

Mango, Brick Lane - Mango lamb

Lamb mango curry
This was what I ordered, mainly because I like the taste of fruit in curry, and find the mix of sweetness in curry quite delightful tasting. It didn’t disappoint, and exceeded my expectations actually, with the mango infusing ever so well with the curry sauce. The sweetness of the mango was evident throughout the sauce, and the only thing bringing the dish down was the tough pieces of lamb in the dish.


Fish balti
The flavours here were again, quite good. Dry and fragrant, the dish would have been top class if not for the fact that the portions were just too small, and the fish was just that bit overcooked and tough.


Chef’s special chicken curry (not trying to be vague, but I didn’t take down the name of the dish)
Refer to comments above, is all I can say.


Bhindi side dish (ladies fingers, or okra), about £3

This is the dish where the spoon was almost bigger than the portion itself. As we ordered this to share, there wasn’t much there to be shared, so we kinda had about a teaspoon each. Tasty, but so very little of it.


And as I usually say at the end of each post, would I recommend this restaurant? Not really, no. From the deals you have to negotiate outside the restaurant, the wait, the being led to another restaurant, the soapy glass, the small portions, the not so attentive waiters, and the overall feeling of dissatisfaction as you come out of the restaurant, it just didn’t give me the feeling of having just had a good meal out.

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