It was a sad day in the Beardsworth/Elleray/Beardsworth-Elleray household when the King Karai announced it would be closing. The first Indian restaurant that really sparked by obsession with the food and the only one that kept me coming back after the more modern restaurants (s’up East Z East) disappointed.Advertisement
Needless to say, Maharani, the new family run Indian restaurant in the same site, has a lot to live up to. Luckily, the new owners have years of experience in the kitchen that has taken them all over the world.
The changes as a result of a recent renovation are minimal to say the least. It’s easy to see why it hasn’t taken them too long to get those doors open. The front basically has a new sign, the layout is the same and, crucially, there are still booths for you to sit in.
More than a few eyebrows were raised when the restaurant stated that they’d be serving Thai and Chinese food. My immediate impression is that there’s no real presence from either cuisine on the menu at the moment. Perhaps it will come later when the clientele has been established.
The service is immediately very eager but I’d be quick to point out this was only the second day of trading for the restaurant. A little bit of inexperience was clear but it’s never a problem and actually makes you feel at home in the same way you did in the old place.
We skip poppadoms and go straight for starters. Onion bhajis are served as four smaller portions rather than two larger ones but they retain their texture and flavour. The mint sauce they are served with is thick and reliable.
The chicken wings have the little black bits that you should demand from all meat served in an Indian restaurant. Being wings, they’re obviously very tasty. The salad served with both is as forgettable as it always is.
BK (Dad, Kev, etc) opts for Tandoori Chicken as his main and is impressed enough, while noting he did prefer the one served at King Karai. He has it with mushroom rice and a phal sauce that is one of the very few sauces I’ve seen actually make an impression on him.
He’s impressed, and notes that he’ll be back, which is more than he’d say about most places.
Conversely, the Mutter Paneer Masala, ordered extra hot, is a vast improvement on the vegetarian offering from before. It’s thick, substantial, tasty and the paneer and peas offset each other in the way they should.
More: Review – we ate at the King Karai one last time
It still retains that traditional ‘curry house’ feel and it appears the cooking style, like the decor, has been tweaked rather than overhauled. It feels like the vegetarian curry the King Karai should have been doing.
So evolution rather than revolution at the Maharani. This feels like a place that has been given a touch of modernity without stripping away the character that made the King Karai so special in the first place.
On the strength of this curry, it’ll quickly become our post-football-and-beer curry house of choice. Keep it up.