If you don`t have time to read this post, do yourself a favour: pick up the phone, book a table and head down to Kingston to give this place a try.
If you do have time – here`s why:
I live in Fulham – not a million miles from Kingston, but not exactly what I`d call close to it either. Imagine my surprise, then, when I arrived at Roz Ana within half an hour of leaving my front door – a darn sight sooner than if I`d headed into town! (I saved the environment and took the 85 bus from Putney Bridge tube station. Easy.)
Having prepared the palette with a pint or two of the local landlord`s finest lager (please understand, we had to find some way to spend the extra time we`d allowed for the journey!), my old friend Paul and I headed into the restaurant (I don`t see Paul very often – mainly because he lives… err… so far away in Kingston!!).
As we walked through Roz Ana`s entrance, two things immediately struck me – firstly, the restaurant is quite large, which if anything made it seem rather empty, in spite of the fact that there were already a few diners there (on a Monday night). Secondly, I was surprised to be greeted by a very smiley, attractive, European waitress, who took our coats and showed us to our seats. She placed us at a snug table by the window, which instantly removed the feeling of emptiness. Already I had the impression that this wasn`t your everyday curry house.
Now don`t get me wrong – I have nothing against traditional curry houses. In fact, I love them. The difference is, if I want a Chicken Tikka Dhansak (which I order with shameless regularity), I`ll go to the place just around the corner. I know they serve Cobra (my favourite Indian lager), I know their Dhansak is good and I know it`s only a 3-minute walk from my home. If Roz Ana offered something similar, I could see no reason to jump back on the 85.
But Roz Ana does not offer something similar. It is not an everyday curry house. It is an Indian restaurant, which serves, it would transpire, some of the most delicious, interesting food I`ve had the pleasure of reviewing. Roz Ana is well worth travelling to.
Once our Cobras were ordered (tick), we chose to let the restaurant staff choose our food for us. This turned out to be a stroke of genius. To start we were served the Chef`s Sampler Plate for two AND Coconut Soft Shell Crab. Slightly greedy, yes, but well worth making room for. The sampler plate included Shahi Salmon, Chicken Malai Tikka, lamb chop and Amritsari Fish. Each item tasted very different – both from the other items on the plate and from most Indian food I`ve had before – but they complemented each other very well. Nevertheless, it was the Soft Shell Crab that really stole my heart. Cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious. I could have eaten it for main course as well.
To follow, we tried three options from the `Chef`s Signature Dishes`. The slow-pot-roasted Lamb Nalli was a little rich for my taste but that couldn`t have made Paul any happier – he destroyed it! We also had Pork Belly Vinha d`alhos – Roz Ana`s take on vindaloo. Now, I would normally steer clear of both vindaloo and pork belly – I like the food to be cooked, not my mouth and I`m not usually a fan of such fatty cuts of meat. But this was special and there wasn`t a scrap left on either plate. For both of us, though, it was the third dish that took the prize – Chicken Tikka Laphroaig Masala. Some of you may recognise `Laphroaig` – it`s a very peaty Scotch whisky and not something I would have anticipated working well in a curry. I would have been wrong. The slightly smokey flavour of the single malt gives the dish a mouthwateringly aromatic edge. This inventiveness, I`m told, is typical of this chef.
Although we let the restaurant choose what we ate, I really liked Roz Ana`s menu. It offers an excellent selection without overwhelming you with too much choice (a trap many Indian restaurants seem to fall into) and, when asked, the restaurant serving staff aren`t afraid to make recommendations.
To be perfectly honest, if this restaurant was in Covent Garden, they`d have people queuing along the street every night. The chef, Deepinder Sondhi, is truly a star in the making (indeed, in India, he was Head Chef at Delhi`s Chor Bizarre, voted one of India`s best restaurants). He shows huge passion in his food and in the success of Roz Ana.
The only problem I could see was the price. No, not too expensive – too cheap. While Roz Ana establishes a name for itself outside of Kingston, the menu has been priced to appeal to the locals. My advice to any locals or non-locals? Get in there now and take full advantage!
Roz Ana caters for both eating in and taking away and is situated on Kingston Hill – walking distance from the southern point of Richmond Park.
Written by Jim Green, Managing Director of DNA Advertising Ltd.
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