For the very brief time we had in London I was glad we had a chance to catch up with our old flatmate from Pyrmont days. Vivacious Miss T lived with us for a while when she came to Oz and now that she's back living in London it was good to catch up on her turf, as well as meet her man. Seeing she works in Canary Wharf I researched a place for dinner many months prior and decided upon this, Mirch Masala. With all its popularity, Brick Lane and its plethora of Indian eateries isn't too far away but seeing we ate there on our last trip, it was time for another location. Hence this place on Commercial Road.
It's not the most glamorous of locations but the only thing that mattered when Mr K and I arrived was there was an off licence selling (not-so-cold) vino a few doors down the road. Yee-ha, a restaurant we can BYO. And it's halal. Halal in Sydney usually means "leave your booze outside".
The restaurant was relatively absent of people when we arrived yet there seemed to be a very eager bunch of waiters itching for something to do. "Anyone feel like they're being watched?" I think I counted about five of them. I've got to say, this is far from being a crisp linen kind of place, with laminex tables and all. I guess that's why taxi drivers drop in for a late night feed.
We all just go for it and choose a selection of things that sound appealing on the menu. There's a heavy presence of karahi dishes available - curries cooked in a deep wok-like pan - plus a nice choice of grilled meats and seafood. Our seekh kebab (£1.8) and grilled lamb chops (£6.5) arrive on a sizzling hotplate, smelling all charred and delicious. The meat is pretty tender, well seasoned and the kebab is on the arid side of the moisture scale. Loved the onions slowly caramelising underneath.
The garlic naan (£1.5) is nothing too special and lacks the blisters and chewiness I'm well-used to with this kind of bread. However, the garlic dish that had me ungracefully slurping away was the garlic mussels (£5) wading shell-deep in ghee and a few bits of tomato and capsicum. Gosh. I was in buttery bad-breath heaven.
The onion bhajia (£2.5) came looking like a nest rather than a few cakes of spiced fried onion (East London style?) but it was perfect greasy finger food, even with the NZ sauvignon blanc that Miss T brought in.
I found the karahi chicken (£6.5) on the ordinary side and the lamb saag (£7) didn't meet Mr K's (the lamb saag barometer) expectations. I found it very tasty, despite the few gristly bits. Somehow, through all the chatting, I forgot to take pics of the karahi king prawns and chicken tikka masala and to be honest I don't remember tasting them. I do, however, remember eyeing off the sizzling plate of fish going to a neighbouring table. It looked and smelled sensational.
I guess that will have to wait until next time.Mirch Masala111-113 Commercial RoadTower Hamlets E1 1020 7377 01557 days 12 noon-12 midnightmirchmasalarestaurant.co.uk