I’m a sucker for the sizzle of tandoori on a hot serving plate so it was no surprise that as soon I saw a Chicken Tikka starter (£3.70) coming out of the serving hatch, I’d be ordering the same myself. But for all the sizzle and smoke in New Jomuna (and there is a lot of smoke in the upper section where the food comes out) there wasn’t much taste. The chicken was tender, the marinade was red, but alas that famous tandoori taste had left the building.
Oh dear, I thought. It really takes an effort to persuade my friend who is sitting opposite me to come out for a curry – not because he doesn’t like it, it’s just that his Indian wife of many years cooks a mean curry so it’s a case of coals to Newcastle. And now, on a rare curry together we are sitting near Victoria Station surrounded by smoke and decidedly average chicken tikka. But wait, his Chicken Tikka Puri (£4.95) comes quietly to the rescue. No sizzle, no smoke, just tasty meat and fluffy bread to soak the up the sauce.
And so it was all night. For every disappointing dish there was a good one. A Chicken Korai (£6.95) with a less than ‘special sauce’ but a great sweet and spicy King Prawn Dansak (£9.95) with decent enough sized prawns. An Aloo Chana (£3.70) that seemed to forget the aloo bit but a Keema Rice (£3.10) that was piled high with keema and was almost as good as a biryani I comment.
But, oh no, I’ve mentioned the wrong thing. Don’t get my friend started on biryanis. “All that effort and nonsense about the King of Dishes. Not worth it,” he concludes. Just as well I didn’t see a biryani coming out the serving hatch when I arrived really.
New Jomuna, 74 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1DE. Tel: 020 7828 1401 or 020 7630 0238. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.