Bradford’s ‘King of Curry’ Akbar’s heart of ‘Curry Capital of Britain’HALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu • Alcohol served
Curry aficionados who haven’t visited Akbar’s, let alone heard of them, may want to question their credentials, especially after digesting this review of their branch in Bradford.
Having first won the coveted ‘Curry Capital of Britain’ award back in 2004, this city isn’t just the current title holder, but has the distinction of winning the crown a record six years in succession from 2011 till 2016.
Of course, not only has Akbar’s been an integral part of this success, but has also won numerous awards itself, including ‘Brand of the Year’ at the Asian Food & Restaurant Awards in 2017.
Currently boasting nine sites across the country, from Birmingham all the way up to Glasgow, Shabir has spent the better part of two decades transforming Akbar’s into the food empire it is today.
With two sites on Bradford’s Leeds Road alone, which includes Café de Akbar, this particular one is the company’s head office and the location where it all started for a young 25-year-old Shabir, who opened a small 28-seat eatery named after his father way back in 1995.
Having since been transformed into an impressive, double-fronted, 90-cover venue (alcohol is served), with a car park conveniently located across the road, Akbar’s exciting menu has recently introduced a selection of meticulously crafted Charsi Karahi dishes, which we were here to showcase.
These mocktails won’t be winning any presentation prizes, but the young, possible make-shift, mixologist put together a trio of mocktails that would put to shame many at more higher end establishments.
With the Pina Colada managing to strike the essential balance between the sweet coconut and the gentle tanginess of the pineapple, the fresh mint in the Classic Mojito came through nicely against the lemon enhanced lemonade, whilst the berry undertone of the Strawberry Woo Woo was strong enough to counter the zinginess of the lime therein.
Firstly, a word on these starters. We were left astounded by the size of these dishes in comparison to their price point.
Just take the size of this Seekh Kebab as an example which, while literally hanging off both ends of a large plate, came in at just £4.95. Extraordinary!
This wasn’t the rubbery, reheated, rehash one encounters across so many curry houses; this was freshly made, straight out of a tandoor.
Complete with a sexy sheen; and chargrilled to a tee such that the succulent meat still retained that chew edge one looks for in beautifully spiced kebab, which, of course, this was and some.RECOMMENDED
Kudos to the grill meister who pulled out half-a-dozen, yes, half-a-dozen stupendous Meat Chops, with each one amounting to just £0.99 per chop.
In addition to those punchy Pakistani spices the country is so renowned for, these chewy-cum-tender segments showed off crispy, charred edges, with the smokiness playing its intended role. There aren’t many Pakistani restaurants that can pull off such chops. Superb!RECOMMENDED
British fish and chips take a hike. This was probably the best Pakistani Masala Fish we’ve ever had.
Thankfully, and unlike so many we’ve had over the years, this wasn’t killed twice over with an overly strong masala batter driven by an excess of those horrid coriander seeds.
Instead, the delicate masala mix allowed the distinct taste of the cod (although haddock might be served too depending on availability) to come through subtly.
The only thing this ginormous Masala Fish was screaming out for was the company of some masala chips.
A new edition to the Akbar’s menu, a traditional and authentic style of Kharai, originating from the northern frontier of Pakistan, a truly charsi (addictive) taste.
Before anything, a confession: In light of our past experiences of visiting multi-award winning curry houses only for the vast majority to be damp squibs, not only did we go in with not much expectation, but were equally fearful of the worst.
Except that after such formidable starters, and by this stage not caring much for presentation if it meant being served curries equally as epic, a gob-smacked FtLion team were now quietly optimistic.
… And that optimism was not misplaced either, because both the Charsi Lamb and its Chicken counterpart were just on another level.
In short, the tender chunks of meat respectively floated in a curry sauce whose spices, while plentiful, at no stage threatened to overwhelm the palate. Yes, there was heat, but it lingered pleasantly throughout. We could have licked this iron pan out if it wasn’t for decorum and etiquette.
We know what you’re thinking. While these warm, soft Gulab Jamon balls of saturated goodness were presented warm so as to contrast against the vanilla ice cream, we couldn’t get past the misplaced dollops of cream. It just made the entire plate all messy after melting in a hurry. Not quite.
- YES/ NO
- DISABLED FACILITIES
- CHILD SEATING
How wrong we were. By the end of the review, we exited the premises with a new found appreciation as to why Bradford has been crowned "Curry Capital of Britain" more than any other city in the country. What we'd read and heard about this place turned out to be true.
Although we only managed to sample a small part of their menu, on this occasion the newly introduced Charsi Karahi, it was evident to us that what we were told about the considerable effort and hardwork put into perfecting these dishes by owner Shabbir Hussain was, likewise, true. Given how good these new additions were, we left wondering how much better the classics on Akbar's menu would be.
It just goes to show that cutting corners in the curry industry can only get you so far.
Of course, it should go without saying that we'll be returning in a hurry; and we'd strongly urge those who haven't visited to do the same.
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