Anokha (Indian) – City of London
Anokha is a well established, award-winning Indian eatery that’s located around the corner to the City of London’s famous Gherkin Tower and a brisk stroll from Lloyds Tower.
The 130-cover restaurant is “located in a grade II listed historic building, which was originally two of London’s last remaining tea warehouses, completed in 1729 and first owned by the infamous East India Tea Company”.
There’s plenty of pictures of celebrities and other important clientele who’ve visited over the past decade (yes, decade) adorning the stairway on your way down to the dining room in the basement.
And once you’ve arrived, there’s no denying this venue’s style and decor, particularly with the level of detail and thought that’s gone into its sophisticated interior.
The menu offers a range of traditional dishes representing a large swathe of provinces across India, making it a very interesting one.
Although there is a large alcohol bar, this is situated on one side of the restaurant, with plenty of seating on the other.
These lassis were passable, with the best being the mango, which was nice and sweet, and fuller in thickness than the other two.
As for the sweet, then although decent, its salty counterpart could have done with being more saltier.
Despite such a huge alcohol bar, it was unfortunate to see an absence of real options available for teetotallers in the form of mocktails and the like.
This Tandoori Platter was presented simply enough. Alongside the assortment of meats and seafood, there was also a simple salad that acted as a meaningful foil to all that flesh.
The seekh kebab, though not as good texturally speaking, with two Lions preferring this to have been more charred, was better, thanks to the delicate spices being well complimented by the smokiness that came through, when it came to flavour.
As for the chicken tikka, then we enjoyed its tandoori-ness, if you will, as well as its mellow flavours and spices.
Both the prawn and salmon were expertly executed – the former being tender and juicy (pity there was only one) – and both being subtly marinated.
The Vegetarian Platter was nowhere near as good as its meaty cousins. The best thing here was easily the onion bhajee, though more on that below.
With a light crispy batter, the aloo tikka, while okay, required some more seasoning. The paneer tikka was fantastically cooked being as soft as you’d want it. Sadly, however, it was rather tasteless.
And finally the vegetable samosa was standard having a thin, ultra-crispy pastry.RECOMMENDED
Yup; we fully appreciate why this Onion Bhajee, which is quite unlike any onion bhajee we’ve ever had, is such a popular one.
The onions were really crispy, with a lightly spiced batter, a tad oily, but extremely addictive. It may look like a big plate full, but once you start, you’ll be done in no time.
This Bhindi Bhajee seemed a busy plate; but truth be told, it was plain and uninspired.
Non-oily, crispy papadums paired up with a mango chutni, a mint sauce with a touch of sweetness perhaps, a gooey mango sauce, and a tangy onion relish that was good.
We had the exclusive privilege of trying Anokha’s latest menu item only just introduced this week – a dum biryani.
Add to that the restaurant environment, and the single most important problem to contend with, made worse by a slow turnover, is whether its freshness can be maintained over a period of time. How often are biryanis presented reheated only for the rice to be somewhat stale? As we said, notoriously difficult.
With that said, this Shahi Gosht Biryani is a tremendous addition to the London biryani scene.
As one Lion noted: “Wow! That’s superb!” The fragrant rice was separate, distinct and beautifully cooked. The masala, sufficiently coating the utterly tender chunks of lamb beneath, was superbly judged, impressively balanced, and offering good heat to warrant the cooling effect of the yoghurt accompaniment. Fresh-tasting, delicious and our dish of the review.
What defines this Kombdi Rassa is its central pillar, the chicken, which was cooked bang on and so soft that it practically fell off the bone.
As for its attractive blood-orange curry, then this was so soothingly mellow that the masala had a satisfying warmth to it, with perhaps a hint cardamom in the background. Superb!
While the lamb in this Lal Maas wasn’t as well cooked as the chicken, its curry was thicker than the Rassa, with greater heat to it.
But if this is Rajasthani in origin, then we were expecting stronger heat and more robust spices and flavours. In short, it’s good for what it is; but unconvinced of its Rajasthani roots.
Similar to the seafood had above, the chef presented us jumbo prawns expertly cooked, and mixed in a textured-curry whose heat, courtesy of the green chillies, hit you in a hurry before gradually building thereafter.
With the large chunks of onions and cherry tomatoes assuring a contrastive sweet undertone, as well as soft baby potatoes, this Badshah Bhag was easily the hottest of all the dishes had on the evening.
The accompanying sauce had good body to it, was herby, with almost a hint of sweetness to it.
Add to that the medley of small ptatoes, peppers and onions, and this turned out to be a pleasant plate of food.
RICE & BREADS
Delicious sweet Peshawari Nan, that had a nice crispy exterior, was well buttered, and sprinkled in sesame seeds.
Nicely puffed up garlic bread which had the garlic coming through strongly; but could have been slightly crispier.
Nothing special this. The mince therein was fairly bland and uninspiring. Go for the Peshwari, we say.
It is what it is!
It was obvious that this had just been pulled out of a rather cold refrigerator.
In any case, the meringue itself, which we think was pistachio-based, had a nice crispy exterior and offered a lightly chewy interior, all of which served as a nice textural contrast.
Today, this playful Pyramid of a bygone era comes across as amusingly camp.
Having said that though, it was nicely executed, at least on the outside, with a mellow white chocolate taste.
However, the cake therein was, again, fairly cold and rather dense in nature. Having said that though, this was the second best of the three.
The recurring problem of it being cold resulted in an extremely dense dome.
With a cocoa-dusted exterior, it had an equally hard biscuit base.
This could have been good had it been presented at room temperature. As it stood though, our preference would be the Raspberry Meringue.
And some English tea always goes down well after a spicy feast.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED ACCESS
- ANOKHA DISCOUNT CARD
While duck here isn't always Halal, dependent as it is on the supplier, it's perhaps a good idea if you're after one, to call ahead. Having said that though, all Halal dishes are prepped and cooked separately.
By and large, the dishes were really well executed, with one or two outstanding ones. Kudos to the chef for introducing only this week such a superb dum biryani to the menu.
And a word on the service too, which was exemplary, with well regimented staff who struck the perfect balance between proactivity and intrusiveness.
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