ZeeZain (Indian) – Kensington, London
FtL readers may recall that ZeeZain restaurant just recently opened last month in the busy restaurant district of South Kensington.
The place itself also has a modern feel to it, with 12 outdoor tables intended for the introduction of shisha, along with a total indoor seating capacity of 60, which includes a basement room for 20 – to be completed in 2-3 weeks time – that can also be hired for private occasions.
The interior decor is quite impressive, with the owner having successfully restored the building’s original 200-year-old wooden beams, as well as the original brick work.
While an alcohol bar is located therein, the restaurant says it’ll soon be introducing mocktails to its drinks menu.
Otherwise, not only is the meat said to be HMC-sourced, but the owner will generously offer up the room downstairs for Muslims wanting to observe their prayers, subject to availability.
KEBABS & TIKKAS
It’s always nice to see some thought put into the presentation of any mixed grill. This Tandoori Mixed Grill of The Day will be subject to the selection of meats available on the day. What we were served were kebabs, chicken tikka, paneer and lamb chops.
In this order, the finely spiced kebabs, though beautifully soft and tender, with a hint of smokiness in the background, were screaming out to be properly charred and broiled.
As for the paneer, then this had an interestingly light achar flavour, was relatively soft, had a nicely charred exterior, but ultimately lacked depth.
The weakest of the bunch was the chicken which, despite some good charring, scarcely had any seasoning or spice to it.
The strongest, however, were easily the French-cut lamb chops. As delicate as you’d want; tenderly pink on the inside; beautifully marinated in a semi-dry yoghurt marinade; and wonderfully broiled; the heat from these gently lingered on the palate.
To be honest, you might want to just consider the Tandoori Lamb Chops for £12.50 over this mixed grill.
The subtly spiced, soft and succulent chicken, with the crispiness of the char lending a touch of smokiness, was simply covered in some ketchup and mayo, before being wrapped up in freshly made, warm bread, and presented with a bowl of subtly sweet yoghurt mixed with cumin seeds.
Had together, this was an honest wrap, without being anything spectacular.
The Paneer Cottage Cheese Tikka Wrap had a nice firmness to it and some heat; but again came alive with the accompanying yoghurt dip.
CURRY & BIRYANI
If only restaurants could do their biryanis half as good as ZeeZain’s. The difference here was that theirs came out tasting so fresh and full of flavour, while wondrously enhanced by the yoghurt mint and pomegranate raita.
The combination of the tender lamb, which itself was properly marinated, thereby adding that extra depth, and masala-coated rice made this such an incredible bowl of pleasurable goodness. Our dish of the review!
The Chicken Biryani wasn’t as concentrated in its spiciness as its cousin, but it was still a very tasty eat in its own right.
When you order a classic butter chicken, you expect it to be well balanced, at the very least, and nothing less than silkily buttery.
ZeeZain’s version, however, while the chicken was gorgeously tender and the consistency good, was tomato-based to such an extent that it culminated in a bizarre tangy aftertaste, which one Lion said was “a little sickening by the end of it all”. This needs to be revisited.
It’s true that the spinach in this attractively vibrant green curry was beautifully ground down, rich, buttery, and fresh tasting, but its biggest shortcoming was its apparent lack of spices. What this needed was something extra to really give it a lift.
Nevertheless, the ginger strips did compensate somewhat in this regard, with pieces of paneer lending some much needed texture.
This Kashmiri Lamb Shank Rogan Josh certainly gave the Lamb Biryani a run for its money.
While the curry base was well balanced, with its mellow spicy sweetness superbly offset by the heat of the garam masala, the lamb shank wasn’t quite falling off the bone as we would have hoped for. Instead, it was tender and chewy in places, and quite fatty in others. Overall, a soothingly good dish.
Skin-on new potatoes covered in a strong, spicy masala is what made this Dum Aloo dish such a tremendous little side dish.
In fact, this was so good, that we reckon this could stand on its own merit as a starter. A must try!
If looks good kill, this Dal Maharani would succeed. In spite of its thick, creamy consistency however, it lacked any real flavour and spice, which was a big let down.
RICE & BREADS
Fantastic naans that were extremely crispy, with satisfying crunchy bits to em.
Again, perfectly done; except that the plain is the same price as the garlic and coriander!
Same roti used for the aforementioned wraps. Made fresh and quite good.
This Ghulab Jamon dessert actually came out warmed through to the point that the syrup was fairly hot, though not in an unpleasant way.
Soft and well saturated, the balls were a satisfying end to the review.
Not sure about this Fruit Salad. The melons were hard and unappealing, and the mango slices just that, slices. Save your money or opt for the above.
These lassis need some serious TLC if they’re going to be taken seriously.
While these were of a decent enough consistency, the sweet was barely so, lacking in flavour, while its salty counterpart was entirely weak and insipid.
This rich, silky-creamy Masala Chai was perfectly balanced, with the cardamom coming through tenderly, and the sweetness just right.
What a way to end the night! Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended.
- YES/ NO
- ALCOHOL & SHISHA SERVED
- PRAYER FACILITIES
- 25% STUDENT DISCOUNT
The service has definitely been thought out in that, while the kitchen is downstairs, they've installed a food lift for fast, efficient delivery.
In addition, the restaurant has gone out of its way to install one of those convenient WuduMates in its lavatories, as well as offering up its downstairs room for prayer, when available.
Currently, ZeeZain is running a fantastic lunch time deal of any wrap and fizzy drink for just £3.95!
NOTE: According to the menu: "12.5% service charge will be added to the total amount of the bill," which appears non-negotiable!
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