As the leading authority on curry happenings in Shanghai and indeed the world, the Oakham Curry club was both excited and intrigued to hear about the recent openings of two branches of Currify, a new curry house in conjunction with the bar Taoker. With some having already experienced the venue via take-away, members eagerly headed to the Taixing Lu Currify to see how it would stack up against Shanghai’s best in the race for the 2018 Curry House of the Year (CHOTY) award.
The first element we score venues on – customer care – is not just a measure of whether the venue goes the extra mile, but also how well it can bounce back from a setback. Having booked a table for 12, the first members of our party turned up and swiftly realised that the booth we were sat in would be too small for any party of 12, let alone the dozen hungry curry enthusiasts that were representing the OCC that evening.
After some discussions, though, the venue swiftly moved us to a new table, much more suitable for our group. Following that, the host was particularly attentive throughout the night; recommending dishes and assisting the OCC in performing our administrative tasks for the evening. The service likewise was prompt and on point, with our drinks replenished and meals brought out quickly for the whole evening.
Currify’s atmosphere was buoyed in part by the roaring trade it was doing on the Saturday night we attended, with almost all tables full. With high tables in the main room and booths and normal tables in the back, the restaurant is set up to cater for groups of various sizes and occasions. Having been initially sat in a cramped booth, it should be noted that the members who were sat directly under the lights were very shortly glistening with sweat before they’d even had a curry – not the usual order of events for an OCC meet. The overall score of 6.7 for atmosphere indicates that it was neither here nor there; while the seating and lighting added a nice ambience for diners, the muted Bollywood movie playing on repeat on a projector at the back of a restaurant seemed out of place, as did the strangely prevalent flies at our table.
Likewise, a score of 6.9 for quality suggests that the food was on par without being outstanding. Our evening began with onion bhajis, samosas and a meat plate. In a first for the OCC, poppadoms were nowhere to be found on the menu and had to be specially requested. Knowing the off-menu, secret dish to order at a restaurant is normally a badge of pride for locals; in this case however, we would suggest that Currify keep this treatment for the extra hot vindaloo rather than a staple food like poppadoms.
The mains of a kidney bean curry, lamb masala, chicken tikka masala and tandoori fish were similarly fine without being exceptional. Although the lamb and chicken were well-received, the kidney bean curry was felt to be somewhat lacklustre, while the fish lacked any real punch of flavour.
What brought the evening together for the venue and boosted its final overall score was the value. Members had a feeling they were on to something special when we were informed at the beginning of the night that Currify had a two for one deal on the OCC’s preferred serving size of beer – towers. With a number of these consumed throughout the night, along with more than enough food for our table of 13, the total bill came to 240 RMB per person. With many equivalent sized meals setting members back 300-400 RMB, Currify’s value score of 8.5 is well deserved.
Overall, Currify’s efforts in value and its consistency in all other areas has earnt it a venue average of 7.3. While this is not high enough to make a serious push for the 2018 CHOTY, it is enough to earn itself a coveted sticker for being an OCC approved restaurant. While it may not provide a truly exceptional curry experience, we are happy to recommend Currify, particularly for diners looking for a well-priced curry in a nice location that does the basics right.