One chill December evening, it was a cheery mob of merry OCC members who crammed themselves into the tight yet accommodating Asian Box. With a name seemly more suited to a dubious Far Eastern nightclub this unpretentious dining establishment proved a worthy locale for the Oakham Curry Club’s final soiree of 2019. There is no better way than to kick off the festive season than with a decent curry.
Serving up a variety popular Indian and Thai dishes, the Asian Box specializes in satisfying cravings for wholesome, tasty, affordable meals. The proprietor, our host, chef, waiter, and presumably pot washer, for the evening was the ever affable Bhanwar Singh.
KP, as he is better known, is a familiar face to OCC having previously worked at several OCC approved restaurants. Now a one-man show, and keen to put his wealth of experience to the test, he branched out a year ago and launched the Asian Box just south of People’s square in the heart of downtown Shanghai. Commending KP’s entrepreneurial spirit, the assembled curry enthusiasts were eager to sample all that this cozy little start-up had to offer.
A warm, friendly welcome preceded a round of Kingfishers as KP got to work preparing a feast that ably demonstrated his culinary skills.
The appetizers arrived quickly. Three dishes ranging from the well-known to the experimental. The samosas hit the mark with a subtle zest though the Pani Puri lacked the usual perfusion of tastes and flavors associated with this traditional street food stable. Rounding things off, and gamely preparing diners for the next course were the juicy chicken tikka rolls.
The mains were substantial. A seemingly endless supply of hearty dishes including such crowd-pleasers as Chicken Tikka Masala, Peneer Masala and Vegetable Palaak streamed from the kitchen along with Aloo Gobi, and the delectable Makhani and Tadka Dals. No one was going to go hungry on this night.
While all these were eminently palatable, the two stand-outs, at least for this reviewer, were the spicy and flavorsome Beef Rogan Josh and the rich and creamy Rajasthani Chicken, made with spinach and cashews. This latter dish is not on the menu, but is well worth seeking out.
With the meal drawing to a close, scoring discussions commenced. The OCC has strict criteria when deliberating the worthiness of the curry houses they frequent. The much sought after OCC approval is never a forgone conclusion, but for the Asian Box such an approval can be bestowed.
While the atmosphere did not rate highly, why would it, the Asian Box does not purport to be anything more than a restaurant to grab a quick bite, or order a take-away. In any case, who needs atmosphere when the food does the talking? And the quality was good, living up to KP’s ethos: no frills, just focus on the food.
His service was commendable despite having been let down at the last minute by his assistant. He later confided he had hoped to have been a better host, but socializing was not an option given the multitude of hats he was wearing that evening.
Nevertheless, his customer care was noted as was his hard work and desire to please, and considering the quantity and quality of food, not to mention the considerable amount of alcohol drunk, the OCC were delighted by the very reasonable final bill. High scores for value!
The verdict was unanimous, KP had excelled in offering a high quality and excellent value meal. The Asian Box is OCC approved:
Customer Care: 7.3