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The Indian Kitchen Zhenming Road, Wujiachung

In its pursuit of the perfect Indian meal, the Shanghai branch of the Oakham Curry Club has frequented over 40 curry housessince its foundation in 2016. The worthiness of each restaurantis rated according to a strict criterion to provide the discerning public with a fair and balanced assessment of food quality, service, customer care, atmosphere and value.

In most cases, harmony reigns with little scoring variance amongst OCC members. This was not the case at the August meet; a palpable hint of dissonance being all too evident. Which eatery caused such debate and difference of opinion? Read on…

It was a busy Friday night for the staff of the Indian Kitchen on Zhenming Road. While not quite heaving, there were plenty of diners celebrating the end of the week with a spot of gastronomy from the sub-continent. Smiling chefs toiling good-naturedly over hot stoves were readily observable through the kitchen window while the lone waiter nimbly navigated the dining area delivering orders to expectant customers.

This unpretentious establishment offers an extensive menu catering to all tastes and cravings. Its well-appointed tables and spacious lay-out affords a bright, comfortable dining experience. Bollywood music videos emanating from a flat-screen TV provide some degree of atmosphere though this could beenhanced by unmuting the volume. As a service to those weak bowels, it should be noted that bathroom facilities are not on-site, but can be found three doors down at a local bar.

Despite the weather, the OCC turnout was good. 15 members made the trek north to Wujiaochung each eager to discover whether this Indian Kitchen would match the culinary prowess of its 2018 Curry House of the Year (CHOTY) award winning sister branch on Hongmei Road. A copy of the certificate displayed prominently on the wall drew appreciative comment from the OCC.

Warmly greeted at the door, our waiter had the wet and bedraggled OCC members quickly seated and in no time the first round of drinks had arrived.

For the British, a cold, crisp lager is an essential pairing with any curry and is especially welcome on a hot, damp evening. Alas, such libations were not to be. The lifeless, musty pints of Tiger that arrived failed to refresh nor revive. A quiet word, and chilled bottles of Tsingtao were hastily produced. Disaster averted, but a disappointing start to proceedings.

With conversation flowing as liberally as the now palatable beers, the meal was ordered. To loosely borrow from the immortal bard, “If curry be the food of love, give me excessive of it.” And so it was that the appetite was surfeited. Nobody was leaving hungry on this night as our sprightly server brought dish after dish in quick succession.

For some, the appetizers were an enjoyable assortment to whet the palette though it was remarked that the chicken tikka lacked succulence, the poppadums had a slightly burnt piquancy and the onion pakora, when they arrived, were over cooked. The vegetable samosas, on the other hand were pleasingly flaky and had a detectable spiciness that was appreciated.

No less than seven dishes made up the main course with a delicious accompaniment of garlic and cashew naan. Highly recommended. Debate raged as to which of the curries was the best. There were those who sided, inexplicably, with the unremarkable vindaloo, while others preferred the rather insipid dahl.  For this reviewer, it was the rich and creamy, flavor-infused butter chicken masala that was the stand-out dish of the evening.

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so palatability is in the mouth of the consumer. What is considered outstanding by one, may be abhorred by another. Taste is subjective thing, and, in the end, what does it matter who liked what as long as everyone has leaves happy and satiated.

Some dishes were certainly better than others, and it was this inconsistency that ultimately swayed the voters. Had the beer been fresh, the meat less stringy, and kinder scoring by one particularly harsh critic, perhaps the Indian Kitchen on Zhenming Road would have received OCC approval. As it was, this highly coveted accolade was missed by a narrow margin. It was a fine evening nevertheless and the OCC wish to thank the team at Indian Kitchen. We look forward to our next visit and hope to bestow an OCC endorsement on that occasion.

Customer care: 6.5

Service: 6.5

Value: 6.9

Quality: 6.5

Atmosphere: 6.3

Total: 6.5


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