A little while ago I made a post on The Great Surbiton Curry Debate where I ran through all of the local Indian hostelries and attempted to reach a conclusion. It was a heavily qualified cop out conclusion to be fair, but I did allude to a new Indian opening in Claygate.
Rasoy (no functioning website at the time of writing) replaces an Indian that previously occupied the same place, one which I never had the opportunity to visit. It’s been redone on the inside and that’s the first problem. It is laid out a lot like Panshi in Hinchley Wood – in a square; this has the effect of nullifying the atmosphere somewhat and is a disappointment. Whilst this is 50% because of the shape of the dining area, it’s also 50% a lack of creativity.
Anyway, poppadums are warm and freshly cooked with an interesting array of chutneys; Cobra is on tap and well kept and chilled. Things are on the up. The selection of starters is one of the most unique and eclectic I have come across in almost any curry house I care to think of, which is a huge plus.
I had something a cannot remember the name of, which was chicken tikka coated in sag aloo and then breadcrumbed and fried. Utterly fantastic idea, delicately spiced and cooked well. My friend had a mango shish kebab (called something else) which was also delightful – mango infused meat is a trend on the rise and is a welcome one.
Brilliant so far. The quality and the creativity of the food outweighing the lack of atmosphere. Unfortunately, that was as good as it was going to get. My Lamb Handi was very underspiced – that’s not to say lacking in chilli, but lacking in all the other flavours that should make it up too. Whilst you could clearly taste the lamb (a good thing), which was nice and tender, that was the dominant flavour by a long way. It is almost as if they had used up all their bravery and creativity in the starters. My friend’s chicken dhansak was a similar story; great bits of tender chicken, lovely dhall flavour, but missing the real overtones of sweet and sour and a kick at the end you’d expect in a shining example of this dish. Again, that’s not to say this is a level of heat preference, whilst that’s one part of it, there were many other flavours held back on here.
Oh, and they failed the tarka dhall test – what arrived following my usual discussion with the waiter on how I like it (i.e. how it is meant to be done) worries me; this allegedly garlicked up version was as I have found it as standard in places scared to do it properly, which makes me fear for other diners having what could only be a lentil soup!
None of this is beyond recovery; they have good fundamentals in their staff and service, the best array of starters I have ever seen in an Indian restaurant of its class, but unless they nudge their chef into being less stingy with his spice mixes, then my conclusion is going to have to be to have your first course here, then nip around to the Gufaa Raja for the rest.