London, Restaurants
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Tamarai, Drury Lane

When War Horse first opened at the New London theatre, I was desperate to go. But for some reason or other I never made it. Fast forward almost three years and I had almost forgotten that the production was still running. That was until last week when I visited a Tamarai restaurant a few doors down on Drury Lane. Feeling slightly envious as I walked past the crowd of theatre goers, I walked into Tamarai and down the stairs into the dimly lit restaurant where my friend was waiting for me at the table, fanning herself manically. For a mid January evening, it was mild outside and rather hot inside.

I was at Tamarai to try out the £15 for three courses set menu. Usually when I see such an offer, I recoil and attempt to avoid at all costs but after some hardcore investigation (ten minutes on google), I was convinced to try it. So I did. And it was really rather good.

The waiters are the shy but efficient and extremely pleasant kind and were over straight away to take our orders. First thing was first, a cocktail. We both chose the Citrus Fling (£9), a fruity and sweet muddle of lemongrass vodka, lime, green tea cordial and cherry liquor. To our delight, they arrived ice cold and very alcoholic, whilst being almost too easy to sip back. You know, the kind that makes your ears feel hot after a couple of sips.

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For starter, I chose the Chettinad fish 65 with tomato pickle mayo and my friend the steamed chicken dim sum. I was very tempted by the Duke of Berkshire pork belly for main but was slightly sceptical as it wasn’t the most authentic sounding dish, considering we were dining in a pan Asian restaurant, so instead I chose the Thai green chicken curry. My friend went for the black tiger prawns, a dish that I avoid like the plague after seeing my boyfriend with food poisoning after eating tiger prawns a few years ago.

The starters were small but very enjoyable. My South Indian Chettinad style fish had a subtle spice, the batter crispy and not too oily. My friends dumplings were also delicious and upon first bite, I was transported straight back to Hong Kong where I had fresh delicious Dim Sum a plenty back in October.

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The mains arrived, each with a small bowl of steamed Jasmine rice. The Thai green curry was very creamy with just the right amount of spice. The chicken was tender and I polished the whole lot off pretty quickly. The prawns, I am told, were very good. The portion was small but I was glad. The amount of times I have left a restaurant after eating three large courses and feeling ill for the rest of the evening are countless.

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For dessert, both of us ordered sticky toffee pudding with galangal glaze and banana ice cream. Again, the portion was small but it was just enough to satisfy my post dinner sweet tooth. I couldn’t detect any banana in the ice cream, which was a shame, but the pudding itself was sticky and sweet – just perfect.

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Tamarai is an interesting establishment. The décor is dark and glitzy and we both agreed that we felt like we had been transported back to a the 90s, or that we were extras in an episode of Sex and the City. I was half expecting to see young girls with sky scraper heels and impossibly short skirts grinding to 50 Cent on the roped off dancefloor in the corner. But instead what I saw were couples of similar ages and a couple of large groups, all quietly enjoying their dinner. Perhaps the short skirts make an appearance late night.

I’m not saying that this was the best pan Asian food that I have ever eaten, because it wasn’t. And I probably wouldn’t go back for a full priced meal, but I’ll say it again, the three course meal for £15 is very good value.

Food For Think was a guest at Tamarai.

167 Drury Lane
London
WC2B 5PG
020 7831 9399
Tamarai on Urbanspoon

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