Review: Zaika, Kensington
Style Points: 5/5
Zaika is the sister restaurant to Michelin-starred and a favourite of mine Tamarind, this meant I had high expectations when I visited. Recently revamped and refurbished, Zaika is located in a wood panelled former bank. Adorned in silk drapes and antiques Zaika certainly is an impressive restaurant, to the extent that the high ceiling and dark furnishings give it almost a stern imposing feel.
However the friendly service quickly raised spirits and the staff dealt effectively with the couple of full glasses I managed to knock over with my bag as I sat down (oops!).
Would I Want Seconds?
We were presented with crispy papad and two stunning chutneys which wet our appetites for our order! For my starter I ordered samosa chaat which arrived as warm samosas covered in spiced chickpeas, yogurt and generous helping of tamarind chutney adding a delicious tang. My dining companion tried the fish cakes which were not as well presented but tasted just as good.
For my main course I choose the paneer tikka masala which is served in a creamy tomato sauce which my dining companion choose the lamb dumplings with onion sauce and spinach rice. These were both served with tadka dal and a choice of basmati rice or tandoori bread, which I found very strange all other Indian restaurants I have been to offer both as standard rather than giving a choice between them. Additionally, if diners didn't choose the rice then they would still be given the tadka daal but have nothing to eat it with.
But this didn’t cause us too much concern as there was plenty of food on the table for us and there was still dessert to go! Dessert was certainly the most spectacular course and it was clear that the head chef Sanjay Gour has a background as a patisserie chef as my coconut posset mousse served with coconut ice cream looked and tasted stunning. The delicate flavour of the coconut meant I could have easily eaten another plate full. The mango kulfi served with mango puree was also delicious and served in an impressively photogenic manner.
Could I Afford Seconds?
We were very pleased and very full by the end of our lunch, especially as we had ordered from the set lunch menu costing £21.50 per person for three courses.
It seems the set menus at Zaika are definitely the right way to try a variety of dishes without spending too much on them. As well as the lunch menu they also have a pre and post-theatre menu offering three courses for £26.50 and for those want to try a feast of flavours, there is also a khazana menu with 5 courses for £55. Ordering the same dishes from the a la carte menu would add much to much more and so the set menus are best option price wise.
Zaika isn’t a Indian restaurant that is chasing fads or trends, instead its focus on north Indian Mughal cuisine is its stand out factor. The service here is also impressive and slick, but a part of me still prefers Zaika’s sister restaurant Tamarind.
Address: 1 Kensington High St, London W8 5NP
Closest Tube Station: High Street Kensington