When it comes to Indian food, I have to admit, I’m embarrassingly basic. I never tend to stray from the BYOBs of Brick Lane, from the restaurants that shout you down with discounts and deals, the well-made authentic dishes (and not-so-great ones) you find. And although yes, you can get some delicious Indian eats there, I sometimes feel like I should leave the tourist-friendly pavements of East London and explore some of the city’s other offerings. Like Anokha.
Anokha isn’t obvious as you walk along the street. In fact, we nearly missed it. The front door is unassuming, but inside? It’s a whole different story. Sumptuous jewel colours, tiled floor and hanging lamps lead the way into the main underground dining room. It’s a really lovely interior – and thankfully, most of the food we had lived up to the first impression.
I’m pretty sure the rules of going to an Indian restuarant state you have to say yes when asked ‘Poppadoms?’, right? So obviously, we had some to snack on while we flicked through the menu. It’s basically rude not to.
Anokha’s onion chutney is something to write home about, and it had us immediately asking the waiting staff how it was made. With the onion pieces in a sticky, sweet sauce, this isn’t your standard curryhouse chutney – and we raved to the staff about it so much, they brought out a second pot…
To start off, we chose the Mixed Platter (£8.95 per person, min. 2 people). The platter consists of one piece each of vegetable samosa, paneer tikka, pakora, sheek kebab and chicken tikka. The chicken and pakora were superb, and although the paneer and sheek didn’t exactly blow my mind, they were still enjoyable enough, if slightly lacking in flavour. The vegetable samosas were a good size, and well-crisped as I bit into them. In all, the starter platter wasn’t bad, but didn’t overwhelm me with excitement either.
Thankfully, the main courses well and truly made up for the starters.
Whenever I go for Indian food, I’m all about the lamb. Perhaps because I rarely eat lamb, or perhaps because when it’s good in Indian food, it’s pretty phenomenal. Thankfully, Anokha’s Lamb Special (£14.95) fulfilled my high hopes, offering delicate, tender meat in a bowl of spices, onion, and vegetable. On the heat level, it was actually relatively mild, although on a taste level? It definitely blew me away. Served with a layer of bread over the top and perfect with pilau rice (£3.45), this is one of the best Indian dishes I’ve ever eaten.
I also got a taste of the Adraki Chilli Gosht (£14.95), which had more of a kick to it and was really enjoyable. I preferred my own dish, but I’d also have happily chowed down on this one too – and it worked really well with the pretty huge Garlic Naan (£3.50). I’ll just say, it’s a good job we only got one to share…
Anokah’s Onion Bhajis aren’t just any old onion bhajis. Oh hell no. Rather than a tightly packed ball of deep fried onion, this one’s deconstructed and HUGE. They’re beautifully crispy, with thin cut onions that maximise the amount of crunchy exterior. If you go to Anokha, you HAVE to order one of these.
Despite the starters not particularly wow-ing me, the food overall at Anokha was really, really good. These guys know how to work with spice to create flavour, not just heat, and their onion bhaji is unique and delicious – I’d go back for one of those alone! Adding to this the decor, intimate ambience and attentive staff, I’d go so far as to say this is likely my favourite Indian restaurant in London that I’ve experienced to date. High praise, well-deserved. I’m a fan.
2 Creechurch Ln, London EC3A 5AY
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