Carom Soho W1 – Fit for Indian Royalty
As a Londoner, and no less a Londoner who used to live on Brick Lane, I thought I knew of all the Indian dishes and the best Indian places to eat. Boy was I wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to re-educate your tastebuds, but be warned, you may abandon your current favourite curry joint F-O-R-E-V-E-R. I introduce you to….Carom
As we entered the restaurant my breath was taken away by seeing the gorgeous “Botanical Gin Garden, then we were lead into our dining area- intimate yet spacious with a rich magenta colour pouring into the room. This entire restaurant is gorgeous, perfect for dates, get togethers and birthdays.
If it weren’t for our lovely waitress who guided us through our menu after 20 minutes of blank stares, we probably wouldn’t have settled for the 8 dishes we had, but had everything on the menu instead.
The first dish that began the re-education of my tastebuds was the Dakshin Prawns, crispy fried tiger prawns with curried ketchup. Curried ketchup! Why did I not know that this is a thing?! And the prawns – I cannot stress how fresh they tasted and how noticeable it was that they were of top quality, perfectly seasoned with a better kick than Wayne Rooney.
The Sizzler Kebab Trio showcased how Carom only use top ingredients and know what to do with them. Lamb chop, chicken tikka and fish tikka – cooked to perfection with the meat thoroughly marinated, the juicy flesh secreting the tastes of India with each bite. It was an ideal dish to sample all of the meats and save some space in my belly for the other anticipated dishes.
Something which I personally don’t see on many menus in general is soft shell crab, or Nandu as it is called. Although fried, this dish was light and not greasy, the spices seduced my tongue and matched the original flavour of the crab perfectly. Just tearing into a crab with your bare hands and dipping it in a beautiful red sauce is so satisfying, that just that experiences made it worthwhile. And if you don’t like your food to look like the animal you’re about to eat – get over it. You’ll be happy you did.
In a basket that could was far too big to be classed as a “small plate” (that’s a good thing!) was Chilli Squid served with an addictive coriander dip. Think popcorn chicken, but with, well… squid. Fresh and delightful, I just couldn’t stop dipping as if I had OCD.
From the heaven that is Carom’s kitchen, came one of the most memorable dishes I have ever had. Ever. A dish which we wouldn’t have even ordered if it wasn’t for the advice of our fantastic waitress. The Gin Sizzler. Succulent chicken fillets flambéed with gin. The chicken didn’t actually taste of gin at all – but by flambéing it, some magical chemistry most have taken place because I can’t actually describe any further what this dish tasted like. There was one negative aspect though- that it wasn’t an endless supply.
In a rich onion, tomato and fenugreek sauce, more mouth-watering tandoori chicken was awaiting us. The Chicken Lababdar, was the only thing that vaguely reminded me of what you receive at a typical curry house, and in a good way. Mopping up that beautiful sauce with their home-made Garlic Naan, was an added bonus to enjoying the juicy and tender chicken which was soaking in it.
Usually I’m not the biggest fan of fish in sauces, (something about the fish being served in something too similar to their natural habitat) but I am delighted that we ordered the Kerala Fish Curry. We opted to have it with sea bass and the sauce was a concoction of mango, coconut and ginger. The fish flaked perfectly when cut into and once again, the high quality ingredients came together in a merry fusion of sweet and perfectly hot.
Sadly, there was one dish that didn’t live up to the same level as all the other divine dishes, and that was the Beef Uppukari, the black pepper, chilli and coriander salt was so heavily salted that it overpowered any other flavour which might have been present in the dish.
The ambience, the food and the service all came together to create an unforgettable experience (although I would like to forget about the Beef Uppukari). The dishes served took Indian cuisine as we know it to the next level, presenting traditional flavours in a modern way, tickling all of your senses and leaving you wanting more. Portion sizes are generous and each bite is delectable. This extraordinary gem in Soho has handsdown become my favourite Indian restaurant, and has ruined all other flambéed chicken out there for me.
100 Wardour Street
Written by Honey Kohan