Things the UK does better than the US: Fish and chips, pubs, restaurants that serve game meat and, of course, Indian food. As an American, I always try to have at least one place in reserve for all of these categories for when I have visiting friends. Inevitably, one of these places comes up as somewhere a visitor wants to go, and often with me, so I want to make sure that the food is fantastic. I had a go-to Indian for when people were visiting, but unfortunately, it’s taken a bit of a turn for the worse, so when some friends wanted to get Indian with us, I took a punt on Rasa W1. (And it’s now become my new go-to for out of town visitors).
On a recent visit, some friends from NYC were visiting, and they wanted some good Indian food, so I took them back to Rasa. One of the things I really enjoy about it is that they have two different feasts on the menu: A vegetarian for £22.50pp and a non-veg for £30pp. For visitors, it makes ordering food incredibly simple, as they bring out a massive selection of snacks, starters, curries/breads/rice and finally a dessert. And the price isn’t ridiculous either, as most people seem to just jump right on board. The other reason I enjoy it is that there’s always something on the menu that jumps out at someone, and they’re really willing to work on including it into your meal, whether it’s a starter or a main. That way you still feel like you’ve got a say in what you eat, but there’s still a selection of things you probably wouldn’t have tried on your own.
We ordered the non-veg feast, and one of them really wanted to try the Crab Thoran which is a crab dish stir-fried with coconut, ginger and mustard seeds, so we requested to have that added to the feast. I also have been dying to try out their Dosa, so we ordered the masala Dosa in addition to the feast. We also ordered a bottle of wine, as they also have a surprisingly decent wine selection available. They brought out some snacks to have with our wine, and everyone happily jumped in. It’s a selection of five different crunchy snacks with six different chutneys to dip into. I really do love the coconut chutney, but all of them go well with the snacks.
Our starters ended up being the Crab Thoran with a lamb puff and a samosa. I’m a huge fan of samosas, so I always love seeing them come out. And these ones are really quite good. The spicy sauce accompanying it really just enhances the samosa to a special level. And the lamb puffs are spectacular as well. You get a great bit of lamp inside some puff pastry, and really those are two of my favorite things. And the Crab Thoran? Delicious. It was an inspired choice by my friend.
After the starters, the food really started coming out. You get quite a bit of food for £30pp, and it never seems like we can eat it all. We were given four different curries (a chicken korma, a spicy lamb curry, another chicken curry and some fish curry), two different rices, spicy potatoes and paratha (which is my favorite Indian flatbread) and chapati to go with. It really just filled up the table with food. But then the dosa arrived (and I was worried they had forgotten it!), so we barely had room for anything on the table as the dosa is massive.
And the food is all really good. I mean, some of it isn’t amazing (like the korma, I mean it’s a korma right? and the boiled rice), but as a selection goes, you get a lot of tasty stuff. My two favorites are definitely the lamb curry (nice and rich as a lamb curry should be) and the fish curry (as the subtle spicing goes well with the fish). The potatoes are also delicious. The dosa was a real winner for me, as it has some nice sides, but I would prefer to have all the chutneys from the beginning of the meal as it reminds me of how I was served my dosas in Chennai. Needless to say we didn’t manage to finish everything, but we gave it a good effort! Finally the dessert arrived. I’m not even sure what it was (kesari perhaps), but it reminded me of a mango bread pudding. It was incredibly tasty, and we somehow managed to find room to finish it.
My friends were incredibly happy with the food at Rasa. One of them swore he didn’t even like Indian food as the places he ate at in the US weren’t that good. I think I may have made him a convert. Which is good, as his wife was really trying to get him to try more places where they live. I definitely think Rasa will continue to be my go-to place to bring visiting friends and family, as the food is always really well done and the service is quite good. Maybe I’ll even try to get back here with locals. Who knows? But I highly recommend giving it a try (and maybe I should try ordering off the actual menu so I can try some of the more unusual dishes). I mean my friends look mostly happy don’t they?
6 Dering Street, W1s 1AD