PLEASE NOTE THAT WHEN I WROTE THIS REVIEW, MY FAMILY AND I HAD A REALLY GOOD EXPERIENCE. RECENTLY, I HAVE BEEN HEARING COMPLAINTS FROM MY FRIENDS AND READERS WHO HAVE VISITED THE HOUSE OF CURRY ON MY RECOMMENDATION. I HAVE WRITTEN TO THE RESTAURANT AND THEY HAVE RESPONDED AND LOOKING AFTER THE ISSUE. Being an Indian I am very skeptical about Indian restaurants. I can never explain to myself what price is a *good price* to pay for food that can be cooked at home. I love going to Ravi’s or a Karachi Darbar (these are Pakistani restaurants but treads on the similar subcontinental North Indian flavour), because I cannot replicate the food – the typical greasiness, the mind-blowing taste and a food bill that doesn’t make me squirm. A bit more high end and I am thoroughly confused. And to find the Indian Menu characterized only by North Indian food, infuriates me further. Very recently, I had the opportunity to taste a 9-course Navratan Menu hosted by Atul Kochhar himself at his restaurant Rang Mahal, and I loved the way he had deconstructed the Indian menu and reconstructed a platter with nuances from different regions of India (beautiful recount by My Custard Pie). But then that is high-end dining. Forget all these conversations. Chances are, I will never go to an Indian Restaurant of my own accord.
This weekend however, had been special. An extended *milestone* birthday celebration – well, mine actually (haven’t I always said that humility was my middle name?) and a beautiful feeling all around (my imagination of course!). I promised the Z-Sisters something special. We walked to the new beach development on JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence), cribbing all the while how unfair it was that the JBR residents who had thought that they had bought their apartments by the beach would now be actually having a beachfront mall in front of them. And by the time we reached The Beach Mall, I had already started to sing new tunes – ‘Oh my God! How beautiful this place has become!’. Trust me, when Dubai creates something, it does know how to surpass everybody’s expectations. And then I came across the House of Curry. And I did a few things that I would never have normally done before. 1) Entered an Indian Restaurant of my own accord; 2) Loved the *keep calm* poster which normally infuriates me; 3) Ordered Butter Chicken and Kaali Daal of all things – the oh-so-usual-stuff-on-the-Indian-menu and I liked it; 4) I did a blogpost with my smartphone pictures – I hadn’t carried my SLR as I had no intentions to review; 5) I loved Monalisa for the first time (I know I might be stoned to death, but I can never understand the fuss with this lady. I am intrigued by her fame but not by her beauty. And no, my opinion hasn’t changed even after seeing the original in Louvre). Monalisa donned a sari and peeped out of a traditional handcrafted Indian window. My verdict? A Good experience, deserving an immediate blogpost!The decor and the ambiance: The interior is fascinating, resembling a courtyard of a *haveli* or a traditional North Indian mansion with the white wrought iron chairs lending an airy feel in the overtly ethnic decor. Most of the furniture had been created locally from recycled materials. The highlight being naturally the Indian Monalisa peeping from a handcrafted window on a wall which been created with, at my last count, 17 traditional doors and windows. There were bicyles – Atlas bicycle (Atlas is one of the oldest bicycle companies in India), sacks with spices, trees looming into the mock sky. Yes, an Indian version of Al Fanar Restaurant. A very regal feel, a beautiful space and a very relaxed environment, throbbing with diners – kids and adults alike. The food verdict: The menu consists of the usual Indian-menu suspects – Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken and Daal Makhani, Malai Kofta, Navratan Korma, Aloo Gobi etc in their vegetarian offerings. We did order the regular Butter Chicken, Kaali Daal and Garlic Naans (below) because the Z-Sisters are kind of British in their Indian food preferences (ahem, the colonial hangover of non-resident Indians!). But there are a few interesting twists here and there – the Murgh Bhushtrina Tikka or marinated chicken in lemon grass along with traditional Indian spices and or the coastal dishes – for example, Chicken in Green Curry or the Mutton Chop Masala. But the highlight for me would be the Seafood Menu.
The Seafood Menu: Much like the Seaview Restaurant that has become my recent favourite, the seafood menu here, too, is based on the fresh catch of the day. What I understood from my conversation with the restaurant staff and later the manager (well, I do ask too many questions), one of the owners has a fishing boat. The fresh catch of the day is on display. The diner chooses the fish and the preparation style it is to be cooked in – either grilled, tandoored or fried. We chose a Sheri fish weighing almost a kg and a half, prepared in the Tandoori style. It arrived at the table beatifully arranged on a huge green ceramic fish-shaped tray (below), with a bed of thinly sliced onions on the side, lime slices and a small bowl of gravy – the South Indian styled Sambal. You can also choose a spicy Dip – the Chatpatta Masala or the HOC special – a mustard based sauce as the complementary gravies for your fish. My usual questions on fish sustainability remains slightly unanswered. The overfished Hamour will probably be there in the menu but before I probe further, I need to study a bit more on this. As I was told in the Seaview Restaurant, Hamour can also be sustainable, if it is caught during certain months of the year. I cannot say I am convinced. But for the time being, yes, I am silence.
The Sign off: Clam Sukka (clams in a dry gravy), Mussel Curry (mussels cooked in a strong spicy broth), Crab Masala Curry (cracked blue crabs with a tangy coastal gravy), Goan Jhinga Curry (prawns cooked in the Goan style with coconut and tamarind) and a few more interesting seafood items in the House of Curry menu remains to be tried. But considering the great service (the staff was really courteous and caring), good food, a brilliant location with a sea view (they have another outlet in Downtown), the dining experience in House of Curry is not exorbitant at all. Plus, this would be great during dinner as well – I wouldn’t mind dining inside an Indian haveli at this price! I was told that, just the other day, they ran out of food. I believe them – if they can consistently serve the food they did to us (only two weeks into their opening), this would definitely become the mid-range Indian Restaurant where one can come for an *experience*. As for now, I am going to return for some of the untasted dishes on their seafood menu, the hand churned traditional Rose Ice cream (very popular in Baroda) and of course to see the Indian Monalisa!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: Our bill amounted to approximately Dhs 400 for 4 hungry adults and 1 picky kid. There are many new outlets that are still in their *soft opening* phase in this development – We have also tried Eat Greek restaurant, located just beside House of Curry, also the Counter Burger and the Leopolds. Please note that this post is not a sponsored post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. You can catch my daily travel and food journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.