Whilst my corner of NW London isn’t awash with restaurants, it is a reliable source of good Indian cuisine. Ruchi in particular is a fantastic spot with their Goan green masala (green with coriander and mint) and soft garlic naans. Something new is always good though, so we headed down Willesden Lane past Kovalam (another South Indian staple of mine) to Vijay.
Also specialising in South Indian cuisine, it looks comfortably unassuming but has received some very good press in the past (see this Independent review). On arrival we had a very warm welcome and were seated quickly with menus.
A cold Cobra beer is always welcome whilst perusing the menu. I should mention my dining partner Phil is temporarily Vegan (don’t ask) but being South Indian there were a huge number of vegetable / lentil focused dishes (as well as a lot of seafood). The staff were great at checking what was vegan and if ghee was being used which was appreciated.
A couple of poppadoms were nicely crisp and unusually thick. They were served with a mango chutney, a raita and fresh onion. Given Phil couldn’t eat the raita, they very kindly brought a special chutney which was sweet with lots of fresh onion, a nice touch.
My main was a prawn spinach dish. Reasonably small prawns but they had a nice texture with lots of spinach and fresh herbs. The dish was fragrant with a mild-medium heat, I don’t agree with the menu’s description of medium-hot quite though. The pilau rice was fluffy and tasty. Phil’s Tarka Dal right at the back was well flavoured although it had a runny texture (I prefer a slightly firmer dal personally).
A couple of sides topped off the meal. The paratha was delicious, nicely crisp on the outside with flaky soft layers inside. The Bombay potato was another great dish, spicy hot with a touch of citrus and large chunks of tomatos and peppers.
The grand total for all that food, a couple of small Cobras each and service was £28. A cracking local then, the food was all hot, fresh and flavoursome, great service and a congenial atmosphere. I’ll be back!