Tamarai, Drury Lane

BATD ON Oct 22, 2010 AT 11:58 am



By John Gregory-Smith

Tamarai is a Pan Asian restaurant on Drury Lane. Once you have found the entrance, you follow the stairs down into a dark restaurant, full of booths and purple lights. It really reminded me of eating in New York, where quite often you are not sure if it’s a club or a restaurant. I have to say, this would not be my usual choice of restaurant, but I was so impressed by the food I would go back in a second!

Before dinner we tucked into a few cocktails from a really interesting list. The Mon Cherie with vodka, passion fruit and dark chocolate liquor was beautifully tart, with a lovely sweet note from the chocolate liquor and the Beijing Bellini was just wicked; fruit, champagne and a sweet cinnamon rim on the glass, you have to get involved with this one, it was a real taste sensation.

Beijing Bellini and Mon Cherie cocktails

Beijing Bellini and Mon Cherie cocktails

Tamarai has a proper “Pan Asian” menu. The food comes from India, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thai Land and Singapore (I may well have missed a few countries). We decided on the tasting menu to get a really good feel for the place. The meal started off with soft tofu spring rolls, wonderfully crispy soft shell crab, which was served with really crunchy roasted coconut shavings, garlic and spring onions that would have made the perfect bar snack with a cold larger. We moved onto fluffy light idlis, south Indian rice flour cakes, which were served with a “Madras gun powder” spice mix, crunchy cashew nuts and an amazingly rich roasted onion dip (that I actually wanted to put in a jar and take home with me).

For our mains we had crispy fish and beef with XO sauce. The beef was amazingly tender and is served with the slightly spicy, savoury sauce which I really enjoyed. Finally we had a vegetarian dish of fried tofu with black pepper and mange tout, which was wonderfully peppery and numbingly delicious.

We then finished off with a selection of desserts. My favourite was a roasted sesame and white chocolate semi freddo that was perfectly creamy, without being too rich or sweet.

The tasting menu costs £52 a head, with an additional £17 for a really well though up wine selection by Charles Metcalfe, and I would definitely recommend it. I was really surprised by Tamarai, its far more “glamorous” a place than I would usually eat at. However, the food was of such a high standard that I enjoyed almost everything we were given, it’s well worth a visit.


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