15 September 2008
41 Lordship Lane
020 8693 6353
By David Yuill
IN AN ALREADY saturated market of cuisine from the sub-continent, the last thing East Dulwich's Lordship Lane needed was another curry house - right?
So this little place opens up - verging on the small side serving up pretty much the same old stuff… well wrong.
Jaflong has opened up as the newest and most modern curry house on the Lane, combining an obedience to its traditional dishes with an experimentation with some new and untried dishes.
The manager - who has been working up and down Lordship Lane for eighteen years - has hand-picked the best chefs from Bangladesh and India to create the varied and well-explained menu. The warm and inviting décor seems more in tune with the trendy bars and up-market shops than any of the more traditional curry houses.
Having had a relatively slow start - the word is suddenly spreading. Arriving early, we were the first to take the window seats for the evening seating, which was a little lonely to begin with. But by the time the papadoms and customary dips arrived, the tables were quickly filling up with walk-ins and pre-booked guests creating an exciting buzz.
A rather helpful young waiter scuttled out of the kitchen with an additional bright red chutney for our appetiser. "This is a special one," he began: "You must try this. Chef's special, not on the menu."
And he was right on all counts, special, must-try and not on the menu. The mild tamarind and coconut chutney is an absolute gem that you have to ask for - but it is our little secret that we pass on to you.
Jaflong's head chef claims absolute authenticity over his secret - which has suddenly spread along the competitive Lane - and I can see why the little beauty would catch on.
With the pair of us nattering on about the chutney selection, our perfectly portioned mains arrived. Mounds of rice and a selection of curries sizzling away on the hot plate as the unique and warming aroma filled the little room.
Instead of that sinking feeling I often get when a feast fit for five thousand arrives when I treat the missus to a curry; this lot looked appetizing and manageable.
The lower prices mean slightly smaller dishes that are perfect in both size and quality. My (murgh tawa) chicken fillet dish with peppers, onion and chillis was really brought to life by the delicate spices that made up the thick and creamy sauce. Described as spicy-hot on the chilli-ometer, it was suitable to share with the delicate flower across the table who tends to prefer the more tame variety.
Having plumped for the filling chicken biriyani - the missus topped this up with a rather successful side of (khumb mutter) mushroom and chick pea.
The variety of flavours blended together well and the helping hand of a pint of Cobra - enough to complete any meal - to seal the deal left us waddling out with a grand old smile.
As we reached for our coats, the waiter plonked down the dessert list and the sweet-tooth across the way couldn't resist the coconut ice cream served in a real coconut shell.
Jaflong is every bit a small, neat and tidy little establishment with a friendly and eager to please staff that make every effort to remember familiar faces. In the face of particularly fierce competition, the personal touch goes a long way and worked on us.
Murgh Tawa £6.95
Khumb Mutter £2.75
Chicken Biriyana £6.60
Mushroom pilau rice £2.75
3 x Papadom £1.50
Keema Naan £1.95
Coconut ice cream £3.25
2 x large Cobra beer £9.00
FOOD (1-5) 4.5
AMBIENCE (1-5) 4
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 4.5
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET NO
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