9 May 2012
137a Southampton Way, Camberwell, London, SE5 7EW
Tel: 020 7703 3761
It is always good to return to somewhere that you have nice memories of, so it was with not a little excitement that myself and Nina The Ballerina set off for JJ’s, an excellent Indian restaurant in the up and coming part of Camberwell.
Near the end of our journey we could not help but notice how much things had changed for the better in the area; although from listening to the locals in JJ’s we realised that none were happy with the abundance of Tesco Express stores that had popped up everywhere, ruining small, family run businesses and all that goes with it.
Nevertheless, until Tescos start doing takeaway Indian JJ’s will continue to do great business, and that was what we were there to check out. Jags, the owner, greeted us like old friends and immediately offered to choose the meal for us, ensuring we tried all the different styles from his Punjabi background that the restaurant does, and which you rarely find in other Indian restaurants.
As we sat with two cold Cobras, the chef set about cooking our first course: Chicken Tikka and lamb chops for me; Prawn Puri for The Dancer, and Aloo Tiki Chaat (Vegetable Samosa) for sharing. As we waited we chatted with Jags, who told us how they use a different, more authentic pastry for their samosas, and what spices they marinate the lamb in. How our mouths watered…
The chicken was seasoned just right, and went well with the various chutneys and pickles provided; the lamb chops were bursting with flavour and the samosas were so full to the brim they could be a meal on their own with the chick pea and tomato sauce accompaniment. Nina told me her prawn dish with chapatti was ‘Delightful’. I had a taste, and it was.
Between courses we sat back and listened to the music playing, which was no doubt Indian but seemed like it had hooked up with John Coltrane, had an E and gone to Glastonbury! It was extremely listenable. Looking around I saw that JJ’s interior is more café bistro than Bhangra, with plain tables and an interesting mural that has transferred over to the website.
This modern take is more pleasing than the outdated look of many other similar restaurants. We spoke with Jags about his children, the theatre, today’s education and how his family have been rooted in Camberwell for well over 30 years now, and then, catching us by surprise, our main courses were set before us: meat, fish, vegetable and a cheese dish. Plus, Lemon Rice, Plain Nan and a Roti. Yum. It was time to stop talking and start eating.
My Chicken Karahi was initially smooth but then the bite kicked in and snapped away at the mouth like a Jack Russell puppy. Nice. The Paneer Purji, was a JJ update on a traditional Sikh dish where the cheese is cubed, but here it is grated and was much to Nina’s liking.
Jags talked us though the Makhani Daal, a black lentil dish that he told us was again more of a Punjabi dish, and a nice change from the usual yellow lentil daal. This version had more intense flavour and texture.
Nina’s Fish Masala Karahi was subtly spiced and delicately flavoured, and completely suited to the fish that would have become utterly overpowered if the curry were any stronger. A triumph said she.
We both agreed on the meal being a splendid array of different flavours with each dish complementing the others. As we struggled to finish them all off I felt the satisfying lip tingle that confirms that you have had a good curry.
Jags then persuaded us to have the Pistachio Kulfi to cool and refresh the palate. And it did. Since our last visit to JJ’s the area has got busier and so as the restaurant. The standard of cooking is just as high and they continue to modernise and update their menu for contemporary tastes. It is still very reasonably priced with all main dishes very much this side of a tenner.
Chop Platter £4.95
Prawn Puri £3.45
Aloo Tiki Chaat £2.95
Cobra Beer x 4 £7.80
Lemon Rice £2.25
Chicken Karahi £5.95
Makhani Dal £2.95
Paneer Purji £4.50
Pistachio Kulfi x 2 £5.00
No comments have been posted.
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale