Hot Stuff in London/Vauxhall?
UPDATE: Went to Hot Stuff this past weekend (link to NYTimes article posted below). the restaurant is a real trek for a tourist: Tube from the City out to Vauxhall (located in South London, roughly across the Thames from Pimlico and the Tate Britain). From Vauxhall station, it was a 15 min walk along a very bleak stretch of street bordered by corrugated metal sheds, gas stations, and some super-luxe new condos going up on the Thames. The final stretch was along a pedestrian footpath through the middle of a public housing "estate". Note to self: next time, take the alternate route down Lambeth Rd, which is much nicer and more active.
The restaurant itself is located in a little, one-block stretch of shops. Hot Stuff itself occupies a shopfront that, in the States, would be called a strip shopping center, although it fronts onto the street rather than a parking lot. The place was PACKED to the gills with people, at least 25 in a space that couldn't have been more than 15 ft square. The very nice owner came out and said that, since we were 15 min early, we should pop down to the pub on the corner for a pint. We followed his suggestion and had a nice pint, chatting with the friendly bartenders.
When we arrived back at the pub, we discovered that the large number of people eating before us was actually one single group. They left en masse and the staff did an efficient job of turning over the entire restaurant for the next wave of diners, which immediately filled the place to capacity again. The restaurant also did a brisk trade in take-out the entire time we were there, with many of the pick-ups arriving in cars.
We ordered vegetable samosas and chile paneer (which was recommended by the owner). The samosas were expertly cooked, perfectly crispy and a great filling. The chile paneer was amazing, hands-down the best dish of the night. Just simply paneer in a well-spiced chile sauce.
Our entrees were king prawns in curry sauce and vegetable korma. The veggie korma wasn't on the menu, but it's one of my favorite indian dishes, so I asked if it was available. The veggie korma that's normally served in the states has little balls of mashed veggies in the sauce. This was simply cooked vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, peppers) in a korma sauce. Simple, but good. The prawns in curry were also well done. Overall, I wasn't as bowled over by the entrees as the starters. My main complaint was that the dishes were underspiced, perhaps for the British palette. I'm used to Indian food being a bit spicier.
Overall, however, I'd recommend Hot Stuff to the adventurous diner that doesn't mind breaking off the beaten path for a fun night out in the 'real' London.