Rasa Samudra - Charlotte Street, London - Report
I ate at Rasa Samudra for the first time last night. Overall, a pretty good meal. Service was a bit spotty - sometimes too formal, but other times a bit too rushed (and forgetful). They were busy, and it was Friday night, so I suppose this could be a factor.
For starters, we had plantain fritters, which were quite nice, and a chickpea fry, which I thought was okay, but not nearly as good as 'fries' I've had at Thattukada. We also ordered the chutney sampler, which consisted of about 8 homemade chutneys and pickles, some of which were excellent (although portions of each were small).
For main dishes, we had the Kappayum Meenum - kingfish w/ cassava. I thought this was only OK, but others in the party really liked it. We also had the mango prawns, which I really liked - I was worried this would be a sweet dish, but it wasn't overly so.
We had the cabbage thoran, which I thought was only OK too....a bit bland compared to other versions I've had. I like the aubergine (Bagar Baingan) - especially the cashew/yogurt sauce - I had never really had anything like that before. We also had a dal dish which I can't recall the name of - but it was a mix of lentils and black-eyed-peas, and it was OK.
Breads were pretty good - we had paratha and the Uzhunappam. I asked if they could make egg appam, and they said no. We also had one lemon rice, which was fine.
I drank a mango lassi which wasn't very yogurty - it was on the sweet side, but also had ginger. So it was pretty tasty.
I think this place is a good option for Keralan food in Central London - it's on a nice street, convenient to lots of sights, so a good bet for visitors to London who want something pretty good and convenient. It's not particularly expensive, but not particularly inexpensive either.
I have also heard that Rasa Samudra serves a takeaway lunch out of their back door on weekdays, a set meal for 3 or 4 £. Can anyone confirm this? Might check it out next week....
This place was one of the first ones I tried when I first moved to London. It seemed like a revelation then, probably because there is not much Keralan food at all in my distant native land. I fell in love with the meen mollie and the bread, and was always happy to go back despite the relatively high prices.
But then -- last night we went there for dinner with a visiting American friend who insisted on just this place. This visit struck me as just okay, not great. Even the meen mollie seemed not as good as the one at my local favourite (Jashaan on Turnpike Lane, highly recommended if you are in North London). Service was polite but confused.
Fallen star? My standards rising? Not really sure. I will probably not refuse if a friend suggests the place again, but it is not on my A-list any longer.
Yes, I checked this out this past week too. I actually thought the food in my £4 takeaway box was better than the food I had for dinner! I had the chicken, a friend had the vegetarian, and both were good - rice, chapati, chicken curry (which had spices that reminded me of beef rendang), and two vegetable dishes.
re: Dave MP
I have found the Rasa Express takeaways a little heavy for my taste - too much coconut milk in the curries, but of course this is keralan food. The pudding is a throwaway, though - rice pudding that is way too liquid and underflavored. Rasa Samudra is excellent, though - my go-to Indian for visiting American friends (I'm american) as it's unlike what you can get at NYC 28th St standbys like Pongal and Madras Mahal. I'm not terribly excited by the starters, preferring to save my appetite for the filling Kappayum Meenum fish dish or the Nair Dosa with mixed vegetables - lightly and delicately done. All the veg dishes I have had have been excellent.