Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Gurkha Experience

It was my birthday in June and over the past couple of months I have been very, very lucky.  My kind friends have taken me out for birthday treats.  Instead of having my treats all centred around my actual birthday they have taken place over a couple of months so I have had a somewhat prolonged birthday which has been a rather excellent experience. 

Most of my treats have been - funnily enough - food related.  I do like to dine out.  It is one of my most favourite things.  And I love to find new and interesting places to eat.  Well, PR and I found one such place in Maidstone. Maidstone is a barracks town with a strong Gurkha presence and some enterprising ex-gurkha's have opened the Gurkha Restaurant at 112 Week Street which is where we went to eat one Wednesday lunchtime a few weeks ago.  Their charming website is

Previously a sort of greasy spoon type cafe it is quite small, holding possibly ten tables?  I didn't actually count them.  And the decor is completely white which makes it look a little clinical and boring but this could be an attempt to make it seem larger.  Ambience matters to me so I am very glad that I didn't let the whiteness put me off because the food was amazing.

PR and I shared a starter of Channa Chat which was a dish of  chickpeas cooked with chat masala in a cucumber and lemon sauce.  It was a slightly lip tingly spiced dish with a clear sauce.  There was no cucumber to be seen so I'm not sure how they made the sauce but it tasted quite pleasant.  The portion was quite large so I'm glad we shared it.

For the main course we shared Hariyali Chicken, Chilli Masala King Prawns, Egg Fried Rice and Ghulio Roti with mango juice to drink.  Hariyali Chicken was billed as being a 'Gurkha Speciality' and was so delicious (I am going to be using that word a lot).  Breast of chicken cooked with mint, coriander and green sauce but it wasn't  green or overly minty.  All the flavours blended to make a smooth, tasty, warm (as in comforting warm)  sauce poured over tender pieces of chicken.   The Chilli Masala King Prawns packed a spicier punch but was far from overwhelming.   The prawns were cooked with green chilli, pepper, onion and tomatoes with a garlic sauce. I like my spices a lot hotter than PR but we both found this to be to our liking.  We had originally chosen the pilau rice to accompany it but the waiter offered us 'a good egg fried rice' which actually wasn't on the menu so we went for that and it was good.  Sometimes egg fried rice can be a bit greasy but this wasn't.  The Ghulio Roti was a pershwari naan stuffed with dry nuts and was so delicious.  We perused the limited dessert menu and were on the point of deciding no when the waiter recommended the honeycomb ice-cream so we thought 'why not - there is always room for pudding' and so we did and are we glad we did.  It was yummy. Creamy with a crispy caramel stirred through it.  Having chosen Mango juice to drink I was concerned it would be either watery or cloyingly sweet and was relieved to find it was neither.  It was pleasantly chilled with a fresh taste.

We very much liked the portion sizes.  Apart from the starter, each dish was not an overwhelming amount.  PR and I have eaten our way round quite a few places in Maidstone over the past few years - not that there are all that many restaurants there really - and one thing we struggle with is the portion size being  way too big and these were just right.  The starter aside, which we didn't finish partly because we didn't know what to expect next, we ate everything except one piece of naan.  I did ask for the recipes but I wasn't given them which made me a bit sad so now I have to go and find a Nepalese cookbook because I want to be able to make food like that.

Each course was nicely presented on white triangular china, the cutlery and glasses were sparkling as was the table linen.  And the staff couldn't have been more friendly or pleasant to us.   It was fairly busy when we arrived but they still made time for us, didn't rush us and when we were the last to leave spent time chatting to us.  My recipe request was denied in such gentlemanly way I felt I had been charmed.

I can't mention the price because it was a treat and I wasn't allowed to know but I don't think PR considered it to be  expensive for what it was which was a very pleasant, pleasing and very, very delicious experience.  One of the best meals I've had in a long time. And we both decided we will be going back there at Christmas so I do hope they have enough customers to keep them going until then.  Oh yes and the loos were clean which is always always a good thing.  I don't go back if the facilities are lacking and I would have hated it if I wasn't able to go back there.

My new career!!!!   I think I would like a job as a restaurant reviewer please.

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