VALUE FOR MONEY: 7.8/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 8.5/10
NOTE: Meat is halal and HRC certifies (halal regulatory commission). Alcohol is served on site. We were invited to try the food here.
Babuji’s is situated in a prime location, directly opposite Kentish Town tube station. What was once a 20 year old, family run curry house, has been transformed into Babujis: a modern South Indian eatery with a menu which captures a variety of popular South Asian dishes, whether Pakistani, North Indian, or Bangladeshi. Having been run for so long by his father, Mo and his brother set out on a new venture, which began with completely re-vamping his fathers long standing restaurant. One thing is clear when you walk in, and that is that all the fine details, from the tiling, to the flower wall, and from the immaculate toilets to the wall quotes, have been well thought through. As a customer it is these details which only add to your experience when dining at Babujis.
We were immediately shown to a table and handed the menu. Along with the menu was a card, which encourages you (and shows you) how to eat with your hands (there is no cutlery at the table). Based in Kentish Town, in a rather affluent part of London does mean the clientele which visit Babuji is white middle class. So it was beautiful to see this visual prompt for diners to fully embrace the Babuji (South Indian) culinary experience.
Looking at the menu we knew what we wanted to order within a few minutes: mango lassi, Lahori lamb chops, vada pau, Hyderabadi lamb biryani and the Bangla bhuna chicken with butter naan.
The lassi arrived with a colourful and crunchy starter of fried FarFar. This was a great touch as it makes a change from complimentary popadoms which you sometimes receive on arrival to most Indian and Pakistani restaurants. The lassi wasn’t too thick or sweet but was still incredibly cooling and refreshing.
The starters arrived in good time. First up was the vada pau, which is one of ShakerFries’ favourite things. The vada is made of a spicy potato deep fried in gram flour batter and placed inside a soft bun (Pau). The crispy exterior of the vada was so tasty, and the spices from the vada and on top of the bun alike were a tongue tickler. I would say that for a much loved yet simple dish, 2 vada paus for the price of £5.50, or a larger vada within the bun would have been made this dish better value. That being said we appreciate the location of Babuji and recognise that in an area where this type of cuisine is still somewhat of a novelty, the higher price is somewhat justified. The chops again were a pleasure to eat. There were 3 in a portion and they were chargrilled to perfection with a fresh burst of flavour from the masala, which was not too spicy. After a great start with the starters, we were really looking forward to the mains.
It goes without question that the Dum biryani was aesthetically, the best dish. Having to cut into the pastry encapsulating the piping hot lamb and rice beneath, this dish grabbed the attention of many passers by as we attempted to deconstruct this beautifully presented dish! The taste was just as good and fragrant, and the lamb cubes were buttery and tender. The Bangla Bhuna however was the star of the show when it came to taste. Although aesthetically it looked like the most basic dish, everything about it’s taste made up for the simple presentation. Both of us were blown away by the authenticity of this dish. If I had my eyes closed I would be transported immediately to the simpler yet authentic curry houses in the thick of Brick Lane or Mile End. The chicken was tender and the masala was spicy and bursting with flavour. We mopped up every last morsel of this dish with the soft and fluffy butter naan. By the end we were more than content.
The Queues which were out the door of Babuji’s after just being open a month is a real testament to the fine quality food and the full dining experience they offer. Although a small and quaint eatery, you can expect a lot from Babuji’s in the way of authentic South Asian cuisine and an overall fun dining experience. My only regret was that I didn’t try the masala chai before leaving!