Restaurants Of Manchester
James Martin Manchester
Asha's Manchester Reviews
Address47 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 3NG
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"It's Not A Curry House"
Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Asha's Manchester Review
Restaurants Of Manchester (Friday 15th November 2019)

Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = Fantastic   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

Decor & Ambience Fantastic
Without question; one of the smartest dining rooms in the city.  A sense of opulence hits you as you ascend the stairs leading to the dining space, with great lighting, well-spaced seating, and expensive fixtures and fittings making it feel like somewhere pretty special.  

After a few years of service, some of the booth fabric is looking a tad tired, and there are a few decorative spots and dings that could benefit from a little spruce up.
Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Poppadums and Dips (£4.75) Venison Samosa (£7.95)
Price Fantastic
Getting right to it, as we do; Asha's isn’t cheap.  But then as we've said many times over the years, this isn’t curry house experience, it's an Indian restaurant and a very decent one at that.  You very usually get what you pay for in life, and Asha's is no exception to that rule.

With drinks, you're looking at about £125 per couple depending on your menu choices, but for the quality of the overall package, that’s a given anywhere.

Not much in all honesty.  I'm tight, but even I didn’t moan about paying the bill for what we were presented with.  You could argue that the curries are a tad pricy at close to £18, but then they are all made from scratch, with no base curries anywhere in sight.  Quality costs.
Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Mushroom Kurkure (£7.95) Lamb Seekh Kebab (Coming Soon)
Service Fantastic
Attentive, friendly, knowledgeable, with great points of detail and a truly professional front of house manner.  We ordered a pilau rice, which our server suggested was probably not needed, and you've got to love honesty above profiteering.  I made an unfunny joke about being overweight for good reason, and then ordered the rice regardless.  Anyway, he was correct, but I'll come to that later.

Not very much at all.  Too many coats slung over chairs for a smart dining room, due to the lack of cloakroom, and a small wait on our starters being cleared down.  But other than that it was textbook mid-range service.

Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Gosht Dum Biryan (£18.95) Kodi Curry (£17.95)
Food & Drink 4 stars
I recently asked a newly Michelin starred mate in Birmingham, where the best place for a British curry in Brum was when I was in town on business for a few days.  He proudly told me that he doesn’t do curry houses as they give his cuisine a bad rep, so he told me to go to Asha's Birmingham.  I didn't, as I wanted a curry house.  I then gladly ribbed him over a pic that his mate shared of him and a few other buddies having a great time in a curry house just a few weeks later.  Apparently he was just 'tagging along'.  Near enough everybody loves a curry house, so let's not pretend otherwise, no matter who you are or what you like eating.  But let's be clear; Asha's isn’t a curry house. 

On any level though, a chutney tray with Poppadoms is the obligatory snack prior to any Indian meal.  These were great, being fresh, crisp, not a dot of oil anywhere on them, with a good variety of fluorescent dips.  

Venison Samosa (£7.95) came served in a very generous portion of 3, and those 3 were substantial in size too, packed with meat, veg and that all important spicing.  Definitely a starter for the hungry. 

Mushroom Kurkure (£7.95) was enjoyable, albeit not massively Indian in feel.  It would gladly grace an Italian menu without batting any eyelids.  Breaded and cheese filled cups of mushroom, in another unsparing portion.  Simple and tasty. I'd say that they lacked spice, but it seems that they are intended to be this way after I read into it before being blindly critical. 

We arrived unannounced, but an eagle eyed manager spotted us so after a chat about the pending festivities, along with a random story involving Turkey Seekh kebabs, we received a comped Lamb Seekh Kebab which wasn’t on the menu yet.  It was much thicker than your average version, so still managed to be well cooked on the outside, carrying that iconic tandoor char, with the inside still being supremely juice laden.  Spicing was perfect, the meat was just the right texture, and you're definitely in for a treat when it hits the menu. 

Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Garlic Naan (£3.75) Palao Rice (£5)
Gosht Biryani (£18.95), was simply splendid.  A Staub heavy vessel, filled with perfectly spice scented rice and fall-apart lamb.  It's without question up there with the best biryani which you'll eat anywhere in the region.  Another superbly generous portion helped too! 

Kodi Curry (£17.95), a dish which is only available in Manchester branch of Asha's.  Spicy, creamy, rich, fragrant and indulgent.  You could say, almost a grown up Chicken Tikka Masala with more backbone and punch to it.  As for the Pilau Rice accompaniment (£5), as touched on earlier, the rice from the biryani would have been enough to act as a side too. 

Garlic Naan (£3.75) was light and fluffy, properly charred underneath, with the ideal thickness.  A chasm away from the stodgy, overly doughy naans which plague menus across the land. 

Now we've said it countless times over the years, but you get to the pudding stage of an Indian meal and usually just skip straight to the bill, as more often than not they can be pretty flat and ultimately an anti-climax.   The traditional dessert platter (£10.50) however, surprised us. 

A smooth and flavoursome pistachio Kulfi, shaped into an ice cream lolly.  A sweet and well scented Gulab Jamun, which fortunately avoided the usual unbalanced, one dimensional sweetness that mars the dish in lesser establishments.  Then the Rasmalai; a sweetened cream, nuanced with cardamom and other wonderful perfumes, was rich and smoothly comforting what with the Winter climate outside. 

However….. the chutney selection was a little off par. The apple was basically apple puree, with no texture across any of the dips.   They also broadly lacked spice and variety too.

The Venison Samosa, was indeed reminiscent of a curry house samosa, a massive change from Asha's version until only recently, which was made using crispy filo like pastry, folded like an art form, with a stunning filling, driven with delicate, finely minced venison.  This version, whilst being tasty and generous, was heavy, clunky, lacked the previous versions refinement, and the key venison element was badly lost. 

And the garlic naan bread was a lovely light texture, but the garlic on it was slightly under, and hence raw and quite aggressive in flavour.

I'm still not totally sold on Indian puds to be honest, as much as these were amongst the best renditions of Indian classics that I can recall eating in a long time.
Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Traditional Indian Dessert Platter - Gulab Jamun (£10.50) Traditional Indian Dessert Platter - Pistachio Kulfi (£10.50)
Overall Very Good
With only 8 Michelin Plated venues in the city centre, and only double that in the entire Gtr. Manchester region; you expect a certain standard across the board of your dining experience when eating in one of those 8. Whether it be Stars, Plates or Bibs, Michelin claim that their awards are purely down to the food, not the service, décor, or anything else. But we all know that’s as dated and flawed as the notion of visiting a £400 a head 3 star that's booked up 3 months in advance, as you're taking an impromptu detour on a journey to get your motor fitted with Pilot Sport tyres.

But even so, a Michelin Plate usually signifies that you'll get a good meal, and in many ways they are more accurate than Stars in my view. Most of any major city's well regarded places have one. That’s possibly because their adornment is heavily led by local recommendations and popularity, rather plates being issued due to an inspection by Michelin's tiny inspector headcount. Possibly. Anyway…

Without any shadow of a doubt, Asha's is still our top proper Indian restaurant, in fact, it's one of the few we have at all if we look in the mirror without the proud Manc blinkers on.   Many try, and call themselves 'fine dining', but putting your bhajis on a nice Churchill stonecast platter doesn’t make the food posh, and a curry house is still a curry house regardless of how well you dress it up.  We are great at doing good curry houses here in Manchester, but Asha's is more.  It's a proper restaurant.  A grown up Indian, which does a great job of going the extra mile, using flavours that we all love, to deliver an experience that's on higher level to the norm. Well deserving of their 2020 Michelin Plate!

It's expensive for what you're perhaps used to paying for an Indian, no question, but you get what you pay for.  Also, bring back the old venison samosas!  And some things are genuinely dear though, such as £5 for the pilau rice.  And to be fair, we were told not to order it…... ~ Restaurants Of Manchester (15th November 2019)
Asha's Manchester Review Asha's Manchester Review
Traditional Indian Dessert Platter - Rasmalai (£10.50)  
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