Good things come in small sizes is a popular saying, and it rings true insofar as Indian Express in West Kensington is concerned.
The food and the service at this gem of a restaurant, just a five minute walk from West Kensington Tube station, is among the best Indian and Bangladeshi food I have experienced in a long while, and it appears to be very popular with the locals who have discovered it.
It becomes apparent when you walk in that’s there is a lack of space. This is a restaurant that deserves to expand, and may be forced to as it gets better established.
It’s not that the owner Abdul Rokib – known affectionately to his customers as ‘Rocky’ – is the new kid on the block. Indian Express has been in its current location for three years but was previously well established in West Kensington’s Charville Road.
To some extent it is still rebuilding following the move, explained Rocky, with former customers still discovering that they are back in business after a spell of several months between closing the old restaurant and reopening.
Rocky shifted some tables to make a space for my wife and I, in the packed dining area, and impressed us with his knowledge of the menu and the process with which the dishes are prepared and cooked.
At his recommendation I plumped for the Garlic Green Chicken Shashlick as my main dish. I like to think I have a high tolerance for hot, spicy food, but have got a bit out of my depth in the past. I’m pleased to report that this tasty chilli dish was perfect.
Rocky explained that the chicken is marinated overnight in garlic, ginger, coriander and pepper and grilled. A signature dish, it is among the most popular at Indian Express.
My wife who is a bit of chicken korma devotee was also persuaded out of her comfort zone by Rocky and ordered Honey Luscious – a concoction of coconut, almond, cottage cheese, mushroom and creme, cooked in honey, which met with her enthusiastic approval.
We enjoyed popadom starters and naan bread, as well as side dishes of onion bhaji, but by this point I was reaching full and felt a little guilty for not having the room for much of the side order of Bombay aloo potatoes.
As something a little different we sampled ‘gulab juman’, a kind of dumpling made of milk, sugar and spice as a dessert. It was a little rich for my wife but hit the spot for me.
Rocky was certainly the attentive host and a natural people person. He explained that the restaurant is a family business. He works the front of house while his brother Hannam is head chef, responsible for concocting the tasty dishes that seal the deal. Both brothers have previously worked in restaurants before taking the decision in 2003 to go it alone, and I for one am pleased they did.
They have plans for the business and with a larger premises all the ingredients will be here for future success.