I’m one of those annoying people who loves every type of food cuisine. It’s annoying in the sense that when someone asks me what type of food do I fancy, if planning to go out for dinner, I’m usually one of those ‘I’ll go anywhere’ type of people. It’s not being indecisive – it’s literally just being greedy. Italian, Asian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, American… even good old British… you name it, I can eat it.
However, I’m pretty good with restaurant recommendations when it comes to the majority of cuisines. Indian food on the other hand, I’m not so set with. I guess I have had some very enjoyable Indian means at local restaurants near to me, but for the city center of Manchester, no where in particular jumps out at me for being amazing. Until my recent visit to Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, of course.
Situated just off the busy area of Oxford Road, quite close to the Universities, Zouk sits on Chester Street, a little tucked away. You’ll spot it’s outdoor seating and shisha area first, and maybe even catch a whiff of the amazing fruity scents from the shisha too! In a nutshell, Zouk offers Pakistani and Indian authentic cuisine served in a modern themed restaurant. Along with booking in to dine at Zouk for an Indian dining experience, they also offer a cooking school on-site, where you can learn how to cook some favourite Zouk dishes.
I booked in at Zouk Tea Bar and Grill on a Wednesday evening, after finishing work. My guest was around 30 minutes late, however the staff greeted me and took me to my table, letting me nibble away on lots of yummy popadoms and chutneys to entertain myself on whilst I waited. The tray was such a good idea, as the popadoms were broken up into eat-able sizes, with all the traditional dips you expect to see. I also ordered a lovely bottle of white wine, in which I left it up to the waiter to pick. He brought back a Sauvignon which he recommended went well with the cuisine, and I then spent around 20 minutes trying to decide what to order. The menu is really extensive – I was surprised at how many options there was! I was very impressed with the choices of fish dishes and vegetarian, as I didn’t expect these to be so heavily featured at an Indian restaurant. I was very tempted to go for a fish curry for my main and try it out, as it’s not a usual choice for me…
So what choices did I make? I opted for the ‘Chooza Chaat’ as my starter, which involved pan-fired slivers of chicken and pepper in a sizzling hot sauce. It was so tasty, with green and red spiced peppers to flavour it up. My guest went for the Punjabi Lollipo- pieces of marinated chicken wrapped around a chicken wing and gently cooked over hot charcoal. A lovely new approach to curried chicken wings!
For the main, I decided to be a little bit different and opt for the fish dish after all, selecting the Goan Fish Curry, which includes aromatic haddock curry cooked with fresh coconut, curry leaves & cracked mustard. I was so happy I made this choice! It had that Indian inspired kick but it was broken up with creamier notes of coconut and mustard, which went so well with the fish. I also went a little bit different with my rice choice, going for a lemon rice. Perfect accompaniment for the fish in my opinion. Oh and of course, a cheeky bit of naan bread. An indian feast isn’t complete without this type of bread!
We were slightly undecided for a dessert, so the waiter brought over a combination of pistachio ice-cream and cheesecake, coated in lemon sauce, chocolate and fruits. Delicious!
Despite the food being highly impressive, I was actually blown away at the happy, cheerful and attentive service. The waiters appeared to love working for Zouk and had huge amounts of pride and confidence in the menus and food.
Now I have an Indian restaurant to recommend should anyone ask me…