Where curry is involved my attitude is borderline fanatical, obsessive even. So to see Warsaw finally embracing Indian cuisine has left me doing star jumps and cartwheels. Happy? I feel like I’ve won the bingo. And even more so when I consider that places like Madras, Mr India, Tandoor and Rain are every bit as good as the places back in England – some of them even better. But where do the raft of newbies fit into that roll-call? For instance, Rasoi…
Opened at the start of the year, the standout feature of Rasoi is its location – bang center it might be, but reaching it is an odyssey: throttled by roads and underpasses, while you can see it from Zlote Tarasy, good luck getting across to it in anything less than ten minutes. Sat next to a few low-rent bars and eateries (including the incredibly named Frodo Bar), from the outside it looks shabby and pokey. Through the door, and diners are met by a compact space that’s charmingly tacky: colorful cushions and a collection of trinkets – it’s cheap but cheerful.
So too the food. I stress to the waitress I want a vindaloo that will make my ears bleed, and while it doesn’t hit the Richter scale, I’m pleased with the result. There’s a nice subtle punch that electrocutes my hangover into history. My friends, meanwhile, share a jalfrezi – opinion ranges from, “ok, but nothing to return for,” (him), to “wow, I think that’s my favorite in Warsaw,” (her). We don’t stick around much longer, but for me I’ve seen enough to form a judgment. And yeah, I guess it’s pretty positive. I enjoy the casual, frayed style, and the service deserves a mention – blonde girl, you’re brilliant. As for the food, I’d certainly return if the location wasn’t so isolated. Score? A healthy four out of five.
Of course, you don’t become as round as me by sticking to one curry per week. So, where else have I been? That would be Ganesh in their new location on lower Marszalkowska. When Ganesh first came to Warsaw four or five years ago I immediately installed them as my favorite in town. That didn’t last, and they plunged down the rankings in dramatic, heart-break fashion – on my last trip, for a convention of The New Warsaw Curry Club, I was surprised to find an unidentified object lurking in my curry: that guesses to its origin included a finger nail should reveal the mystery surprise wasn’t all that welcome.
But I’m all on for giving places a second chance, so arrived to the new locale with a blank slate and an open mind. First impressions concern its size – it’s vast. The second impression concerns its lack of custom – sitting alone in an empty room and you can’t help but feel crushed by its desolation. The old venue was similarly large, but had enough nooks and corners to retain a sense of intimacy. Here you feel like you’re sitting on Death Row.
Next disappointment came with the menu – while Rain and Tandoor are great examples of former giants reinventing and rebooting themselves to offer something new, Ganesh have taken the easy option. Here the menu is a replica of what they offered before: zzz… How would I describe my chicken Madras? Well, there’s a lot they do right. The sauce is thick, pungent with spices and complete with a good kick. Very good. But the chicken part just doesn’t do it – it feels fatty and bland and this despite of the sauce it’s sat in. And the naan bread is the opposite to the pillowy bit of heaven I’d mistakenly expected – crunch, crunch, at one stage I wasn’t sure if I’d been handed a poppadum. With excellence pretty much assured at Tandoor round the corner, I wouldn’t bet on Ganesh filling those million vacant tables.
Rasoi ul. Chmielna 98, facebook
Ganesh ul. Marszalkowska 10/16
(Words & Photos: AW)