A nostalgic taste of home
First Brexit. Now this.
Like the aforementioned travesty, the news that the British curry house is facing an existential crisis makes me feel like my national identity is being forcedly ripped from me.
There’s precious little else I really miss about the UK. Watching rugby in a warm pub on a cold autumn day, waking up facedown in a muddy ditch on a Somerset farm and dark chocolate hobnobs all fill me with a slight nostalgic twinge. But nothing really comes close to the sensory assault that comes from a good Indian.
Living, as I did, in brutalist Tower Hamlets, I had my pick of exceptional establishments specialising in the fare of the Sub-Continent. However, I was loyal to just one.
The Tale of India was my curry house. Decorated like your Nan’s living room, the wall’s adorned with the photos of c-list celebrities who happened to stumbled in and set to the tune of ear piercing Indian opera. Yes, there are many like it, but the Tale of India was mine. Always there for Friday night stomach-lining, hungover weekends and late night holiday returns.
My quest to find the perfect curry has taken me the length and breadth of Hong Kong. But, from the upmarket Bindas and Gay Lord, to the less refined takeaways hiding at the bottom of the Food Panda directory, nothing has quite hit the spot.
My last hope should have been my first attempt. Chungkin Mansion – and more specifically The Delhi Club – enjoys unrivalled fame as purveyors of a good Indian and the perfect location for a rowdy meal (in this case a work leaving do).
Chungkin mansion is also famous for being fairly lawless, housing the cheapest accommodation in Hong Kong and the place from which to purchase all manner of prohibited goods and services. And it’s the sellers of illegal wares that you first have to contend with. Those crafty bastards have an eye for the nouveau riche and made a beeline for me with their collective calls of ‘copy watch, copy watch’. However, with puffed chest and aloof demeanour I pushed my way through to the pungent metal elevator.
It’s a relief to be greeted with a friendly smile and cold Kingfisher (which would reappear the instant the bottom of the bottle was in sight) and shown to a large table laden with poppadums.
As we were a party of 40+ people, there wasn’t the usual temptation to revert to habit and stick to the usual favourites (vegetable biryani, taka daal, Chicken Makhani and peshwari naan if you’re interested) as we were offered the set menu.
First we received samosas; with a perfectly short pastry containing moist flavoursome veg. These were so moreish it was lucky the quantity was restricted to one each.
Next to arrive were onion bhaji. These were the low point being, as they were, poorly disguised grease-enveloped onion rings. Not to worry as the next course quickly entered the now smoke filled room to a cacophony of dry coughs. The Chicken tikka was delightful. Perfectly succulent and still sizzling on a bed of sweet onions. Manners went out the window as multiple forks fought for every last charred morsel.
All told, the mains were really rather satisfying too. An assortment of simmering curries with various degrees of spice were placed and promptly lapped-up. Unusually flavoursome saag paneer and vegetable rice provided the illusion of nutrition and a buttery naan a welcome textual contrast.
You won’t find any hint of interpretation or fusion-inspired dishes at Delhi Club. But you will find is near perfect curry, perfect for a raucous evening with friends.
How much? $250 including copious amounts of Kingfisher Lager
Where? Room 3, 3/F, Block C, Chungking Mansion, 38-44 Nathan Road, TST
Who goes? Homesick Brits and adventurous tourists