Tel: +44 (0)871 3328899
Address: 116 King Street, Hammersmith, W6
Cuisine Type: Indian/Bangladeshi fusion
Hammersmith (DISTRICT, PICCADILLY, HAMMERSMITH & CITY)
The Hammersmith end of King Street is not noted for its fine dining but a new Indian/Bangladeshi fusion restaurant could just change your mind about that. Chula opened just a few weeks ago but is already proving very popular, especially with young people. The decor is clean and fun, with constantly changing uplighters washing the white walls with colour. There are normal tables towards the front of the restaurant but at the back there’s something a bit different, which you will either love or hate depending on how flexible your joints are…
Chula is named after a traditional country cooking pot and the restaurant founders told us that they had wanted to recreate the feel of a Bangladeshi kitchen, where meals are taken at a low table, seated on cushions. So at the back of the restaurant are four cosy areas in which you can do just that – and more are planned when the restaurant expands. It certainly makes for a change in dining experiences, though the extra cushions due to arrive shortly will make life easier for those whose yoga has woefully slipped.
The food is terrific, if rather too true to its roots for real ‘fusion’. We started with a Chula Platter, a mixture of most of the starters on the menu. Lamb, chicken and tiger prawns, with assorted pakoras and samosas and a tamarind sauce to dip them in, were delicious. At £4.95 for a platter that kept the two of us happy they’re also good value. As is all the menu, in fact: the most expensive dish on the menu is a ‘Tandoor sampler’ at £12.95, which comes served with rice, dahl, vegetables and a nan, and I suspect would feed a small army. However the portions are just about right in general, not quite as daunting as in some Indian restaurants, so you can feel free to order a selection of vegetables without fear of wasting huge amounts. We went for a parsee lamb curry (wonderful complex flavour and quite spicy) and garlic chicken (ditto but milder): both were extremely tender. Saffron pilau rice was delicate, spicy potatoes were wonderful and crispy okra strips were a revelation, a far cry from the glutinous mass I’ve had too often. All the dishes are appetisingly presented in delicate, minimalist china bowls for easy mixing and matching.
In the pudding line there were pistachio, mango and coconut ice creams on offer, as well as a tropical fresh fruit platter and something I really should have tried but had no space for: gulab jamun, which is translated as ‘warm steamed flambéed dumpling’. Got to go back for that…
Chula is also a bar, and the personable barman (who epitomises fusion by being very French) has devised some fusion cocktails which sounded fascinating, to accompany the strong flavours of the food. The wine list is short but good, and though the wine we chose first was still on the delivery van the replacement, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, was delicious and coped perfectly with the spicy food. All the wines are under £11 and beers are also available including, of course, Kingfisher. With a good mix of music ranging from the personification of fusion, Nitin Sawhney, to contemporary r’n’b, the effect was complete.
This is a fun place to be with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and the food is definitely a cut above the average. Well worth a trip, even if it is in Hammersmith.