Tel: +44 (0)20 7727 5420
Address: 13-15 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UA
Cuisine Type: Indian
nearest tube station Bayswater, Queensway

I have been to Khan’s more times than I care to remember, not because the food is fantastic, the service exceptional or even from convenience; arguably, in fact, quite the opposite. But when I meet up with friends, we somehow, through a subconscious (and misguided) sense of loyalty or pure lack of imagination and initiative, end up here. It’s not a terrible place; it just isn’t all that great either.

For a start, it is nearly always packed out, so waiting by the entrance, with the waiters scowling at you for being in their way, is an almost inevitable precursor to being seated at a characterless Formica table. The menus are whisked in front of you, offering a choice of the “standard” Indian fare; definitely no surprises here, but at least you know what to expect.

Once ordered, food arrives quickly, conjuring up images of large vats of pre-cooked curry, ladled out on demand. None of the food we’ve eaten here has been unpalatable, and some of it has even been quite good, in a “don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed” kind of way. Some dishes can be quite heavy, oily and filling, so beware of the “eyes bigger than stomach” syndrome. I remain yet to be convinced of any scientific basis behind the coding of dishes in the menu, by a heart symbol, as “healthy”.

Butter chicken (£5.45), in a butter, cream, coconut, cashew and masala sauce is the antithesis of everything that is healthy and nutritious, but we can’t help ordering it every time. King prawn bhuna (£8.25) and chicken dhansak (£3.95) are also favourites, the sauces perfect with pilau rice or naan bread. Side orders of sag paneer (£3.05), Indian cottage cheese with spinach, and sag alu (£3.05), spinach with potatoes, are also regular orders.

However, not all dishes are as good, and we’ve avoided tandoori chicken (£3.25 for half; £5.90 for a whole) due to its unnaturally red hue, which could only have been achieved through the use of food colouring. Chicken korma (£3.95), in an almond, coconut and cream sauce, has just been one heavy dish too many.

We are always too full for dessert, but again, the usual culprits are all served – ice cream,kulfi and gulab jamun. Drinks here are all non-alcoholic, but neither the food nor the ambience are really conducive to wine.

Each time we leave, we promise to try another restaurant next time we meet, and yet time and time again, we find ourselves back in the familiar surroundings of this rather tacky venue, the age of which is beginning to show. Maybe because it is cheap. Maybe because we know exactly what to expect. But maybe also because, in a perverse kind of way, we actually like it.

– Tracy Yam, 2/2004

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