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Internationally acclaimed award-winning restaurant Asha’s opened in Solihull last month with its high-end Indian food offering.
There are a handful of other branches around the world, but this is the second site in the Midlands (the other is in Birmingham) and only the third in the UK (there’s one in Manchester, too).
The restaurant is named after one of India’s most famous singers and actresses, Asha Bhosle, photographs of whom are dotted around the walls.
Asha’s location on the upper mall of Touchwood Shopping Centre means that it benefits from a high footfall. The venue’s mood lighting and culturally influenced interior ensures it feels both classy and inviting.
Directed to a booth by a friendly member of staff, we were shown both the lunch and à la carte menus. My partner had a pint of Kingfisher, Asha’s only draught beer, whilst I enjoyed a Rickshaw Fizz vodka-based cocktail. This not only looked beautiful but tasted wonderful. The drinks service itself was slightly slow considering there were only a handful of covers being managed at the time, but the quality of my Rickshaw Fizz was definitely worth the wait.
Some of the food is duplicated in both menus, but we both decided on the lunchtime option, as there was a good variety of dishes available. Whilst waiting for our appetisers, we received a basket with four varieties of papadoms and a spicy mint sauce to enjoy.
To start, we had the meat kebab and vegetarian kebab platters to share. The first dish included the incredibly tender chicken tikka kebab, fiery lamb seekh kebab and tasty king prawn tikka.
The vegetarian options were paneer ka soola, aloo tikka and papdi chat. I’m not a vegetarian, but I could certainly adapt to the lifestyle if this was the food on offer!
My partner chose his ‘go-to’ Indian main, chicken tikka masala, which was as beautifully cooked and spiced as the taster portion in the starter. The large chicken pieces are substantial, and the dish comes together with pulao rice, vegetable raita and naan bread. I decided on the lamb rogan josh, and whilst I wouldn’t usually choose lamb, this was beautifully cooked and perfectly balanced.
To round off this incredible meal, we were treated to a platter of desserts, which was a new experience for me. The four mini puddings consisted of gajar ka halwa, gulab jamun, rasmalai and mango-kesari pista kulfi. The gulab jamun greatly appealed to my sweet tooth, whilst the mango-kesari pista kulfi was a lovely palate cleanser, along with a sorbet. The texture of the gajar ka halwa was a little unusual and not quite to my taste. It is, however, a classic Indian dessert and was brilliantly presented.
My overwhelming feeling about the Asha’s experience is that it’s excellent value for the quality of flavoursome food and warm service you receive.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the restaurant to others and can’t wait to go back again.
***** Jenny Ell
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