Seeing as mine and Polly’s birthdays were only a day apart, we decided to stretch our birthdays out for as long as possible and celebrate together with a meal at Raja Monkey Cafe in Hall Green. It was the first time either of us had visited, but after hearing so many great things about the food here and knowing it was part of the Lasan Group, we knew we’d be in store for a great meal.
When we arrived we were greeted by one of the friendly waiters who looked after us all night. On our way to our table, we walked past the open kitchen and it only increased our excitement for the food we’d be eating seeing it being prepared and cooked in front of us!
To start I ordered the fish platter of Fish Amritsari, Salmon Mahi and Fish Tikiya. The Fish Amritsari was a battered Punjabi fish, which was tasty but too spicy for my liking. The Salmon Mahi was a succulent, chunky piece of tandoori salmon marinated in yogurt and coriander that added a wonderful, delicately spiced flavour. But my favourite of the three was the Fish Tikiya, a South Indian spiced fish pattie, as it was packed with so much flavour. However overall I found the starter far too spicy for my personal taste and a few glasses of water were needed to cool down the fire in my mouth afterwards…I am a complete spice wimp though!
Raja Monkey Cafe have a selection of Thalis to choose from for main course which include a curry of your choice, rice, naan bread, dhal and a vegetable curry (this changes daily). It works out as really good value for money too and I loved that it gives you the chance to try lots of different little things. I opted for the Rajasthani Thali – mutton cooked with ground red chilli, whole cardamom and cloves simmered slowly in bone marrow stock.
As we now know I’m not good with spice, so I thought it would be best to ask how spicy the curry was. They said it was medium spiced and they were more than happy to make it a little milder for me to suit my taste. The mutton curry was the star dish of the night for me – the mutton was so succulent and tender, and the sauce had so much flavour. It was just delicious! The naan bread was flavoured with garlic and coriander and I was glad it came with the thali so that I could mop up all of the delicious mutton curry. The yellow dhal was also really tasty too and another of my favourite dishes off the platter. However, I didn’t like the vegetable curry at all and thought it was just like a bland, watery but overly spiced tomato sauce.
We were both absolutely stuffed and couldn’t finish our thalis, so decided to pass on dessert this time. However, we received a lovely surprise when the waiting staff brought out a mini chocolate cake for our birthday too!
The food at Raja Monkey Cafe was fantastic and some of the most flavoursome Indian food I’ve had before. Along with the friendly service, relaxed atmosphere and decent prices, it made for an overall great experience. Although it’s a little out of the way and not as easy to get to as some venues in the city centre, it’s well worth a trip to Hall Green for their delicious food!
Disclosure: I paid for my own meal and drinks, and all opinions expressed are honest and my own