Restaurant Review: Raja Monkey, Birmingham.


Birmingham’s current fondness for all things Indian Street Food is in a word becoming interesting though maybe the beginning of its undoing. With two new street food places due to open before Autumn snuggles into Winter, and one recent one Indian Streatery doing well in the centre of Birmingham, you may easily forget the original cafe in Brum that is the funky Raja Monkey.

Owned by the good kids of the Lasan group it strikes one instantly of the organisation and sophistication of its big brother Lasan (though on a smaller more intimate street food scale). Here you find the same high quality ingredients, the same beautiful attentive, polite and obliging service, and the same attention to detail in the cooking, that has heralded lasan as one of best, if not the best Indian palace of gastronomy in Birmingham.

The dishes are simpler here at the roadside Dhaba like Raja Monkey and more authentic.

The dishes show a vibrant complexity of flavours, spicing and cooking that is the sale of the century when you tally it with the price of the dishes.

To say the food is outstanding is in a way to undersell the joy that I experienced. I’ve been before (with Ruth) and salivated over the veggie Thalis and supreme dosas. And yes I’ve eaten so many takeaways from these guys that I’d hate to count up the total bill. Yet compared to some other more recent openings on the Indian Street Food trail Raja Monkey is the Manchester United to the Aston Villa (and I’m a villa fan). One that others should learn from in its effortless simplicity and devotion to the diner having a fine night out.

On this occasion my dining partner wasn’t Ruth, but a guy called Paul (Ruth did know where I was, so I wasn’t dodging fatherly duties, but then I may have been slightly!)

To say Raja Monkey is intimate is an understatement though it’s size doesn’t detract from the comfort of the comfortable long bench seats that recreates the informal rustic street food cafe look well. The walls adorned with retro pictures and artefacts with the faint sound of Indian music in the distance conjures up the road side cafe image it sets out to be.

The food is influenced by the Southern Indian cuisine of the continent.

Set off from the busy Stratford Road in the Hall Green part of Birmingham, Raja Monkey greets and meets that neighbourhood eatery concept well.

The Popodoms or Papads we ate whilst looking at the menu were crisp, served with a deliciously sweet yogurt Raita that had a delicious flavour.

I ate a Samosa Chaat, Chickpeas, potatoes, fried samosa pastry, served cold, piled high, with a soothing spicing that tickled the mouth and danced in the club of classic curry dishes and then somehow betters them making you sigh and dip into your cold beer with joy. An instant satisfying joy.

I also tried the Pau Bhaji, a deeply satisfying Street Food snack of mashed veg Bhaji with roasted pau buns, brioche like with uplifting flavours and spicing made with panache. A very satisfying starter.

We both moved onto a Vegetable Kadai a melange of veggies in a masaledar gravy. Colourful crunchy vegetables with an appetising appearance. Rich with tomatoes, a good chilli heat gave the veg a rich textured flavour that rewarded generously.

Mopped up with an appreciative Roti it was a sensational dish of perfect spicing and immaculate cooking.

A delight of a vegetarian curry.

To finish, a lip smacking soft and spongy Rasmalai was enjoyed. A melt in your mouth texture, and the perfect refreshing pallet cleanser after a spicy curry.

A pudding of pure joy.

Raja Monkey Excels with its Brilliant Vegetarian cooking. They make use of quality ingredients and thoughtful spicing with an artistic touch of sophistication, all without the pomp. It’s self confident and on a Tuesday night the food hit the curry longing spot like a Romalau Lukaku shot on the turn.

Raja Monkey always been good, but to be honest now It excels.

For a sublime, but informal curry with a great value price maybe it can’t be beaten in Birmingham and for Vegetarians if it’s not on your list of places to visit or revisit then I’m afraid you don’t deserve promotion to the Premier league.

A true road side cafe.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

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Thanks to Paul Fulford for the invite to dine with him at Raja Monkey. My food and drink was complimentary but all views expressed are my own.

Our Food was washed down by a couple of Cobra lagers.

Raja Monkey, 1355 Stratford Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, B28 9HH.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<
commend a take away from Raja Monkey. Menu on website.

http://www.rajamonkey.co.uk/

My previous review is here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/vegiefoodie.com/2015/01/23/raja-monkey-authentic-indian-street-food-in-birmingham/amp/

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Raja Monkey: authentic Indian street food in Birmingham


Raja Monkey is in Hall Green in the south part of Birmingham. It’s the small brother in the Lasan Group which includes award winning Lasan and Argentinian Fiesta Del Asada.

It’s based on the true indian road cafe that is found traditionally providing soul food around the old atmospheric streets of India. It’s rustic, colourful, and vibrant filled with a cosy charm of charming service and delicious harmonious cooking aromas.

It has a relaxed feel, like a cafe with a difference, you can feel the quality of the cooking just by being there and knowing the Lasan reputation.

You notice the open kitchen with chefs making dosas, and content in their craft. It makes for a fun atmosphere, making you feel almost part of the kitchen.

The menu includes traditional street food, Dosa’s, Thali’s and snack like starters, ideal for grazing.

For vegetarians it’s paradise, with so many tempting dishes to choose from.

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The restaurant is on the Stratford Road opposite Waitrose in Hall Green nestled amongst a few shops.

On a midweek night Ruth and I braved the snowy air and the freezing temperatures and walked into Raja Monkey to find a cosy and warm hearted place. We had never eaten inside the restaurant before, but had enjoyed numerous take aways since it opened.

In fact we’ve raved about the quality of Raja Monkey’s take aways to anyone that would listen, it’s our go to take away in South Birmingham.

In order to test the quality we both ordered Papads (poppudums) to nibble on.

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They were crisp and fresh. The chutney and pickles that accompanied them were excellent, a good selection including a cool yoghurt dip all presented in tiny silver pots with lids on- very sweet.

After much deliberation on what dishes to choose Ruth decided to have as a way of a starter the
vegetarian Masala Aloo Dosa:

A Dosa is a popular Southern Indian savoury street food fermented crepe created from rice, butter, and lentils stuffed with a filling of choice meat or veg and served with coconut chutney.

The Masala Aloo Dosa was filled with crushed potatoes fragranced with turmeric, mustard seeds with curry leaves and wrapped in a delicious crepe. Ruth loved her Dosa, hot off the griddle, made in front of your eyes, it had a good balance of flavours, crispy, nutty, and was well recommended.

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I chose the Samosa Chaat.

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A pickling savoury snack of a vegetable samosa, chick peas, tomato, onion relish, coated with yoghurt, tamarind and green chutney and finished with chaat masala and Papdi.

The flavours and textures of this dish were lovely. The layers of samosa deconstructed almost and lightly meshed into the chick peas, yoghurt and chutney felt so like Indian street food that the sounds and atmosphere of India filled this tiny corner of Hall Green and warmed the cockles of my heart. I can’t praise the Samosa Chaat enough. So very very good.

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For our next course we both chose to order the house speciality The Thali.

A Thali meaning plate, comprised of a selection of various dishes served on a silver platter compartmentalised so that you can either eat them as you see them in turn or you can tip the small platters into the larger platter and eat them as a normal curry. The choice is yours. We did both.

Ruth chose the Rajosthali mutton thali. She loved it, I can tell as she went quiet-as she was eating.

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Rajosthali

I chose the vegetarian thali called the Shakarkand thali.

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Comprising of sweet potato and cashew nut kofta, in a melon and poppy seed curry served with rice, dhal, bread and a vegetable selection (salad and a veg curry)

In total 6 components.

The centrepiece was the potato and cashew nut kofta. Heavenly succulent balls of sweet, potato, against the spice of the poppy seed and melon curry , lovely, a divine marriage of sweet and hot flavours. A warming curry for a cold night.

Alongside there was a deliciously soothing Dhal, a fenugreek and coriander Paratha (a flatbread) from South Asia which when cooked is layered. Lovely, a stunningly flavoured bread.

Then a veggie curry that was spicy, and an excellent accompaniment.

I loved this way of eating food.

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We both had room for pudding, well who can’t resist a creamy home made Indian pudding.

We both love Rasmalai and we were pleased it was on the menu.

As a definition Ras means ‘juice’ and Malai means ‘cream’

You can almost describe it as a cheese cake without the biscuit layer or cottage cheese or soft paneer cheese balls. It was lovely, cooling, fresh, the kind of pud you can fall in love with. The soft cheese immersed in chilled sweet creamy milk.

A lip smacking pudding.

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Raja Monkey shares with Lasan a commitment to quality ingredients and soulful cooking, less fancy, more street, but for good value, comfort Indian soul food it can’t be beat.

For vegetarians it’s a must.

So many dishes to choose.

From experience of Raja Monkey’s takeaways and from this meal all veggie dishes are recommended.

The service was attentive, informal, but with a keenness to explain the dishes and served with a passion and pride that is genuine.

Raja Monkey provided Ruth and I with a highly enjoyable meal, Central heating on a cold night.

Raja Monkey is one to return to again and again, without hesitation. Bravo.

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We also ordered 2 bottles of Cobra beer and 2 glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and two delicious espressos.

Raja Monkey,
1355 Stratford Road
Birmingham
B28 9HW

0121 777 9090

http://www.rajamonkey.co.uk

Twitter: @rajamonkeycafe

Facebook: rajamonkey

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We dined as guests of Raja Monkey and the Lasan Group. All food and drinks were complimentary, but I was not obliged to write a good review, but a fair one. All my opinions are honest and my own (and Ruth’s of course)

Thanks for reading.

@andydhare

Facebook: Andy Hare
and Veggie Foodie

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