Hidden between The War Horse Theatre and an Indian restaurant in Drury Lane is an incongruous doorway leading to what appears to be a nightclub. But at the end of a bleak corridor you’ll actually find a fabulous pan-Asian restaurant. Tamarai, meaning lotus root (which explains the many colourful pictures on the walls) has been voted Best Late Night Bar in UK and Best Wine List in London and is one of the most popular late night destinations in London – there’s an in-house DJ and Video Jockey downstairs.
We were led across the dancefloor to a surprisingly pleasant dining area. The music was mellow and just the right volume, the seats squashy and plush, and the lights extremely dimmed. We started with cocktails at £7.95 each – delicious and fruity but not overwhelming. A cosmopolitan came in an impressive glass that looked like more like a vase. We felt very special.
The detox menu took our fancy (£35 for four light courses) but if that doesn’t appeal you can pick and choose as each dish is individually priced.
First up was a celery and carrot salad – seriously filling with an incredible depth of flavour and overtones of crispy duck roll somehow (chettinad spice I presume). It was the first time I had taste a pomelo which looks a bit like grapefruit, but added to the salad (I usually dislike fruit with savory). The tofu in herb ginseng broth was pleasant but unremarkable, apart from the firm lotus root which is a bit of an acquired taste but the fish dumpling (seabass) was stunning, soft, rich and yet delicately flavoured. For my friend it was her first meeting with quinoa and she was so impressed she is going home to try cooking it.
To accompany the main meal we opted for a glass of wine (they only do two by the glass). It was quite steep at over £7 a glass but luckily it was so good you wouldn’t need a second. The bottled water was good value at £1.95 a bottle – a nice surprise for those who often get charged a fortune when they’re not dinking.
As we weren’t dieting, we decided we could squeeze in some more dishes. We chose two more starters: caramel and Szechuan pepper king prawns and beef satay. The prawns were huge, crispy and spicy with an incredible toffee flavour, yet not overly sweet. The beef melted like butter and came with a delicate dipping sauce that complimented the juicy meat. These dishes were so impressive, the flavours just kept coming after we’d finished each mouthful that we wished we had space for more. We finished off our meal with a non-alcoholic cocktail – a large glass containing coconut, strawberry and coriander. Delicious. And as a red wine addict that’s saying something!
We left feeling special, pampered and thoroughly satisfied – what a lovely experience. Tamari is the sort of place you should go when you deserve a treat. We’ll definitely be going back for more.
Don’t miss the exciting events that Tamarai hosts and make the most of the latest, irresistible offer – half-price Mojitos available from 10.00pm till midnight.
by Alison Christie