I passed by the new section at Mall of the Emirates and was looking for a place to have Lunch. P.F. Chang’s was very attractive from the last time I had been there but I wanted something new. Decided to go a little far east. Asha’s Contemporary Indian Cuisine. I thought, lets see what all this design and decor was about.
There were few tables outside, looking at the mall and center water fountain. Inside though, there were a few sections between tables and booths. As I usually Prefer, I took a booth. From the line of booths, you can see the rest of the tables.
Decent decor around the place. Many pictures of Asha, and from what I can understand she owns a recording studio that has accomplished a great deal for the Indian Music Industry, or something like that. Nothing food related.
Staff were polite and asked where we would like to sit, and when we decided a booth, they sat us down and prepared the table. The Napkins had Napkin rings which they removed and checked the table for anything missing. They also handed us the menu.
Due to the musical background, the Menu’s cover was of an old school music record.
The menu had a good selection and variety of Indian Cuisines from Starters, Grills, Main Dishes and more. I am sure vegetarians (and quite a amount of Indians are) would appreciate that there is a dedicated section for that too. The lighting in the place is pretty warm. The booth was not as comfortable as I thought. The quality of the seats were low and the bench was sunk-in in some parts.
As soon as we ordered, they brought Bread and Table Sauces.
Definitely a good Indian touch. Almost every big Indian restaurant I have been to has set this up. There are two types of breads and they look innocent, but the rolled up ones are Spicy! I am not sure of the names of these Breads so I shall not make any mistakes. They were yummy. The Sauces were, as I call them, (from the right to left) Something spicy, Something calm, Something Pickly. As can be seen so far, I do not know much about Indian food, and neither am I a Culinary expert. I review restaurants I go to, just as an ordinary person would walk into one.
For starters we ordered Soups. Lentil Soup and Tomato Soup.
Presentation was simplistic. The taste was good. It tasted like traditional Arabic Lentil soup but had more of a cumin taste to it. It was slightly thick and there was a little bits of rice in the soup. (At first I thought this was some rice that fell into my plate, but the Tomato Soup had too!). It was slightly grainy but not too much.
The Tomato Soup was nicer though!
Same simplistic presentation as the other soup. Consistent for sure. The soup was thick and flavorful. Both soups were warm, just the right temperature. There was a definitive Tomato Flavor with a little spice in the Soup. There were a few bits of Rice as well. If I had to choose between them, I’d definitely go for the Tomato Soup.
For the Main Dish (Again not knowing what I was doing) ordered their Special Kebab Platter.
When ordering it, my initial thought was “Mixed Grill”. The first indication that I was wrong was when the waiter grabbed the spoon and fork and was asking to serve both of us. That clearly struck me as “Okay, this is not a plate for 1 person”.
I told him that its for me, and he said okay and placed it. It seemed like a lot of food, and I was right.
So, the meats:
The Chicken Tikka (The First on the left) were 4 big chunks of Chicken Marinated in their special Tikka sauce. I went ahead and “Fork and Knife’d” my way, only to realize it was a little too spicy to be eaten this way. I do not mean spice in the sense of it being hot, but amount of spices and herbs in it were high. This needed bread to be enjoyed.
The Minced Meat on a Skewer (Kofta is also a name known for this. I am not sure of the Indian Name). They were two long pieces. I, once again, took a cut and ate it. Oh My God! I could gladly eat the Chicken Tikka without bread after this! it had “too much” spices! I could not even tell if it was Meat or Chicken! The Meat was literally Maroon like the outside, throughout! I at least needed to wrap this twice with bread to make any sense.
Do not get me wrong, it was not bad, it just had way too much spices, and I had no clue!
Finally, the Chicken on the right, was Grilled like the Tikka, but seemed very lightly spiced. It reminded me a lot of plain Grilled Chicken Cubes (Or Sheesh Tawooq in Arabic Food). It was very sane! I really enjoyed it, straight with “Fork and Knife” no Bread needed.
I, clearly, was not informed of how this dish shall be! As a person who has not had much Indian Food in the past, I was taken by surprise.
The second Main Dish was a famous Indian Dish, Butter Chicken
This was a delight! The mini-pot had sufficient Chicken and Sauce, and was hot enough to enjoy right away.
The Sauce was buttery, thick, smooth and slightly sweet. Not in the sugary sense, but it had a slight sweetness to it that made it near perfect. The Chicken inside, were all clear pieces of Chicken meat. Very nice dish, and one of the best Butter Chicken dishes I have had. The Sauce alone could have been eaten with bread, it was very good.
This, of course, needed Bread, and we ordered two Plain “Naan”
The two plain Naan’s are actually 4 pieces. They were hot and freshly prepared and slightly crispy. These were initially for the Butter Chicken, but with the highly Spiced situation I was in with the Kebab Platter, I had to take a little! The bread was nice.
The Service: It was good. There were plenty of staff going and coming at all times ready to assist. When we walked in, we were welcomed, greeted and offered places any where we wished. While ordering, the waiter did assist in some of the dishes, but could have informed me about how much spices were in my Platter. They were quick to serve, remove empty plates really quickly and the manager passed by to confirm everything was alright, as well.
There was food left over at the end of the meal which they packed up quite nice for take away.
The staff were polite throughout and thanked us upon leaving.
The Value: This would probably be the downfall, to me personally, of this place. I judge the value of a place based on me, and that is why I do not rate value, I just comment. 1 Large water, 2 Soups, 1 Kebab Platter, 1 Butter Chicken, 2 Plain Naan, and a Sliced Salad (Read Below) came to 268 Dhs. I personally found this a bit over priced. I did not expect Indian Food to be priced this high.
The Sliced Salad was a Tomato sliced, a Cucumber sliced and an onion sliced, and was priced at 24 Dhs. Two plain Naan came at 25 Dhs. The Soup was 35 Dhs each. I personally think that is a bit over priced, especially the Salad and Bread.
The Place: 6 / 10
The Service: 7 / 10
The Food 5.5 / 10
I’d recommend this place. If you do not know much about Indian food, I’d recommend you to inquire how spicy your order might be and how they would recommend eating it (Bread, Rice, etc)