RESTAURANT REVIEW: Venetia van Kuffeler visits the Michelin-starred Belgravia favourite, Amaya
AMAYA IS THE SISTER restaurant of the hugely successful Chutney Mary (originally in Chelsea and now in a grand corner venue in St James), along with the long-established and iconic Michelin starred Veeraswamy on Regent Street. I recall Amaya opening its doors back in 2004, when London’s most avant-gardeIndian restaurant burst on the scene, setting the trend for a new wave of Indian cuisine. Amaya won the Best Restaurant and the Best New Restaurant awards at the London Restaurant Awards in 2005, and has had a Michelin Star since 2006. But how is it almost 15 years on?
At the moment, the building is unfortunately hidden behind construction works on Motcomb Street, a charming ‘village’ with cobblestones, pretty courtyards, low-level Georgian architecture and clutch of boutiques. Behind the façade, Amaya’s allure is still alive and well: the restaurant’s amber colour scheme is complimented by a combination of deep orange leather chairs, brightly coloured paintings from Kerala and Bengal and attractive terracotta sculptures.
Amaya’s concept is a contemporary take on age-old traditions. In the open kitchen, chefs display three core Indian grilling styles: Tandoor(in a hot clay oven), Sigri(cooking over a coal flame) and Tawa(searing and griddling on a very hot plate). It is quite a spectacle to watch. Food is meant for sharing, and we were advised to choose up to six or seven plates from the menu. Arriving in waves, the food was an extravagant display of surf and turf: a multitude of fresh quality ingredients, bathed and dipped in secret combinations before being grilled and seared.
There were zingy minced chicken lettuce parcels, plump king scallops griddled and served in a rich, green herb sauce scooped up with naan bread and black pepper chicken tikka with a pepper marinade. The stars of the show were the melt-in-the-mouth tandoori ocean wild prawns, marinated in a tangy tomato and ginger sauce and blackened around the edges from the open flame. Last came the griddled flaked crab cake along with perfectly crunchy tandoori broccoli served on a bed of ginger yoghurt. Delicious. It was lunchtime, so we stopped there, but on another visit, I’d be keen to taste the Raan Mussalam (leg of baby lamb, slow roasted royal cumin and garam masala) or the tandoori sirloin boti with a mellow spiced marinade. For vegetarians, the kitchen has over 15 tempting options, like the snow pea, fennel and edamame salad with a cumin dressing.
An epicurean adventure of eclectic Indian dishes exquisitely presented, Amaya is a great place to take someone you are keen to impress. Furthermore, Amaya is open seven days a week and the private dining room can take bookings of up to 14 people.
AMAYA, MOTCOMB STREET, HALKIN ARCADE, LONDON SW1X 8TJ
T:+44 (0)20 7823 1166