29 November 2018: Gopal's Corner - That's all she roti
I'm a big fan of the Victoria line - there is no quicker way to get from south to north London - but I've never been a big fan of Victoria itself. There aren't really any decent watering holes nearby and unless you're working in the area or going to see Wicked it's hardly an end destination. And don't even get me started on Victoria Coach Station - it's up there with some of the bleakest places in the UK.
So when I saw that a new food hall was opening near Victoria station I made a note to check it out as a potentially decent place to eat and drink in the area. Then, when I heard it was to house a new stall from Euston's Roti King, I was booking in a visit faster than you can say pop along for a poppadom.
My cousin Michael has just moved to London so I brought him along for his first London Curry Blog experience. Studying for a journalism degree, I suggested he help write this review, but in the end he contributed nothing.
As alluded to, Gopal's Corner can be found in the newly opened Victoria Market Halls from the people behind Fulham's very same. The Halls can be found opposite the main station on Terminus Place or reached from an entrance on Victoria Street.
The converted Edwardian shopping arcade retains some of it's original features, notably it's ironwork structure and vaulted glass ceiling, and in doing so mixes rustic charm with more contemporary design.
A quick Google will tell you that Gopal is the infant/child form of Lord Krishna, the cowherd boy who enchanted the cowherd maidens with the divine sound of his flute. Disappointingly, there were no juvenile flautists to greet us, but the music (predominantly 90's Mancunian rock classics) was very welcome and contributed to the positive vibes of the busy hall.
The eatery itself is confusingly not found in a corner at all but at the top of the central staircase, drawing the eye and taking centre stage as you climb to the first floor. There isn't much to the concession itself as it shares dining space with the other traders, but a Malaysian flag below the counter is a nod to the cuisine on offer.
Overall, Gopal's Corner benefits from the hype and hubbub of the Halls and retains its parent restaurant's casual vibe, but also its limited table space!
7/10 for Venue
Starters and sides & Curry
Roti Canai with Fish Kari
Roti Canai with Mutton Kari
Banana Leaf Rice with Chicken Peratal
On account of the cross over in these dishes, I've decided to review the three together, rather than mark Starters and Sides and Curry separately as I usually do.
Malaysian food isn't typically in this blog's sights but Gopal's (like it's parent restaurant Roti King) has the Keralan influenced canai roti and kari as key components of its menu. We opted for two roti canai dishes, one with the fish kari the other with mutton. Both came with two of Gopal's finest 'flying bread' roti which once again proved the perfect curry accompaniment with their doughy inner texture and delightfully crisp outer layers. Freshly torn and dipped into the fish and mutton kari, these really melt in the mouth. Bread heaven, that is second to naan.
The karis themselves were thin in consistency, but packed a thick, flavour punch. Notes of cumin and tongue-tingling spice underpinned both, with the mutton variant slightly richer and meatier in flavour and the zingy fish slightly more sour. Unfortunately, the lamb wasn't the most tender, with the fish even tougher. As a result, neither were quite as good as those served up at Roti King, but both still match their unique flavour.
More impressive, and exclusive to Gopal's, was the banana leaf rice dish. This is a plate that is both a feast for the eyes and tastebuds with the bold green of the banana leaf providing the perfect canvas for the colorful meal components. Like a painters palette for the palate, it is served with two vegetable dishes of the day, rice, a green chilli dip, appalam (poppadom), and a choice from a variety of meat mains. We picked the chicken peratal, a dry-rubbed chicken leg with smokey, Tamil kari flavours. This savoury orange sauce was great with the perfectly cooked rice, while vegetable sides of okra and cabbage added a more contrasting, sweetness.
All in all, the three dishes provided a fantastic south Indian inspired medley. With the karis slightly letting the side down it's a 8/10 for Starters and sides and a still respectable 7/10 for Curry.
There isn't table service here as the overall experience is far more fast-casual than fine dining. Instead, as is common now, you order at the kiosk and receive a buzzer that flashes when your food is ready. We barely waited any time at all and, after we'd finished, Market Halls cleaning staff were every efficient in clearing our trays away. In the circumstances you can't ask for much more!
Value for money
Kari portions here are noticeably less generous than at Roti King and prices are a touch higher than in Euston (£7.95 vs. £6.50). The banana leaf dish was also quite pricey at £12.95, even if you might expect to pay a premium given the location. Quality is still high, but relative to what can be found elsewhere it's a (slightly harsh) 6/10 for Value here.
Victoria Market Halls didn't disappoint and neither did Gopal's Corner. Both are welcome additions to London's host of covered market options. Whilst slightly more expensive and not quite the original, there's finally a more efficient alternative to queuing for Roti King's signature wares. Definitely worth a visit it's a strong 35/50 in total.
Address: Market Halls Victoria, 191 Victoria St, London SW1E 5NE
Cuisine: Malaysian with Keralan influence
Alcohol Policy: Bar in shared food hall
Summary: A new restaurant from Euston's hugely popular Roti King in the bustling surrounds of Victoria Market Halls food hall