16 October 2019: Khas - A touch of khas
With so many curry houses in Tooting, there are surprisingly few with waterfalls in them. In fact there is only one. Well, there was only one until it closed. Fortunately, Masaledar's closure was only a temporary refurb arrangement and, whilst it lost its name in the process, the water feature still flows on. Having not been to Masaledar for a good few years it was only right to give this new reincarnation a visit. Would the re-fit be a hit or would it be style over substance? Tom, Louise and I went to find out.
They say you only get one chance to make a good first impression and Masaledar's rebirth, Khas, takes its chance well. On the corner of Derinton and Upper Tooting Roads, its high charcoal grey, wood and brick frontage and large gold L-shaped motif are quite an imposing sight. Set into the walls are long flanks of bi-fold windows that are themselves lined with potted shrubs, both adding a further touch of class on the otherwise ordinary high street.
If the outside wasn't impressive enough, a night-club style side entrance is just the start of a series of interior furnishings that really catch the eye. The generously spaced covers sit across two levels of chevron wooden flooring and are divided memorably by the centrepiece waterfall. Furthermore, the view out to Tesco Express over the road doesn't begin to do justice to the plush yellow seats, marble tables and parquet-style railings that line the windows. Nor does it compare to the gold trimmed mirrors, lamps and wall dividers that dazzle with their geometric patterns and the glints of light they reflect. The result is, as the website suggests, an unforgettable dining experience that is unrivalled locally, even by the opulent Spice Village. Indeed, no expense or detail is spared in this rather grandiose restaurant that feels quite out of place in Tooting's typically more utilitarian surround. Add bring your own alcohol to the mix and Khas really isn't to be missed.
Starters and sides
It would be a lot for the food to live up to the glorious surrounds, but its what we were here for. First up were poppadoms that raised no eyebrows with their accompanying onion chilli and mango chutnies, but the mixed grill flattered to deceive with its £17.95 price tag. Its spread of chops, seekh kebabs, tikka pieces and wings weren't up to scratch with the nearby offerings at both Spice Village and Lahore Spices. A nice rub on the chops was a highlight, but the fewer number of pieces and slightly less tender meat meant it was more satisfactory than tantalising. The naans and pilau rice were good, but nothing notably special. Another visit with a wider choice of starters might prove more favourable, but it's a slightly underwhelming 6/10 to kick things off this time.
PS. On this occasion we learnt that Louise actually doesn't like it when we have a mixed grill as a starter. Unfortunately, we'd suspected this all along, but just haven't cared enough to do anything about it. Sorry, not sorry Louise!
As at New Delis earlier in the year, Tom and Louise's appetites weren't the greatest so it wasn't a huge order for the mains. A bit of a let down really, as was Tom's choice of three non-alcoholic beers while Louise and I shared wine. However, most disappointing was his lack of contribution to the ordering (and the blog in general for that matter). With little input it was a panicked choice of two karahis that ultimately proved identical in flavour but for their respective meats.
Despite their similarity the two karahis (prawn and chicken) were still good, with slightly more tomato base than usual, and more vegetable texture added by thick green chilli and red pepper chunks. This meant the flavour was sweeter than the more savoury, meatier karahis found elsewhere.Both were decent, but others at the likes of Spice Village, Lahore Spices, Dawat and Lahore Karahi are better and also larger.
I'd like to return for a wider perspective on the food here, but based on this visit it's a 7/10 for Curry.
Service on our visit was slightly smarter and more personal than usual in Tooting, which is befitting of the more luxurious settings, but wasn't anymore memorable as a result. It was nevertheless perfectly fit and proper and a cause of no complaints.
Do note, Khas is cash only, but there is an ATM just over the road so no real inconvenience caused as a result.
Value for money
At £67 between three for a mixed grill, two curries and sundries the bill was on the toppier end of the scale for Tooting, but pretty reasonable nonetheless. Curries are about £10 which is a couple more than the likes of Mirch Masala, but you're arguably paying for an all-round nicer dining experience. The mixed grill wasn't as good value as up the road, but otherwise nothing was shockingly expensive and you do get the added value of BYOB if that's your game.
Masaledar was always a slightly elevated dining experience from the usual hustle and bustle locally, however, Khas has taken that a step further with a genuinely impressive interior. The food was always reliable at Masaledar too and this is still the case. Even if some of the dishes we tried weren't the best they were certainly good quality. I still prefer the food elsewhere, but a return visit is definitely needed to sample the breadth of the menu. In the meantime I'd certainly recommend you check Khas out, least not for a slightly fancier meal or special occasion.
Address: 121 Upper Tooting Rd, Tooting, London SW17 7TJ
Alcohol Policy: BYOB
Summary: Modern and stylish restaurant in the heart of Tooting