27 Jan 2023: Vijaya Krishna - 12 years gone
This is our second review of Vijaya Krishna. You can read our first review from 2012 here.
It's been a loooong time since I've been to Vijaya Krishna, but not for want of trying. I've tried a number of times to visit recently only to be scuppered by there being no room at the inn - clearly a popular place. Finally, I got my act together to book and reserved a table for myself and Spellins for an early Friday night meal prior to some pub football action.
On my last visit twelve years ago Vijaya Krishna had a rather tired looking burgundy coloured facade. Nowadays the street face of this corner restaurant is a smart white with gold lettering - a tidy upgrade. Inside the fresher theme continues, with clean cream walls, soft lighting, and the odd touch of green from some token plants. Two huge wicker lampshades draw the attention from above while south Indian art - the same as before - dots the walls.
The most noticeable change has been the removal of table cloths moving the restaurant from a slightly stuffy, more traditional 'British' curry house into a more contemporary dining setting.
All in all, Vijaya Krishna is pleasant and more peaceful than its larger, busier neighbours on Tooting High Street, however, beyond this there is little memorable that sets this venue apart. It does the job.
Starters and Sides
Green Chilli Paratha
With just two of us dining, the order wasn't large. For starters it was cashew pakoda (pakora) , a unique twist on this deep fried snack which proved a welcome, crunchy appetiser.
More conventional was our prawn puri starter. A prawn masala inside two rather limp puri. The dish as a whole didn't look the part of the best, but the flavours were good and authentic enough.
Like the puri bread, the green chilli paratha was also fairly average and of the thicker, denser paratha variety. It still packed a piquant punch, but this wasn't enough to set the starters and sides alight.
Appelley Lamb Roast
Kerala Fish Curry
For the mains it was another taste of Kerala with the Appelley lamb roast and Kerala fish curry. Named after the backwaters port where the famous houseboats set sail, the lamb roast was a dense nest of firey lamb morcels and caramelized onion strands. Certainly tasty, the meat wasn't the most tender and onions seem to have been the order of the day with the prawn, lamb and fish dishes all padded out a little too much with allium. That wasn't the main criticism of the fish curry though, I'm afraid. The white fish was over-cooked and chewy which left it floundering for just a 6/10 for mains.
At a guess I would say this was a family run affair, similar to Kolam locally. The service is therefore more at ease, deferential, and reverent than the often slap dash approach of other Tooting eateries. It wasn't too busy when we were there, but the pacing of courses was good. And the draft beers were as fresh as the manners throughout.
Value For Money
Value for money here is just fine. We paid about £30 each which isn't the worst nor best. Just over £10 for the mains is reasonable, but as we know, far cheaper can be found elsewhere locally. The lack of BYOB adds a further weakness, even if the £5.50 for pints of Cobra is competitive. You could certainly have a wider range of starters for good value, but on this occassion, with the curry a little disappointing it's just a 6/10.
Vijaya Krishna is no doubt a Tooting favourite. It certainly offers something different and more relaxed in terms of vibe to the (typically) Pakistani diners nearby, matched only really by fellow south Indian restaurants, Kolam and Radha Krishna Bhavan. However, on this showing I'm not sure the food is quite up to scratch with RKB or the excellent Dosa N Chutney, with the latter certainly my first choice for south Indian in the area. Certainly the fish curry is better elsewhere - my benchmark for good Keralan food - and too much onion filling out all the dishes gives the air of slightly out dated practices. Hopefully this was just a bad day, but it's a slightly disappointing 33 in total.
Address: 114 Mitcham Rd, London SW17 9NG
Cuisine: South Indian
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Quieter South Indian restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of the high street.