It is certainly the weather for a warming curry, and when it comes to Indian food there is nobody we trust more than the Oakham Curry Club, or OCC (who helped out our sister site Urban Family over Diwali). With the motto, "May your poppadoms be crispy, your sauces be tasty and your curry spicy," these curry enthusiasts visit one Indian restaurant a month.
The Shanghai branch, the third internationally following on from the original in Oakham, UK and a second in Hong Kong, was founded at the beginning of 2017. It is now 17 members strong, and they grade each restaurant anonymously over five categories – service, quality, customer care, atmosphere and value – with an average score worked out from that.
Without futher ado, over to OCC Vice-Chairman Andrew Cameron, who is ready to announce the 2017 Curry House of the Year, or CHOTY.
we visited some very good restaurants this year (along with some not so
good), but the highlight was undoubtedly Kebabs on the Grille at Cool
Docks. Everything about the meal was what the OCC hopes to see in curry
houses not just around Shanghai, but around the world.
We were greeted at the door by the owner, while the waiters were knowledgeable, helped with ordering and ensured everything went smoothly. The restaurant itself was busy and pleasantly decorated, and prices felt to be reasonable for the quality on offer. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the food itself was fantastic.
With this in mind, the Shanghai branch of the Oakham Curry Club is very pleased to present the Curry House of the Year award for 2017 to Kebabs on the Grille at Cool Docks.
OCC score: 8.2
Dish to order: Any of their kebabs
See a listing for Kebabs on the Grille.
In addition to the overall CHOTY, any restaurant that scored above seven out of 10 also received the official OCC mark of approval; a sticker to be displayed proudly on the front of the venue. We’d compare it to a Michelin star, but with only six in existence, they’re statistically much rarer. It is the OCC’s hope that these stickers will serve as beacons to guide Shanghai residents towards the best curry the city has to offer. Here they are, starting with our CHOTY runner-up.
next to its sister restaurant and the similarly OCC-approved Masala Art
on Dagu Lu (see below), Masala Desi specializes in Indian street food – but don’t
let that fool you into thinking they skimp on quality. The restaurant
offers a homelier feel than Masala Art which goes well with the food on
offer, while members were also impressed by the attentiveness of the
OCC score: 7.7
Dish to order: Samosa chaat
See a listing for Masala Desi.
care – the willingness for a restaurant to go the extra mile – is
constantly on display at Kaveen’s. The owner Vic (Kaveen is his son)
spends the evening flitting between tables, making sure his guests are
well taken care of. More importantly, he’s also an amateur magician and
is more than happy to dazzle guests with an array of genuinely
impressive tricks. The food itself was decent if not spectacular, but in
a city where taking care of the customers is often an after-thought,
Kaveen’s stands head and shoulders above the competition.
OCC score: 7.6
Dish to order: Samosas
See a listing for Kaveen's Kitchen.
Nestled away in Tianzifang, Lotus Land stretches out over a number of floors with some nice views over the laneways. Some tables even have barefoot seating on the floor if that’s your cup of chai. Whereas other places in Tianzifang are often short on quality, as the scores suggest, Lotus Land is anything but. Worth a visit.
OCC score: 7.4
Dish to order: Salmon masala – a nice twist on a classic
See a listing for Lotus Land.
Although somewhat lacking in spice, Vedas just does quality Indian food, simple as that. The décor is a nice touch as well, with an atmosphere that lends itself well to a nice date night. End the night on a high and order a dessert to share.
OCC score: 7.3
Dish to order: Galub jamun (sweet milk dumplings)
See a listing for Vedas.
The second restaurant visited by the Shanghai OCC, Masala Art is an institution in the Shanghai curry scene, with a number of locations around Shanghai. The OCC has only trialed the Dagu Lu venue, but were very impressed by the attentive service and the quality on offer. As always, if a place is going to put a dish in their name, order it.
OCC score: 7.2
Dish to order: Any masala dish
For each of the 12 curry houses above, members paid in the vicinity of RMB250-350 a head. It should be pointed out that the OCC is of the firm
belief that much like a pencil without lead, a curry without beer is
pointless – and this often plays a large factor in the ultimate price.
Less thirsty curry enthusiasts could expect to pay considerably less.
Finally, as we venture into 2018 and begin the hunt for a new CHOTY, we congratulate Kebabs on the Grille once again on their performance in 2017, and hope that other curry houses around Shanghai can learn from and build on their example to deliver enjoyable and authentic curry experiences to the people of this great city.
To find out more, follow the OCC on WeChat and keep up with their Shanghai adventures, your taste buds will thank you for it!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of That's Shanghai.