Chakra is part of the riverside development in Kingston, alongside a series of restaurants and bars. The restaurant is almost directly underneath the bridge, and has a few outside tables as well as the main dining room. The dining room looks directly out over the river and tables were quite well spaced, with a bar to one side of the dining room. It was brightly it and there was bhangra music playing in the background. It has a sister restaurant in Kensington.
The executive chef of Chakra is Mr Satyabrata Jena, who formerly launched Brigadiers and before that was head chef of Jamavar. As well as the menu of fairly familiar Indian dishes, there was a menu of Indo-Chinese dishes. There is a tradition of such food, sometimes called “Chindian”, a fusion of Chinese food with Indian spices. This cooking emerged in the Tangra Chinatown of old Calcutta (now Kolkata). Outside of India, there are a few such restaurants serving this food that are dotted around the UK, such as Hakkaland in Harrow. Tonight we stuck to more traditional fare, with main courses mostly around £14 and starters priced around a tenner.
As well as beer there was a wine list with a few ambitious labels, the same as in Chakra’s sister restaurant in Kensington. The list seems identical, right down to the absence of vintages on most bottles, and one identical misspelling of the name of the Rhone Hermitage producer Jean-Louis Chave. Popadoms were crisp and came with a trio of chutneys. We started with an onion and chilli bhajia, which had quite good flavour and reasonably crisp exterior (13/20). I also quite liked a bhel poori, the street snack with a mix of sev, potato, chutneys and onion, this one coming with an extra little dish of tamarind chutney on the side, so you could adjust the level of tamarind to your own taste (13/20).
Butter chicken was a dish that lived up to its name, with a rich and butter, fairly mild sauce and pieces of chicken that were cooked competently (13/20). Corn palak lacked the depth of spinach flavour that it might have had, but was otherwise pleasant (12/20). Aloo channa was less good, the potatoes and chickpeas cooked a little longer than ideal, and the overall effect being a little watery (11/20). However a paratha was nicely made, the layered bread avoiding the greasiness that often afflicts it at less capable kitchens (13/20).
Service was fine, our pleasant waitress turning out to be completing a master’s degree. The staff wore masks, though one manager seemed unfamiliar with the basic idea that a mask should cover his nose, and tables were reasonably well spaced. I didn’t see a bill this evening, but a typical cost per head for three courses and drinks would be around £40. Overall, Chakra was a pleasant experience in an attractive riverside setting.