Dastaan is an unlikely destination restaurant, being located in a nondescript terrace of shops in Ewell, on the busy Kingston Road. The minimalist décor and closely packed tables do not give any outward indication that you are about to served some of the best Indian food in the UK. However, as your meal unfolds the reality begins to sink in. Start off with a bang and try the red pepper tiger prawns. These large prawns can be tricky to cook evenly, but there they are gorgeous, marinated with spices and served with a chill and garlic chutney (16/20). Black pepper stone bass is another star dish here, the fish well able to cope with the lively spices, the bass having excellent flavour and being precisely cooked, served with tomato and spring onion salad (15/20 pushing 16/20). The only dish that let the side down a little tonight was fish Amritsari , stir fried with a coating of spices and served with a dill and ginger raita. The small pieces of fish were cooked all right but the spices in this case seemed underpowered and the overall effect a little bland, albeit pleasant (13/20). Vegetable samosas had a filling of potato, green peas and tamarind chutney. These were fine, though for me again the spices here could have been more distinctive, and perhaps a tad more tamarind would have been good (13/20).
Methi chicken was a lovely thing, the pieces of meat tender, resting in a rich sauce redolent of fenugreek and a lively mix of spices. (15/20). Chicken tikka biryani was excellent too, the rice fragrant and aromatic, the meat having plenty of mildly spiced flavour (15/20). Wild mustard potatoes were a new dish, the potatoes cooked with curry leaves and garlic and maintaining their texture very well (15/20). Even better was a saag side dish; it takes some talent to make spinach exciting but this was terrific, the leaves beautifully cooked, the spices lifting the dish to another level, a touch of ginger adding another flavour note. This is one of the best spinach dishes I have eaten anywhere, and better than the last time I tried the dish here (easily 15/20). Naan and paratha were excellent, cooked freshly to order and both supple and delicious (15/20).
Service was very friendly, and efficient despite the completely packed dining room. The bill came to just £34 a person, including drinks and for more food than we could finish. Dastaan is a real hidden gem of a restaurant. The locals have already figured this out, and the place has been packed every night I have been here.