447 Kingston Road, Epsom, KT19 0DB, United Kingdom

Back to search results

Dastaan was opened in late 2016, situated in an unpromising terrace of shops in Ewell, not far from Kingston. Head chef Nand Kishor runs the kitchen, ably assisted by Saiful Alom, with culinary director Sanjay Gour overseeing things. Sanjay had worked with Gordon Ramsay in Dubai and later with Jason Atherton before moving to Gymkhana, where Nand Kishor was working. They joined up to open Dastaan, where one of the key features for me is the vibrant flavours, achieved by grinding spices daily rather than once a week as is common elsewhere. The premises are quite compact, with an open kitchen at the back of the dining room.

Pani puris are little hollow crisp fried dough shells (called golgappa) with a little base of potato, moong sprout and onion inside, over which you pour water flavoured with coriander, lime juice, mint, mango powder, cumin and black salt. You eat this all in one, so the spices burst on your tongue as you bite into the puri. The puri shells were very delicate and crisp, and the liquid centre had terrific flavour (15/20).

Dahi puri is another savoury snack, this made with sweet yoghurt, tamarind, mint chutney, coriander, green chilli, pomegranate seeds, sev, chickpeas and potatoes, all held together in a crispy hollow semolina puff. This was superb, the spices in lovely balance, each flavour distinct and with the textural contrast of the crisp shell with the soft filling (16/20).

Red pepper tiger prawns were as superb as ever here, large and flawlessly cooked prawns suffused with a spicy marinade and served with a tomato, chilli and garlic chutney (17/20). Kale bhajia is another triumphant dish, the epitome of bhajias. It is remarkable how fried vegetables with chutneys can be elevated to such a level, but here you are. The resulting bhajias are crisp and packed with flavour, the chutneys used avoiding dryness (easily 16/20).

Stone bass tikka was excellent, the fish nicely marinaded before being cooked in the tandoor. The consistency of the fish was lovely (15/20). Methi chicken is an old favourite, the version here with plenty of fresh fenugreek flavour, pretty much the definitive methi chicken (16/20). Wild mustard potatoes use Parisian potatoes that are shaped with a melon baller to a consistent size before being cooked, the mustard flavour coming through well and the texture of the potato remaining excellent, with the even size of each potato ball ensuring consistency of texture (15/20). Garlic naan had soft, supple texture and plenty of garlic flavour (15/20). There was no makhanai dhal on the menu tonight, but tarka dhal was a good substitute. This uses masoor lentils with turmeric as the base, with tomato paste, onion and spices that are fried together (tarka means tempering or seasoning). This all combined well, providing a punchy set of spices to enliven the lentils. I am not usually a big fan of tarka dhal, which can be watery and dull, but this version was excellent, full of spicy flavour (15/20). The khumb palak (mushrooms and spinach) dish I reviewed previously has been replaced with sweetcorn and spinach, but the same remarkably deep spinach flavour was present (16/20). This is a dish that I have tried making at home from their cookbook, and it works pretty well at home, though it  is quite time-consuming to prepare. It is easier to come here and enjoy it.

Service was friendly and attentive, with extra drinks brought instantly, and the bill came to £64 a head for a vast amount of food and copious beer. In recent years London has seen a golden age of Indian restaurants, with Dastaan (and its sister restaurants The Kokum and Black Salt) at the fore, raising the bar for Indian food in the London area. The fact that it does not have a Michelin star is presumably due to either the lack of a grand piano in the corner or the bewildering ignorance of Michelin inspectors when it comes to Indian food. The customers have formed their own opinions, and even on this Sunday evening, Dastaan was completely rammed, with tables being turned all around us.

Trade reservation

Further reviews: 17th May 2022 | 19th Mar 2022 | 23rd Aug 2021 | 13th Jul 2021 | 17th Aug 2020 | 08th Oct 2019 | 05th Jun 2019 | 29th Sep 2018 | 30th Dec 2017 | 11th Jul 2017 | 30th Apr 2017

Add a comment


User comments