Hot Stuff is an unassuming Indian restaurant in a parade of shops in Vauxhall, and has been trading since September 1988. This is an area that an estate agent might term “edgy”, and right on cue we saw a man walking his pit bull just as we arrived. The place is very simple, with just eight cramped tables, a tiny dining room with purple walls and no tablecloths. There is no alcohol license, but you can bring your own with no corkage charge, and there is a shop just yards away from which you can buy emergency beer. The menu offers standard north Indian fare, and was very modestly priced. Pilau rice and tandoori naan were just £2, and everything on the menu was below £10.
Vegetable samosas (£2.25) had filo pastry that was not too hard, and a pleasant spiced potato filling with a genuine kick of chilli flavour (12/20). Chilli chicken (£5) featured a generous portion of chicken that not only had a good chilli bite but a nice balancing touch of vinegar, the chicken itself cooked properly, if perhaps a little oily (13/20).
Prawn biryani (£9.50) had prawns that were carefully cooked and well-made rice, though it was quite salty (12/20). Chicken jalfrezi (£6.25) suffered from rather watery one-dimensional sauce, though the chicken was cooked all right (11/20). Aloo gobi (£3.75) retained the texture of the potato and cauliflower, and the spicing was fine (12/20). Channa (£3) had chickpeas that were a bit too firm, but had quite vibrant spices (11/20). Naan (£2) was good, quiet soft and pliable in texture (13/20).
Even on a Sunday night the place was all but full, with plenty of takeaway orders being dealt with as well. Service was a little stretched but both waiters we encountered were friendly and capable. The bill for two came to £34, so just £17 a head, with just water (75p a bottle) to drink. Of course the ingredients were quite basic, but the cooking was better than many high street restaurants charging twice this price. This was the sort of place that we would all like to have as a local: may it prosper for another 24 years. The owners appear to have bought the premises two doors down from the original place at number 23 to allow some expansion.
@SimonMajumdar I can well believe that.