Indian Zing clearly has ambitions to go beyond the curry house norms that abound in King Street, which can be thought of as the Brick Lane of west London. Chef Manoj Vasaijar has been head chef at up-market Indian Chutney Mary, and this background shows in the menu. In addition to some familiar standards are dishes such as monkfish tikka and duck chettinad. The décor is simple but pleasant, with various Indian prints adorning the white walls, and an ornamental wooden door just inside the entrance.
The wine list is a long way from what one might expect in a normal tandoori joint: choices include Yalumba Riesling Y Series 2008 at £22.50 (compared to a retail price of around £7), Valdemar Gran Reserva 2000 at £44 for a wine that will set you back £18 in the shops, and even Dom Perignon 2000 at £140 compared to a retail price of about £88. The meal started well with crisp popadoms and very good chutneys that appear to be made from scratch, a coriander chutney with good flavour and a very good mango chutney, much better than the norm (13/20).
My starter of “scallop Lonche” with new potatoes (£8.50) had a lively masala pickle which had acted as a marinade to the scallops, served with fresh coriander. The scallops were cooked just a little too long, but were still very pleasant (12/20). Pea and potato tikki was also nicely made, the vegetable patti having good texture, the spicing nicely judged with a little tamarind sweetness (12/20). Then the main courses arrived.
Prawn biriani (listed at £17.50) had decent rice but utterly awful prawns, which had been cooked so long they were the consistency of cotton wool (10/20). My chicken jalfrezi (£8.50) had a decent if one-dimensional sauce, but the chicken itself was also woefully overcooked, the meat itself really poor (10/20). A dish of bhindi turned out to be stone cold; I don’t mean lukewarm, I mean literally cold, and the one piece of okra that I tasted before I sent the dish back was overcooked and slimy (10/20). Amongst this culinary carnage there was a very decent yellow dhal (12/20) and adequate if slightly harder than ideal naan bread (at least 11/20). Service was friendly but inept: initially our starters were delivered to a different table, then confidently put in front of us the wrong way around. Even pouring a beer, hardly the trickiest of tasks, proved beyond not one but two of the waiters.
This was a wildly erratic meal, and to be fair the chef clearly acknowledged this when he came out later having tried the various dishes we had returned. Even allowing for a bad night, there are two concerns: with some dishes not charged for, including the dismal prawns, the bill still came to £55 with just three beers and some water between us. Moreover, this was in fact the third meal I have had at this restaurant. The first one was quite capable, the second one rather like tonight, with some really inexcusable dishes mixed in with some competent ones. It was on the basis of this second meal that I decided to give it a lengthy break before returning, only to have another wildly erratic dinner tonight. If you were lucky it would be possible to have a very good meal here, and the good starters tonight make the train-wreck main courses all the more frustrating. However to deliver such serious inconsistency not just once but on two successive visits is really quite worrying. Writing an interesting menu is one thing: cooking it is quite another.