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Monkey Temple

92 Askew Road, London, W12 9BL, United Kingdom

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This Nepalese restaurant opened in June 2014, and in the daytime is a café serving baguettes and the like.  The restaurant name refers to a well-known 5th century temple west of Katmandu called Swayambhunath, known as the monkey temple due to a large number of monkeys that reside in part of the temple and are regarded as holy.

The menu is vast, featuring Indian staple dishes as well as some more distinctly Nepali offerings. I was under the impression that it had no alcohol license, and they let you bring your own wine at no charge. However on the way out I noticed a few bottles of wine behind the counter, so they presumably now have at least some booze to offer.

Momo were steamed dumplings, in this case filled with vegetables, rather like a samosa filling. This was a pleasant starter, though the tomato-based sauce with the dumplings was rather bland (11/20). This was better than prawn puree served on rather hard bread, the prawns cooked properly but the sauce of fenugreek leaves and onions with them needing greater intensity of spices (10/20).

Prawn biryani had reasonably good rice and prawns that were properly cooked though rather lacking in flavour (11/20). Chicken thakkali, prepared with a sauce of onion, ginger, tomato, garlic paste and spices, was a touch dry but its sauce was had a pleasant spicy kick (11/20). Chana had reasonably tender chickpeas but needed more vibrant spicing in the sauce (10/20). Cauliflower bhaji again had vegetables that had quite good texture, but lacked in spicing (10/20). Naan bread was £2.15 and had reasonable texture (11/20).

Service was very friendly if not dazzlingly efficient. The bill came to £23 a head. Overall, The Monkey Temple is a notch better from many local Indian restaurants, and is modestly priced. However the food is competent rather than anything more than that, so it is the kind of place that you would happily go to if it was at the end of your road, but the food is not distinctive enough to be worth a journey.

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