This restaurant in Twickenham opened in late 2021, owned by pioneering chef Alfred Prasad, who earned a Michelin star for Tamarind back in 2002. The dining room has quite well spaced tables and a central bar area. As well as the a la carte menu, there were tasting menu options at £45 and £59.
The wine list had just twenty labels, a couple with their vintages missing, and ranged in price from £25 to £105, with a median price of £48 and an average markup to retail price of 2.4 times, which is very fair by London standards. Sample references were Trebbiano d'Abruzzo Gianni Masciarelli 2020 at £30 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £13, Domaine Arlaud Bourgogne Rouge Oka 2018 at £54 compared to its retail price of £20, and Billecart-Salmon Brut NV champagne at £81 for a wine that will set you back £47 in the high street.
We tried several starters. Chicken malai tikka is a chicken tikka that has been softened with a marinade involving cheese, before being grilled in a tandoor. This was pleasant though a touch drier than the best versions I have tried (12/20). Tandoori lamb chops were also marinated and were properly cooked, though for me a bit more seasoning and spice from the marinade would have been beneficial (13/20). Scallops were from nearby fishmonger Sandy’s and the scallops themselves were of reasonable quality and were correctly cooked, having some natural sweetness and a hint of spice from their marinade. Unfortunately, they must have been hanging around for a while after cooking, as they were tepid, bordering on cold, on arrival (11/20). Armitsari fish used tilapia and was pleasant, the fish fried lightly, but the overall effect was a little bland. More seasoning and spice was definitely in order here (12/20).
Chicken biryani was decent, though the rice was not as aromatic as you might hope for in a top biryani, the grains of rice not quite distinct enough. Nor did it have a pastry case covering when it was served. Perhaps I have spent too much time in Hyderabad and my expectations are too high, but there are plenty of better biryanis than this in London (12/20). Curried cauliflower was enjoyable, the texture of the vegetables well preserved, the spices enhancing the cauliflower nicely (13/20). Spinach with kale was also good, the crisp kale providing a texture contrast and the spinach having plenty of flavour. This was probably the best dish of the meal (14/20). Edamame seekh was a vegetarian take on a lamb kebab, this made with kidney beans, edamame beans and other mixed vegetables. This was not very visually appealing but tasted fine, the spices nicely enhancing the vegetable sausage (13/20).
Black dhal with kidney beans was fine if a little bland, lacking the smoky complexity of the best versions of this iconic dish. (13/20). We also tried a “skinny butter chicken” without butter or cream, which was made well enough but a butter chicken that is not buttery may be admirable in intent but has distinct limitations (barely 12/20). Keralan sea bream moilee had a pleasant coconut milk broth but the fish had a quite off-putting, overly strong fishy flavour that made it unpleasant to eat. Perhaps this was just peculiar to this piece of fish, but I won’t score this dish as they kindly took it off the bill without us asking. Naan bread was fine (12/20), and it was nice to see a gluten-free roti option, especially since one of our group happened to suffer from gluten intolerance and so rarely gets the chance to enjoy bread in restaurants.
For dessert, both pistachio kulfi (14/20) and alphonso mango kulfi (14/20) had smooth texture and plenty of flavour. Less successful was a “water ganache”, a chocolate ganache made without cream that tasted, well, distinctly watery. It rested in a pastry case that suffered from hard pastry that was too thick. This came with what was notionally a rose flavoured concoction but tasted of almost nothing at all, like some sort of Angel Delight from way back when (10/20 may be kind).
Coffee was of a brand that eluded the waitress that I asked, but apparently was from a local Italian delicatessen, and was of acceptable quality. Service was well-meaning. The meal was surprisingly elongated at over three hours for popadoms and three courses, but we weren’t in a rush and the dining room was quite busy. The bill came to £68 per person including plenty of beer, a brand called London Lager from Meantime Brewing in Greenwich. Overall, Shiuli offered a pleasant enough neighbourhood dining experience, but there was some inconsistency in the execution of the dishes, as noted earlier. This was a pity as the best dishes were quite good and the menu has some quite interesting ideas.