Editor's note - Zaika closed on 22nd December 2013. It reopened as One Kensington, which itself closed wthin months. In November 2014 it was relaunched once more as Zaika, serving Indian food again.
The new dining room is a big improvement on the small rooms of the Fulham Road, with a vaulting ceiling and a real buzz about the place. The kitchen turns out genuinely original cooking that takes Indian technique and expands it into uncharted territory. Where else would you see "Indian fish and chips", with cod in a chilli and saffron batter, and potato patties with pea puree? The more traditional dishes impress, especially the use of the tandoor – tandoori prawns are as good as any I have had outside top places in India. Fish is a strong point here – a starter of salmon fillet cooked in a tandoor and marinated with lime was very delicate, with great texture, fresh fish and good timing.
Below are brief notes from a meal in February 2011.
The pickles that arrive with the popadoms were very good indeed, made from scratch and classy: mango chutney, a particularly good tomato pickle and a lime pickle were all excellent (14/20). There was even an amuse-bouche of a little pot of spicy chicken soup of with truffle oil, with good flavour and served with a little piece of chicken tikka (14/20). A starter of scallops and langoustines with chilli mash (£16) in a rich spicy shellfish broth worked quite well, the scallops and langoustines lightly cooked, the broth nicely balanced, with a hint of tamarind (13/20). This was better than soft shell crab (£11.50), with a light enough batter but rather dry, served only with a few spots of chilli oil (12/20).
Tandoori prawns (£21) were carefully cooked (13/20), served with somewhat bland rice dumplings and coconut chutney. This was a little better than tandoori guinea fowl (£17), marinated in mustard seeds and curry leaves, whose meat was cooked well enough, but was served with a rather bland bed of stir-fired mushrooms (12/20). Naan bread was good, if a fraction harder than ideal (13/20). Service was very good, friendly and quite efficient. Prices are high, though the ingredients used are of quite a high standard compared to most Indian restaurants.