Kasturi Restaurant Fish Festival – restaurant review

[This venue is now closed]

Kasturi is a strong-scented oil found in rare musk deer. This prized substance has been used for the mostKasturi Restaurant Fish Festival expensive and luxurious of perfumes. The name evokes opulence and richness. Kasturi the restaurant specialises in Pakhtoon cuisine, which originated in the North-West Frontier Province of the Sub-continent. The essence of Pakhtoon cuisine is in the preparation of kababs and grilled foods with the minimum of added ghee or butter. But we were there to enjoy the Kasturi Fish Festival, which lasts till 10th October.

For six weeks or so, Mr Bashir Ahmed and his staff present a special menu comprised of fish dishes. Many Indian restaurants offer the occasional seafood dish, usually prawns in various guises, but the Kasturi menu has gone a step further and features only seafood. (The regular menu is also available.) These dishes include none of the usual piscatorial suspects such as Fish Curry (whatever that is) or Prawn Tikka Masala.

Kasturi is a light and bright restaurant without the dark and dingy trappings of the mediocre “curry houses” of yesteryear. Such restaurants are now much rarer as the British public has become more discerning and demanding. The layout of Kasturi allows for intimate soirées as well as for larger groups.

My guest and I ordered a bottle of house wine which was a chardonnay and most agreeable, and we munched our pappadoms while reflecting upon the Fish Festival menu. The Kasturi Seafood Platter (£8.95) gave us the chance to sample several of the fish starters: Crab Kabab, Fish Kabab and Salmon Tikka. The spices, although evident, did not overpower the seafood and I found the Salmon Tikka (Loch Fyne Scottish salmon marinated with spices and fresh herbs, char-grilled in a tandoor – a traditional clay oven) to be particularly good.

My main course was the Mixed Seafood Biryani (£11.95). This is the chef’s original innovation, using prawns, king prawns, octopus, mussels and white fish, served with a dish of chilled raitha on the side. This was flavourful with evidence of fresh spices. My guest chose Mahi Roll (£9.95), a sweet-water white fish from Lake Victoria, steamed, rolled and stuffed with mince, served in a creamy sauce of ginger, mustard and coconut milk. This is probably the most delicate of all the seafood dishes and quite unlike anything I have eaten in other Indian restaurants. All the fish dishes that we sampled were cooked to perfection, the fish being moist and tender.

Our side dishes included stuffed Indian round baby gourd in a mild curry. The vegetables were melt-in-the-mouth and the sauce was naan-dippingly delicious. This was my first taste of baby gourd and I can recommend it. Lemon Basmati Rice and a bread basket completed our array of dishes.

This award-winning restaurant seems to have a loyal following of both Europeans and Asians. Its convenient location just opposite Aldgate Underground station and a few yards from Aldgate East makes this a favourite with City workers and locals alike. The service was professional, polite and unobtrusive. The Fish Festival menu allows both Indian food aficionados and seafood lovers to experience something a bit different.

The Kasturi Restaurant Fish Festival runs from 1st September to 10th October 2009.

Kasturi Restaurant and Catering Company
57 Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1AL
Tel: 020 7480 7402 / 7481 0048

[This venue is now closed]


Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018