Since retiring my mum has become somewhat opinionated on the topic curry. I’m not sure quite how this happened, but when you’re listening to her discuss the merits of curry houses in Monmouthshire versus Birmingham, it’s pretty obvious who is going to be the best person to take with me to review Raja Monkey.
We arrived down on a Tuesday night and were pleasantly surprised to see there being quite a few people dining – couples, groups of friends, and a large family complete with adorable child in possibly the best onsie I’ve seen this year. Located on the Stratford Rd, Raja Monkey’s street cafe brief is definitely at home here and whilst it might not seem like the most obvious location, the number of people in it on a Tuesday night begs to differ.
Billed as an authentic Indian street cafe, the menu at Raja Monkey is reassuringly brief; an A3 of dishes including Thalis and curry, plus a couple of specials. We’re spoilt in Birmingham for curry houses, but I’m still wary of places that have pages and pages of dishes. Thankfully Raja Monkey doesn’t, which gives them the perfect opportunity to go for quality over quantity.
My mum and I shared a starter of Bhoti kebab; lamb marinated with yoghurt and mustard oil. Beautifully cooked, the lamb had a lovely smokiness and a sort of spice that danced over the tongue. With three pieces it was of good size as a single portion, although also pretty good to share too.
For main I had to go for the South Indian Thali; piquant fish kari cooked in coconut milk, mustard seed and curry leaves and served with rice, a dosa, aubergine curry and dhal. The collection of dishes all had a lovely flavour; with the aubergine being spicier, the fish slightly sweet and the lentils creamy. I didn’t actually need both the dosa and rice, as I was stealing bits of my mum’s naan bread, but the whole meal all had different flavour components which really worked. My mum had spotted a special of Murgh Raj Tikka-Masala which was a nice twist on the British classic and wasn’t too sweet.
Raja Monkey has a lovely relaxed atmosphere which is unfussy but clear that the staff take pride in their work. The food is good value and whilst the menu isn’t massive this is a positive which allows them to make sure the dishes are each carefully prepared without pretence. Definitely somewhere I’d be happy to go back to regularly.
And Raja Monkey; It turns out it’s my mum’s favourite curry house anyway. Take that Monmouthshire.
Disclosure: I was invited to review Raja Monkey. Although my meal was complimentary I wasn’t required to write a positive review Opinions and photos in this post are my own and I really did listen to my mum tell me about curry houses in Monmouthshire.