Moti Raj, Church Lane, Sunderland

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I’m not normally a fan of Indian food, but the Moti Raj won me over.

Business is still booming in the city centre restaurant which opened in 1974, and it’s easy to see why.

Excellent service and tasty food in plush surroundings made for one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had in a while.

I was surprised, visiting on a Sunday tea time, to find it was busy – so much so, that we had to wait for a table.

Our party was seated in the bar while we waited, so we ordered drinks – a bottle of Cobra (£2.95) and a glass of white wine (£2.95) – and had time to look at the menu, which offers plenty of British favourites such as korma and vindaloo.

The restaurant offers a Sunday and Thursday night special meal of starter, main course, rice dish and ice cream or coffee for £9.95, which my parents took advantage of.

Mam chose bhuna prawn on puree to start, and dad chicken tikka. I opted for king prawn butterfly (£4.75).

The service was swift and I enjoyed my battered prawns, served with salad. The coating was crispy and, thankfully, not greasy at all.

The tikka chicken was delicious – I stole a piece – and the generous bhuna prawn on puree was also praised.

We’d just enough time to let the starters settle when the attentive waiters started to deliver the main courses.

Mam ordered a classic tikka chicken masala with mushroom pilau rice, and dad a balti chicken (this wasn’t on the special menu, but the waiter allowed him to swap the main course for no extra charge), with vegetable pilau. I ordered chicken coriander (£7.25).

Dad said the balti tasted more of coconut than those he’s had before, but it was full of flavour and the chicken was cooked perfectly, as it was in all the dishes. The tikka masala wasn’t too creamy and mam said it was better than those she’s had in the past.

The chicken coriander was also a winner. The dish contains ground almonds and yoghurt, and although it wasn’t quite spicy enough for my taste, I enjoyed it.

Monica Turnbull