My Delhi has opened on the corner of Borough Road and Toward Road and it’s taken an empty unit and brought it to life spectacularly.
Spread over two floors, it’s a really vibrant addition to the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene with statement graffiti walls, neon signs and an Indian colour palette of saffron, burnt orange hues and bright blues and greens.
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There’s plenty of talking points to the decor, from the plasma screens playing scenes of Delhi’s buzzing streets on a loop, including the sounds of the beeps and bustle, to the vintage Bollywood posters and hanging monkey light fittings.
It’s a really creative use of the space which has had various guises over the years, including Cosa Nostra, Funky Indian and, very briefly, Cafe 420 (they’ve also sorted the downstairs plumbing problem which seemed to plague previous restaurants there).
It’s great to see the new tenants making the most of the space at the new eatery, or streetery as they like to call it, which has 140 covers making it one of the biggest restaurants in the city, ideal for groups and families.
The menu is an equally colourful affair.
Forget your bog standard kormas and masalas, this menu is focused around the street food you’d find in Delhi, from where the chefs hail.
They’re bringing the heady spices and fiery flavours of their birthplace to Sunderland to great effect, with options such as spicy lamb chops, Afghani kebab (a fusion of Indian, Persian and Mongolian flavours, Amritsari fish, South Indian fish curry, 1950s-style butter chicken, chilli chicken and railway station lamb curry inspired by a British officer who’d asked for his curry a little milder. This is food with a rich heritage and a story to tell.
The nature of Indian food means vegetarians and vegans are also well catered for, with options such as cauliflower manchurian, Harappa smoked aubergines and chana bhatura (chickpea curry).
It’s a veritable pick ‘n’ mix of dishes with the street food plates designed to be shared.
We ordered a selection for the table. With its strong Delhi routes, the butter chicken (£11.50) was a must order. It recently scooped a top score on
BBC Two’s Britain’s Top Takeaways, which saw the My Delhi team win the title of the Best Indian and it’s easy to see what impressed the judges’ palates.
With a slightly sweet taste that cuts through the spice, it’s a beautifully mild dish and one we couldn’t stop mopping up with our naan. This is seriously good stuff.
The crispy chicken momos (£5.70) was also a really interesting dish – this is food worth talking about at the table. A twist on dim sum, the filling has hints of Chinese dining while the fried coating and spices gives it a crisp, Indian take on the classic.
We also tucked into a Highway 24 street food plate (£5.95), inspired by India’s famous dhaba roadside restaurants, a rich blend of chicken in cream and ginger given an extra kick with spices, green chillies and black peppercorns. Diet food this isn’t, but it certainly doesn’t feel as heavy as some of the dishes served up at late night curry houses.
Aloo tikka chaat (£5.50) is one of the dishes suitable for vegans, a crispy potato patty with a spicy chickpea masala and chutneys. Again, it was delicately done: fried enough for flavour, but not drowning in fat. A perfect balance of flavours, presented in a fun way.
Special mention too for the cocktails which are also bringing something a little different to the city. The Emperor’s Rose (£8.50) was a revelation, an intoxicating muddle of vodka and lychee liqueur with rose and cardamon syrup giving it a distinctly Indian edge.
There’s also a great selection of wines and mocktails and, of course, Indian beers, such as Cobra and Malabar IPA on draught (£5.25 a pint).
Fancy tucking into an Indian feast at home? The location of the site, near main roads, means it’s also ideally placed for takeaways and there was plenty flying out on our visit.
But I fully recommend trying it in the restaurant first for the fully immersive experience.
The restaurant is also launching a series of Delhi Summer Nights, starting on July 21 at 6.30pm. Priced £14.95, it includes a banquet dinner, live Bollywood music, classical Indian songs, table magic and folk tales. You can book in the reservation notes on the website at www.mydelhistreetfood.com/sunderland
:: My Delhi Indian Streetery, Borough Road, is open Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 9.45pm and Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 12noon until 9.45pm.