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Coriander's Ethnic Indian Restaurant – City

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We peruse the carefully-curated menu under the watchful gaze of a Bengal Tiger prowling the jungle undergrowth. The impressive mural features a stunning jewel-green tiled ceiling, just part of the stunning package at this excellent addition to St Asaph Street’s buzzing restaurant and bar scene that offers some of the city’s finest Indian cuisine.

A love song to all things Bombay, local curry legend Amar Singh’s Coriander’s Ethnic Indian Restaurants’ mothership is housed in a beautiful, colonial-style building, resplendent in white. Ornate decorating and fancy murals join a movie-poster clad Bollywood room and sunny, undercover outdoor area perfect for lazy weekend lunches and early evening dining.

Inside, a slick bar setup is a great place to grab a pre-dinner tipple if you’re waiting on your table (FYI: if you haven’t booked for dinner, a wait is pretty much a given), while well-placed kitchen windows allow diners to not only check out the techniques of the skilled chefs running the kitchen, but also pick up a few professional tips on the sly.

We watch, suitably impressed, as our entrée of tikka chicken is deftly threaded onto a skewer and cooked to smoky perfection by flaming charcoal. Arriving on a sizzling hotplate, the deep orange chicken pieces (five in total) with crunchy scorched marks are succulent and perfectly matched with sips of the dry Riesling filling our glasses.

Rocking a definite fun vibe, we navigate our mains (with a little help from the passionate and super/friendly staff) to the gentle hum and background noise of excited chatter, cutlery on plates and outbursts of laughter typical of those enjoying a fantastic night out.

For those who love butter chicken (India’s most popular/famous dish), Coriander’s reigns supreme, and we’re delighted to learn our waiter didn’t lead us astray when claiming it was the city’s finest. The boneless half chicken cooked in the tandoor and finished with tomato and cream butter sauce and a whisper of fenugreek is both delicate and flavoursome, with a sumptuous smoky finish and gentle heat on the palate. Dipping chunks of the fluffy garlic naan into the addictive sauce is satisfying and filling.

Stronger is the prawn jalfrezee, where plump, juicy prawns hold their own against a lip-smacking mix of ginger, garlic, green capsicum, coconut milk, tomatoes, fresh chillies and coriander. Piled on steamed basmati rice and topped with raita, it’s party-in-the-mouth inducing and, be warned, there will fights over the last prawn, so stake your claim early!

There’s no room for dessert, but we manage to sneak in a cheeky nightcap by way of the classic house cocktail the Sassy Lassi (a mango lassi kicked up a notch or two with Cointreau and vodka), which is the perfect way to end the evening.

Coriander’s Ethnic Indian Restaurant – City
222 St Asaph Street
03 365 5557
www.corianders.co.nz

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Guest 12 December 2017