‘Eat, Drink, Indian’ Tamatanga opens in Birmingham
By Sufina (Instagram/halal.birmingham)
As I stepped through the door, I was first welcomed by the harmony of aromas that wrap you in a warm embrace, and secondly by staff who, despite being run off their feet, took the time to acknowledge me and every other customer for that matter.
Most customers were being seated right away or pointed towards the bar. Buggies and luggage (to be expected, being located next to New Street station!) were put to one side opposite the seating area. It was opening week and many had been enticed by the 50% off offer so it was very busy and those that were turned away with no bookings were done so with sincere apologies.
As you walk into the main dining area you can’t help but think of old school Bollywood meets industrial chic with the harsh copper contrasting against the bright yet warm hues of orange and yellow. You could almost think you were in Agra!
Lighting is most definitely a key feature with hanging lights in the central area adding another layer of warmth. There are quirky paintings dotted all over the place, an elegant peacock, a bright yellow taxi or the little man in his dhoti and turban on the gent’s WC door! There is also a ‘Tamatanga Selfie’ spot where you can take a picture to remember your time at the establishment or share on social media if you are that way inclined!
The bright theme continues with the vivid colours adorning the chairs and menus. You are provided with an “eating kit” – this is a cool concept where you get a knife, fork, spoon and napkin enclosed within a card envelope. It’s like opening up a little present before you eat. Once seated you have a view of a hustling bustling interior with the hum of conversation or the hustle and bustle of Navigation Street to the other side as commuters pass by. When you first sit down you are aware of how close you are sat to other tables, however, that is soon forgotten as you become engrossed in your own conversations and the menu.
The size of the carafe was generous, however, the flavours were far too diluted. Had they packed a more powerful punch they would have been more enjoyable. The Bombay cooler tasted like a diluted squash with coriander added to it – if anything, it did act as a decent palate cleanser in between dishes. Tap water is provided to drink if requested.
The teas were ordered with our desserts (below). The Tama Chai was weak compared to Chai’s available in other eateries. However, this can come down to a matter of personal preference. The chai is accompanied by a couple of biscuits. The Green Tea with Mint was a standard teabag that you couldn’t far go wrong with.
As appetising as the chaat bombs looked, I was slightly disappointed not to find the crunch of a freshly diced onion inside. The flavours were a mix of the usual kick from spices and sweetness from tamarind; however, the dominating sweetness could have been toned down slightly.
The sev and coriander (vermicelli) garnished on top were a nice finishing touch to complete the chaat bombs. I would not say these were the best I have tried, but they were certainly enjoyable to eat.
The prawn tempura had a light batter on them with the predominant flavour being the coriander seeds that were incorporated into it. They were accompanied by what I can only describe as sweet rocket chutney – an earthy taste that is certainly acquired. If you like rocket you will love this! I did feel it overpowered the prawns and preferred to eat them by themselves.
We had actually ordered ‘Nee-ma’s chicken curry’; however, there was a mix up and we ended up with ‘Chicken Khurana’, and boy are we glad we did!
Chicken Khurana is a phenomenally innovative dish – the flavour combinations are so incredibly moreish and leave your taste buds confused with the wonderful sweetness of the sweet potato and the complexity of the spices working in perfect harmony together.
Even when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, we kept going back to have some more of the sauce from this dish.
My only critique is that the chicken needs to be cut in uniform pieces as the larger ones were very dry and bland on the inside.
As it was a mix up in the order we were not charged for the extra curry and were given ‘Nee-ma’s chicken curry’ (image below) too, which turned out to be disappointing. It is a korma style curry but it seemed to lack any flavour at all and we left this after the first few bites.
The naans were soft, however, were void of any distinct flavour but they made the perfect accompaniment to soak up the curry sauces.
The Tamatanga chips are tossed in chaat masala, chilli flakes and coriander, and once again the flavours work well together without overpowering each other. Another one of those dishes where you keep going back for more (and they seem to be a never ending portion!)
The lamb biryani was subtly spiced so if you are expecting it to pack a punch, you may be slightly disappointed.
Personally, I’m tired of overly spicy biryanis so this was a welcome deviation from the norm. The lamb was tender and cooked to perfection breaking apart easily. A green salad accompanies with a raita that has been sweetened with organic honey. Regrettably I do not like honey despite trying many variations over the years, but if you do then perhaps you would enjoy this twist on the classic raita.
It had a mango coulis sitting on a brulee style coconut topping – the flavours paired together incredibly well, with the coconut giving enough of a punch so as not to be overpowered by the mango.
The fig and pistachio cheesecake had a rich, warm, comforting flavour from the cardamom at the forefront giving way to the tangy cheese. The pistachio’s provided the perfect crunch for a bit of added texture.
Both desserts were delicious, with the former option being the lighter of the two.
The little things count when it comes to good service. I overheard two gentlemen seated near me request two portions of poppadum’s. However, the waitress quickly informed them that they come in a bowl and one portion would be sufficient for both. How often do we end up over ordering and the food going to waste? I really appreciated this little bit of attentive service.
The waiting staff were all very polite and courteous, making an effort to engage in conversation that made you feel valued as a customer. All the facilities were spick and span including the toilets – I could not fault the restaurant on hygiene. Despite being incredibly busy, tables were cleared away quickly and there was not a dirty spoon in sight.
As I was leaving, the manager asked how the meal was and I gave him some feedback, we talked about how they try and only use the best quality ingredients that are ethically sourced and I was recommended the chilli cheese naan as something to try next time. This is a place that genuinely wants to keep their customers happy and I cannot wait to go back and try their thalis!
Good to know:
- Expect to pay: Approximately £20-£25 per person for dinner, under £10 during the day if you take advantage of their daytime deal.
- Various menus available: Main menu, alcoholic drinks and tipples, daytime deal, desserts, vegan, gluten free.
- Accessibility: There is extra space around certain tables for disabled patrons and a disabled WC which can be easily accessed. The entrance is a slight slope going down so you should take care as you step through the door to enter.
Orion Building, Navigation Street, Birmingham B5 4AX.
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur 11:30-22:00 | Fri 11:30-23:00 | Sat 22:00-23:00 | Sun 10:00-22:00