Friday was spent driving down south to spend the weekend with my husband, the drive was plain sailing until the usual M25 sluggishness, the best thing it afforded was a perfect view of planes coming in to land at Heathrow, as we were directly under the flight path. I’m no plane spotter by any means, but if I’d been a passenger rather than the driver I’d have taken a picture for sure!
We both fancied dinner out and my first thought was to revisit Soya, the spot where I’d tried my first bibimbap recently, but they were fully booked so we left in search for other options. Not knowing the area that well, we knew we could get some insider knowledge from my brother in-law; he works in the area and recommended Thali:Thali on Chertsey Road, in the heart of Woking’s town centre.
The place is stylish and modern in its interior, with tables and leather seating lining one wall, then more intimate booths on the other; certainly very different to a more traditional curry house.
Now being a frustratingly slow reader it took me an age to decide, the menu was extensive and seemed to celebrate dishes from different regions, including as their name would suggest a thali. All the while my husband was helping himself to poppadoms and the pickle tray, as you do! Talking of pickle trays – something I liked was the decent portion of red onion chutney to go along with the trio of sauces, usually you only get a piddly amount and it’s one I always want more of.
When we arrived it was around 7:30pm, just three other tables were occupied so it was fairly quiet. By the end of our meal it was at least three-quarters full with a steady stream of customers and had a good atmosphere. The background music was clearly audible, but it was easy enough to have a conversation with the person opposite.
To start we were brought dishes called multani jheenga and a Kakori kebab. The menu had stated the Kakori kebab, a regional dish was made by mincing lamb seven times, so we expected an ultra smooth texture. Combined with fried onions, smoked green cardamom, saffron and nutmeg – the final product was certainly smooth, with spice that built gradually and worked well with the raita to temper the heat a touch. My king prawn starter was lovely, the prawns were large and meaty, encrusted in fennel seeds and barbecued giving them a delicate smokey/aniseed taste which allowed the sweetness to come through. As they didn’t have a sauce, the pickle tray came handy again here too. Only three prawns, as big and meaty as they were, I would’ve loved more as it wasn’t the most generous of portions.
For the main course, the other half had ordered a Thali combo with lamb and chicken, whilst I ordered the Murg biryani, a bit of a departure for me, as normally I’m prawns all the way when I have a curry, and also I’m dead boring and go for prawn bhuna with garlic naan every time!! But at Thali:Thali, the menu’s full of regional offerings and there was no hint of a bhuna, vindaloo or the more predictable curries you may see on a menu. The thali had lots of elements and was definitely a bit of a feast, as this was the case it would’ve helped if the waiting staff had given the heads up to what was in each bowl. To me it wasn’t really that obvious, for some of it anyway. On taste he said it was very good, working his way through three quarters until it got a little rich and was too full to finish it off. I helped myself to the naan bread for my biryani which was excellent!!
I’d gone for a Murg biryani – cooked and served in a Handi was chicken and basmati rice, the chicken was incredibly moist and the rice perfectly cooked. Again the subtleness of spicing was a pleasant surprise and a definite departure from those over-spiced curries I’ve had in the past.
Overall I thought it was an evening well spent. The food was great, waiting times weren’t particularly long and we enjoyed lovely service throughout.
33 Chertsey Road