HIDDEN away inside the Best Western Ryokan Hotel, LuigiKhan’s is easily missed by passers-by, but a restaurant well worth checking out.
Held in high regard by local celebrities (Huffty from 90s Channel 4 TV show, The Word, was dining out at the next table to us) LuigiKhan’s offers what could be one of the best curry houses in town.
The restaurant had a simple, rustic feel to it, mismatched chairs, huge chocolate brown sofas, solid wooden tables, charcoal painted brick walls, and an array of ‘picture-less’ picture frames ... which did amuse my other half somewhat.
It offered a clean, unpretentious space with a relaxing and warm feel, which was a good job considering the temperature outside had plunged to -2. This probably accounted for the handful of diners who had ventured out (or come downstairs from their rooms in the hotel).
The only thing I’d say about the décor, apart from how comfortable the sofa was that it lacked romantic elements ;like candles and flowers!
Roll on Valentine’s Day though as perhaps this review will ignite some passion.
The waiters, however, were very friendly, attentive and unhurried.
The menu was packed with traditional Indian curry house favourites, from chicken tikka masala to a multitude of special rice dishes, and great selection of different types of freshly-baked naan. There were also a whole host of Italian dishes too. If there was a downside, it was only that there was too much choice.
First off, and to warm us up after coming in from the cold, we ordered a bottle of 2011 Bellefontaine Merlot, £13.95. Full of spices and black fruit, it definitely did the trick. We also ordered a jug of water (we always do with Indian food) just in case we needed to put out a fire.
We were offered a tray of poppadoms and dips, but we skipped this to make room for our starters.
I opted for the prawn puri, £4.25, while my husband Hossein had the king prawns and salmon tikka, £5.95. Both dishes were packed with flavour and were delightfully served alongside a crisp and crunchy side salad. My prawn starter was probably one of the biggest I’d ever had, and I simply loved the combination of garlic, onions, coriander, turmeric and cumin.
And because Indian food is so filling, we were asked by our waiter if we’d like five minutes before embarking on our next course – a nice touch I thought, and most definitely needed.
For mains, Hossein opted for the lamb handi, £8.25. This dish was served on the bone and it came highly recommended by our Lebanese waiter, Simo.
I, meanwhile, had already heard from a colleague how good the chicken Karahi was, so I ordered that at £8.25. We also ordered mushroom pilau rice to share, £3.45, and a peshwari naan, £3.25.
Neither of us were disappointed when our main dishes arrived. The food was served sizzling hot, which was just perfect. It was a true feast of flavours.
The peshwari naan was to die for, stuffed full of almond sweetness.
Hossein said his marinated lamb was deliciously fresh, falling off the bone, and cooked to perfection. The amount of chilli inside was just right, not too hot.
My chicken Karahi was a little on the salty side. I’ve had this dish many times before, and I do prefer it a little hotter with chunks of tomato in it and more coriander – but that’s my preference and I’m pretty sure if I’d asked for more coriander or tomato, I’d have got it, the service was so good.
We don’t often go for dessert (usually neither of us has any room), but I’d spied falooda with kulfi on the menu, £3.95 – and since it’s my favourite Persian dessert (Indian too), I couldn’t resist.
It came served with ice-cream. It wasn’t as frozen as the type I’m used to and the noodles were slightly larger, but that didn’t stop me tucking in. Again, if I’m honest, I’d have preferred more rosewater and some lemon juice on it, but that’s being picky.
Hossein, on the other hand, opted for a banana split, £3.95, and then when it arrived, wondered how he was going to eat it all. It was a gigantic pile, covered in cream, nuts and sauce, but he managed to clean his plate.
Our waiter Simo suggested the perfect way to round off our meals was with a cup of mint tea. For two, this came to £3.30. After this, he quickly showed us the outdoor shisha area and I’m sure it’s lovely in the summer ... but brrr!
Overall, the total bill came to £58.55. Not bad for three courses each and a bottle of good wine. I also got a hug from the manager as I left. I’d say the service was excellent, and the food was, in Huffty’s lingo on The Word “Aye, canny”.
We’ll be back – perhaps for their Valentine’s Day four-course special – though I may have to twist the other half’s arm first. However, the thought of a belly-dancer (on the menu) may help me to do that.
Address: LuigiKhan’s, Best Western Ryokan Hotel, 358 Westgate Road, Newcastle, NE4 6NU. Tel: 0191 272 4937.
First impressions: A hidden gem, comfortable with rustic charm.
Welcome: Friendly waiters, nothing is too much trouble.
Style, design and furnishings: Comfy and intimate.
Cuisine: Traditional Indian food and Italian dishes. Our Indian meals were good portion sizes and well-presented.
Service: Fantastic. Staff are at your service. Very attentive, cheerful and polite.
Value: Good value for money to match the food.
Disabled access: Restaurant is accessible, though a couple of small stairs.