Almost two years ago my wife joined me on a trip to England that allowed us to search for the best "curry" in the U. K. Officially this was business since I had a number of meetings in Manchester, Birmingham and London. Truthfully it was an opportunity for 9 meals in 6 days at restaurants that I had persistently and thoroughly researched as worth the incredible caloric investment that this was going to take. On Wilmslow Road in Manchester (England's second largest city) they have a once a year "Curry Championship" with the winning restaurant (there are almost 100 in a nine or ten block stretch) hoisting a victory banner that assures long lines for the coming year.
We ate at the last three years' champions with Shere Khan our favorite. In fact after dinner one night we returned for lunch the next day-and ordered the exact same meal.
We drove into the countryside, thirty miles north of Manchester to a local legend called Shazan. It alone was almost worth the trip to the U. K.
In London we went to the top three listed in Zagat, which frankly, had little to do with the curry palaces of Wilmslow Road. The Michelin starred Zaika which was also the winner of the London Restaurant Award as "Best Indian" in the city may have had some of the best and most creative "modern Indian" food that I have ever tasted. Certainly the most original. Chicken Biryani had a pastry crust covering its porcelain serving bowl that when flaked with a fork allowed an aroma that caused nearby diners to turn and, in the case of a couple next to us, ask for a bite.
Zaika also had incredible Chicken Tikka Masala and Kashmir rice.
Some, such as Star of India and others which were highly regarded in Time Out, Zagat and other sources disappointed, not on the level of Zaika, Shere Khan or Shazan.
When we returned to D. C. our obsession began, our quest to find Chicken Tikka Masala and Kashmir rice the equal of not just what was good for the U. K. but rather, what was the absolute BEST in the U. K. such as what we found on Wilmslow Road at the past curry champions.
We looked for two years-I even posted a message on here. Several e-mail responses sounded really promising. One, which we received at 6:30 in the evening, found us on the Beltway driving the 45 miles from Reston to Smoketown Road near Potomac Mills where we were seated 15 minutes before they closed. Others saw trips to Langley Park, to Baltimore, even northern New Jersey to an Indian enclave which was reputed to be extraordinary. Of course we ate our way through K St., Connecticut Avenue, Bethesda, Herndon, Falls Church, even Heritage of India on Wisconsin Avenue (great Tandoori shrimp) and just about everywhere else.
No where was there anything that even came close to what I would call average for the U. K. let alone among the best.
At Tysons Corner. My God! Of all the places on the face of the earth to find this. Tysons Corner. Who would have thought!
Bombay Tandoor was reviewed in the Washington Post a number of months ago. It was a positive review by Tom Sietsema one that caused us to put it on a list to eventually visit. Well, tonight we did.
We had four things: Tandoori shrimp which were truly mediocre at best, nan with fruit and nuts (examplary), Kashmir rice (again with fruit and nuts) and Chicken Tikka Masala, the national dish of the United Kingdom.
The last two were as good as Shere Khan on Wilmslow Road.
I know nothing else about ANY of the other food in this restaurant. I make absolutely no claim about anything other than the Chicken Tikka Masala and Kashmir rice. In fact for what may be twenty or twenty five visits over the next few months (?) we will probably not have anything else.
We don't need to.
But to know just addictive, how fattening, how, well, satisfying a dish can be I would suggest a trip to Bombay Tandoor. This is on a street that runs on the side of Moore Cadillac off of Route 7. It's in an office building several blocks in. It's actually rather big, almost like a banquet room. Really, there is no atmosphere to speak of.
Don't dare go there and order anything else. Nothing else. Only Chicken Tikka Masala and Kashmir rice. If you do just think of all the money you will have saved by not having had to fly to England.