“ Biddenden Road / St Michaels / Tenterden / Kent / TN30 6SX / Tel: 01233 851191 „
On Sunday night I went out for dinner with my mate G. We have barely seen each other recently as we've both been living away from home. To celebrate her graduation and my survival of a year working in a hospital, we went to the Raja of Kent to gorge ourselves.
The Raja of Kent is an Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant just outside of Tenterden, Kent, where I live. The address is Biddenden Rd, St. Michaels, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6SX. It's on the A262 towards Biddenden if you're coming from Ashford or Biddenden. There are no public transport links to this location.
The restaurant used to be a pub and the building looks a bit like a large cottage. It's based on a fairly sharp bend in the road and looks fairly out of place - just because it's a curry house in the middle of the country. This is not your average 2am beer-boy's curry house though, it's far classier. Inside the design is contemporary; white walls and abstract artwork adorning the walls. When you walk in, no need to open the doors, because a man dressed as some sort of sultan is there to do it for you. There is a small bar area where you can wait to pick up your takeaway, have a drink while waiting for a table or make a reservation.
G and I sat down and even though there was only two of us, they gave us a table for four, but this was pretty necessary considering the amount of food we ordered. We ordered a bottle of house white (£10-odd) and a jug of tap water (the mark of students and/or cheapskates) and began to peruse the menu, in between chattering away about all sorts. The waiter asked us if we wanted poppadums immediately and I said yes, while G sat there going, "what are they?"- bless her, she's only ever been for a curry once before! The poppadums come with the usual raita dip, mango chutney and lime pickle (which normally I can eat on toast, but this stuff was HOT), plus some chopped onions and some other sweet pepper type dip which is delicious.
We took ages with the menu but the waiters did not pressure us to order quickly, they gave us all the time in the world. I had already been to the Raja for my 21st birthday and so I pretty much took control of the ordering, as G didn't have a clue what anything was. We chose one starter, one side veggie dish, a pilau rice, a mushroom rice, a biryani and a chicken pasanda. I honestly cannot tell you how long the food took to arrive as I wasn't clock watching, but we still had some poppadum left when the starter did so it couldn't have been long. We had king prawn butterfly to share- which was basically a large flattened out prawn in tandoori breadcrumbs, lovely!
The waiter put stainless steel hotplates down on the table and started laying down our food. There was so much of it! We had ordered the two rice dishes AND a biryani- which is meat mixed up with rice anyway, so there was loads. The waiter asked us if we would like to cancel one of them so we sent our pilau back. I was really impressed with this- most places would never even offer to take food back if they can see their customers have blatantly ordered too much, you can practically see the pound signs flash up in their eyes.
We dug into our food, which was all gorgeous. We shared everything and I had tried to order not too spicy as G isn't too keen (and with Sunday's heat, spicy food was best avoided). The pasanda was deliciously creamy. When I was younger I used to like a korma but I now find they are far too sweet, so a pasanda is ideal for those who like creamy mild dishes as it doesn’t taste like a chicken filled pudding like a lot of kormas do in my opinion! The biryani was vast- I always have that dish as there's so much of it, with the vegetable curry on the side. The mushroom rice was gorgeous- a bit fatty but not disgustingly greasy. It only had small pieces of mushroom in, and is just lovely. We also had Saag Aloo (spinach and potatoes) as a side, which was just delicious too. All the portions were generously sized, and after our poppadums and starter, we were pretty full by this point and so asked if we could take the rest home.
After we regained the ability to move, we waddled out of the door pubwards with our bag of food and £40 less in our purses (that's altogether). I think the prices are really reasonable considering the supreme quality of the food. £40 including a bottle of wine, for all that fodder was just excellent- and my share of my mornings boot-fairing with my mum covered my share of the bill! Brilliant!
I did not use the toilets in the restaurant on this occasion but I did on my previous visit. They are clean, but very cramped, you virtually have to climb around the door.
The wheelchair access to the restaurant itself is OK, but I can imagine it would be quite a job to use the toilet, so work those pelvic floor muscles and hold it in!
My dad's complaint when we went before was that there were terrible acoustics- he is half deaf and has Menieres disease so I think the noise got to him a bit. On this occasion though, I didn't notice this- perhaps because the restaurant was significantly emptier on a Sunday night than on a Friday.
I managed to book the restaurant that afternoon- G is not the most reliable of souls, so I waited to the last minute when I knew she was definitely coming along. I knew that if we couldn't get a table, we could go instead to the Mouchak, also in Tenterden and owned by the same people. The Mouchak is smaller and more decorated more traditionally. Most of the food is the same and actually 20-50p cheaper per dish, but there are a few added dishes at the Raja. In retrospect we may as well have gone cheaper and gone to the Mouchak, as the menu options we chose were pretty ordinary but I prefer the atmosphere in the Raja, with the white walls, its much lighter and ore modern and seems airier.
To book, call: 01233 851191
Mouchak for back-up: 01580 761313