City Spice is a family-run restaurant offering authentic Bangladeshi cuisine. To the untrained, Western eye the dishes are at first glance very similar to Indian food with the colours, smells and spices used being near identical. Yet when we actually dug into the individual items we ordered, the flavour explosion was one that was unique and I relished discovering the beautiful rich taste of the food; layer upon layer of flavour blending together into a perfect balance of spices and herbs.
Rather than exploring the dishes in set courses, the majority of our order was brought to the table at once so we could mix-and-match all the individual dishes to create our own perfect blend of meat, vegetables, rice and naan. I ordered the City Spice Delight (whole spring chicken marinated with specially prepared spicy sauce baked in a tandoori clay oven, Stuffed with spinach and cheese and garnished with fried onions and coriander) as my main, with a side of Bhindy Bhaji (dry okra with mixed turmeric, ground spices and fried onions), Cheese Garlic Nan (bread stuffed with cheese and garlic), and Plain Rice (boiled pure Basmati).
To compliment my dishes, my friend ordered the Lamb Dansak (cooked with lentils in a medium spicy sauce, sweet and sour paste) for a main, with the addition of Bombay Aloo (potato cooked with dry spices), Tarka Daal (spicy lentils), and Peshwari Nan (bread stuffed with almonds and coconut).
With exception of the daal, which was a tad more watery than I hoped for, not reaching the same depths of flavour as the other dishes, each of the items we ordered was spot on in terms of presentation, taste and their incredible ability to fit smoothly together with any combination of the other dishes on the table. Adding a little bit of each dish on my plate and trying a variety of flavour combinations, not a single bite tasted the same as one that came before it – and each one was a delightful journey through a whole myriad of exciting flavours. I was also sipping a Mango Lassi throughout, which provided a refreshing change from the rich flavours of the food and it was the perfect palate cleanser in between bites.
My friend too thought that the dishes were very tasty, especially the potato and lamb, which she said had a nice flavour and weren't too spicy. The chicken was also lovely and you could taste the smokiness of the Tandoori oven throughout, however she wasn't too keen on it being a whole chicken on the bone. For me, personally, this wasn't an issue (it made for a great presentation), however dishing up was slightly more challenging.
While we were well and truly stuffed from the food by the end of our visit (we didn't even manage to finish the dishes), we of course couldn't leave without trying one of the items on the dessert menu too. We shared a vibrant fruit Kulfi, which looks like ice cream, and it was cold, but it's not like ice cream I am used to. It was a lot sweeter and reminded me of barfi (an Indian candy), making me think that kulfi is also made with a condensed milk. The fresh, fruity flavour definitely came through, and like my mango lassi earlier on in the evening it provided a light palate cleanser from the otherwise very rich flavours of the food we ate.
We loved our visit to City London on Brick Lane. The restaurant was small but cosy, and the staff very friendly and welcoming. Most of all though, the food was incredibly tasty and it was a joy exploring the beautiful, rich flavours of the dishes we ordered. We'll definitely be back so we can take a further journey along the authentic flavours of Bangladesh and discover more tasty dishes along the way.
City Spice is located on 138 Brick Ln, London E1 6RU. The restaurant is open 12pm-12am most days, closing 11pm on Sundays and Mondays.