To be honest, if I didn’t already know the name of the restaurant, I wouldn’t have guessed that it was an Indian restaurant. The interior was quite modern with the slight hint of Indian culture exemplified in the copper pots and rich colors. The music wasn’t the usual Indian folk songs with the distinctive sound of the sitar in the background. In fact, it was an intermesh of Middle Eastern music, Greek pop, and Spanish Flamenco... Identity crisis? However, the atmosphere was very lively and people seemed to be enjoying their time.
As for the service, have you ever been in the situation when your waiter just keeps hovering over your table, asking you “How’s the food ma’am?”, “Can I get you anything?”, watching you eat, and just making the rest of your meal completely uncomfortable?? Ugh! I shall find a name for them soon. Anyways, that wasn’t the case in Ushna, it was actually hard to grab a hold of your waiter each time he pops in and out of your sightline! But in their defense it was quite busy.
Now to the good part… the food. Like most Indian restaurants, the Papadum accompanied with the Dakshin chutneys is a no-brainer (spicy, crispy goodness for the win!). And for drinks, I had a virgin strawberry margherita which was absolutely delicious.
To start your meal, I would recommend the Dal Shorbah (Lentil Soup) which was very well seasoned and you’d have that little surprise at the bottom of the pot, mini rice cakes. They served it with a small pocket of philo pastry stuffed with crushed cumin and spices, which I found rather unnecessary…
As for the appetizers and main courses, they really have a knack for grilling things, the salmon was cooked nicely, and the chicken and lamb were well-seasoned and not very hard and rubbery. The Dal Makhani was not the best I’ve had, even though I speak from a biased position (Dal Makhani junkie right here), I would give it a 7/10, which is not bad at all.
On the flipside, the Biryani (prawn, chicken, any shape or form) was not authentic at all. It was closer to yellow plain rice than any flavorsome, aromatic rice (which is the essence of a good Biryani). The rice wasn’t even well cooked; this is why I would recommend avoiding it unless you order it with some sort of curry (Butter Chicken highly recommended –heavenly-), and emphasize to your waiter on the necessity of cooking it thoroughly.
The winner here really was the naan… oh the heavenly naan. Large slices of soft, warm clouds of bread. Oh it was perfection. They were rather thick, which is how I like them, none of those burned edges that you breathe in by mistake and choke on and just make a complete mess of your side of the table.
For dessert, I tried the Julab Gamon which I found to be too sweet it almost ruined it for me (almost). And believe me, I rarely find anything to be “too sweet”. The Ras Malai, on the other hand, was really good. It was subtly flavored with saffron which added a new dimension to the usual milky sweetness.
All in all, I would definitely be an Ushna-repeater, maybe when I’m really craving Indian and Indigo is under renovation or maintenance. 7/10 … made it by a naan.
*Photo taken from TimeOut Abu Dhabi