I’m a big fan of Indian street food so was excited to hear that Dhaba at 15 was arriving on the Norwich scene. It boasts itself as Norwich’s first Indian street food restaurant and I was intrigued to see how it stacks up against some of my London favourites like Dishoom in the same category.
We arrived on a Tuesday evening around 6pm and it was dead. By dead, I mean that we were the only people in there for a good 30mins, but then it soon livened up with a big party. I can only assume it’s because being on Magdalen Street and fairly inconspicuous from the outside that it’s probably one of those places that you decide to go to, as opposed to stumble upon.
I was there with an old school friend so we took our time catching up. We didn’t feel rushed despite having the place to ourselves and they happily answered questions I had whilst deciding on the menu. There’s certainly a broad choice and I liked the sound of a lot on the menu. It was nice to see the British versions of Indian food relegated to a small box at the bottom of the menu, acknowledged as “British-Anglo curries” for those expecting your standard curry-house fare. I can’t help but feel with so many inventive dishes on the menu that it’d be a shame to try them – though I’m sure they’re great.
Dhaba at 15 don’t serve any alcohol and they don’t allow you to bring your own so we ordered a couple of Diet Cokes whilst we flicked through the menu. Not a problem for us and they have a decent-looking mocktail selection as well as your standard soft drinks.
The pineapple salsa with the grilled saffron prawns offered a pleasing fruitiness followed by a punch of spiciness. The pineapple wasn’t too overwhelming because of the heat from the chilli in the salsa and I really enjoyed them.
The masala fried squid was okay, neither of us were convinced that the sharp tomato salsa particularly went with the squid, though the squid was cooked well. The real star of the starters was the Hakka chilli paneer. The “Indochinese” (their words) spices immersed in a rich, sticky, sweet sauce which clung to the cubes of paneer. It had a kick but was delicious!
If I was being critical, I would say that having the exact same rocket, radish, swirl of dressing and pomegranate seed garnish for every starter is a bit lazy, especially for three such different starters with very different flavours. Minor criticisms aside, I did really enjoy them on the whole.
The butter chicken that I ordered for main was nothing short of beautiful. Every flavour in it was so well balanced and the chunks of chicken in it were huge. I didn’t bother with rice but had it with a Peshwari naan, my favourite! The naan was great too, not too sickly or greasy as can sometimes be the case.
The Sri Lankan prawn curry that my friend ordered was very different to my butter chicken, more delicate in flavour with a slightly sweet creaminess. The purple flowers on top contrasted with the vibrant yellow certainly made for a visually striking dish. It was enjoyable but not something I’d have chosen.
We also had a bowl of masala fries to share as a side, purely because we were intrigued. They’re fried in a pan with masala spicy sauce apparently. I really enjoyed them and dunked them in my butter chicken sauce. They had some heat to them too! You definitely need something to dunk them in or some kind of dip.
No room for dessert this time but the chocolate samosa did sound interesting… Maybe one for another visit.
Overall, I was really impressed with Dhaba at 15. They’re still a fairly new restaurant and I’m sure as time goes on they’ll refine and tweak things. It’s brilliant that Norwich has another new offering, especially one showcasing “proper” Indian street food. It’s not quite up to Dishoom’s level (yet) but it’s very early days and I’d happily return. There’s a good amount of veggie and vegan options too.
Price: ££ (It was about £40 each with 3 starters between two, two naans, two mains and one side – no alcohol or desserts).
Nearest car park: Colegate