I am not sure how it happened… but over the last couple of years Urban Tadka in Terrey Hills has slowly entered our busy lives of young parents and has turned into a standard weekend routine of tasty Indian takeaway. It’s been a number of years now since we had started with phone orders and pick-ups from this local restaurant on the Northern Beaches, and the quality of the dishes has always been unanimously good. A glimpse into the restaurant’s dining room on pick-up revealed on most occasions a packed house full with happy dinners, so after more than three years we felt that it was high time to find out what it was like to actually eat right at the restaurant and not at home.
So on our first opportunity to dine out we head to Terrey Hills to check if dining off the restaurant’s plates rather than plastic containers was as equally good or even better.
The restaurant is located resort-style on Mona Vale Road, which makes it almost rural and gives it this almost otherworldly atmosphere, surrounded by vast gardens and dining areas which are decorated with Indian statues and romantic light chains in the trees.
The interior is pretty – a water feature in the entrance area, giant tropical flower bouquets, oversized ceiling lamps. We are escorted to our table and given our menus. We are familiar with most of the dishes due to our year-long love affair with Urban Tadka’s take-away, but this time we want to dine restaurant style, so we give each dish renewed consideration.
We chuckle a bit about the descriptions of the dishes, they are very flowery and Indian-style. Here’s one example: “English spinach cooked with cottage cheese and corn morsels in the most tradional way. making it so lovable.” But they do give you quite a good idea of what to expect, given that proper Indian food will always be a complex interplay of spices and flavours.
We decide to give the mixed starter platter a try. There are four different items – enough to keep both of us happy. The chicken pieces have been given the tikka treatment and are soft and fiery red. The seekh are wonderfully flavoured and come in a fantastic sauce that we mop up like greedy monsters.
The vegetable croquettes have the carnivore 50% of us convinced to eat more vegetables again, while the samosas are nice and sweet. Overall, a great combination of sample flavours and a good way to start our Indian feast.
The mains arrive – a curry of chicken and mushrooms, which turns out to be a beautiful mix of buttery and smoky aromas, and a vegetarian option with okras and pumpkin – the okras fried to the core to set free maximum flavours, and the pumpkin to add creamy sweetness to this dish. We are equally pleased with both mains, although the okra dish does come with a fair bit of salt.
Bread is a must for us, so we order a naan with our curries, specifically the Fancy Naan as they call it on the menu: spiced up with garlic, sesame seeds and coriander it arrives at our table in an aromatic cloud of goodness. I don’t think we will ever order plain naan bread again. Here is our new benchmark!
Since all of the dishes are rather spicy and bursting of exotic flavours I order some refreshing cucumber and tomato salad which is probably eaten with papadoms in a traditional set-up, but I fail to order these (enough food on the table already) and I sense our waitress does not approve. Which is a bit disappointing, since we have ordered plenty of food and shouldn’t feel snubbed.
Anyway, the food is good, authentic and mouthfuls of booming flavours. Even though we cannot finish the curries we round off our meal with not just one but two desserts – vanilla ice cream with lychees, and dumplings doused in honey and rose extract. The later is chewy and sweet thanks to the honey, and strangely addictive. I finish it to its very last morsel and fill my belly beyond reason, disregarding any dietary guidelines, and I feel happily satisfied.
Urban Tadka clearly is the best Indian restaurant on the Northern beaches, and now that we have actually eaten here and not just taken their food home we feel a new sense of connection with this place. Our choices of dishes will change the way we order in, although we can attest that the lamb dish “Jallandhar se balti gosht” as well as the super fiery pork vindaloo won’t disappoint either.
You need to try the Fancy Naan and let me know if you’ve ever had a better naan bread in your life!
The restaurant is best enjoyed in summer when the outdoor area is open, but do make sure you book in advance as Urban Tadka can be very busy at times, in particular when they cater for an Indian wedding party.
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