Cheerful, fresh dishes straight from the streets of India
Deputy Culture Editor – Food & Drink
A few weeks ago I was walking home along Sauchiehall and a tourist asked me for directions to Garage. “I think it’s on Sauchiehall Street, where all the really good clubs are?” he said. I pointed him in the right direction, not quite knowing how to break the news that Sauchiehall Street possibly wasn’t the kind of Glasvegas Strip I think he was expecting.
It’s certainly got its fair share of gems, though. The Squid & Whale kitchen at Nice’N’Sleazy will give you as good a burrito as anywhere, and I do sort of love Mango’s kitsch slush-puppy frozen margaritas. Tuk Tuk, named after those three-wheeled Asian rickshaws, is a newer addition, having opened its doors in January following the success of its Edinburgh counterpart.
Indian street food is the focus here, and they do it well. The menu is of the vogueish succession-of-small-plates type, a good proportion of dishes veggie-friendly. We get some poppadoms and chutneys while we pore over it, and these first signs are encouraging—there’s a proper hit of fresh mango in the chutney, sweet and fragrant; the spiced onions are seductively lambent and pink with the right level of heat.
The first of our dishes to arrive is a perfectly good plate of vegetable pakora, which I’m reasonably confident is the first pakora I’ve ever had while sober, and it doesn’t disappoint with its crispy gram coating and little pot of rich, sweet sauce. Bengali fish-cakes are a fine (if largely forgettable) affair accessorised with a yogurty sauce that’s fresh with mint.
The curries are good, too, especially at £5ish a pop. A lamb kolhapuri is warm with coriander, and the meat is fork-tender from the long, slow cooking. I’m thankful for the abundance of sauce here, which is quickly mopped up with the properly delicious naan— alternately crisp and fluffy and chewy, blistered on the top, everything a naan should be. The potato and aubergine curry is fine, but it pales next to the unquestionable stand-out: a gorgeously velvety daal makhni, the 24-hour-cooked lentils bobbing like little black jewels in the lusciously creamy mix of fragrant spices.
By the time we’ve finished I’m full to the point of having genuine concerns about the feasibility of walking home, but the temptations of a dessert menu prove to be irresistible. I’m glad, because the gajar halwa, a kind of carrot-based pudding, rounds everything off nicely—it’s as if a rice pudding met a carrot cake down the road in Garage and this is the sweetly spiced result.
Would I come back? Definitely. A couple of dishes fall slightly short—the potato & aubergine curry and those fishcakes are both fairly unmemorable. But the rest are more than good enough to make up for it; hell, I’d come back just for the daal makhni. Maybe I should’ve sent that tourist here instead.