You might recall a couple of weeks back, a friend and colleague of mine stepped up and wrote a review of Papaya Thai Cafe and Eatery in Camperdown. Well, ladies and gents, he loved the experience so much (and so did I) that he’s back for more! So, yet again, I’ll step aside and let said Friend take the floor with his very entertaining review of Jai Ho in Turramurra. Enjoy!
I was chatting with a friend of mine – we shall call her ‘Blonde Friend’ – about arranging a catch up. When she suggested Jai Ho in Turramurra for this get-together of old friends (‘Brunette Friend’ was also to attend), I mentally began to dance with joy to the tune of the restaurant’s namesake song. I would never actually do this, though, as my dancing somewhat represents an awkward penguin trying to swim, but he’s a drunk penguin and doesn’t realise he’s just flapping about in the snow.
Girlfriend and I have been coming to Jai Ho for some years. We went when it was under different ownership, trading as Magic Curries. We liked Magic Curries enough and when it changed hands we went back to see the difference. The Jai Ho staff and food was and continues to be an unparalleled experience of excellence in Indian cuisine.
The actual restaurant has nice warm colours, authentic décor, and a pleasant atmosphere. It has great energy and vibrancy on Thursday-Sunday nights, filled with patrons. It’s a bit quieter on the other weeknights, if that’s more your scene. It has an upstairs room for large groups and functions as well. The music there is relaxing and at an optimal volume. I have often heard ‘Jai Ho’ and remixes playing over the speakers, to my amusement.
A lot of Indian places pop up and you walk by seeing them empty, but Jai Ho has built up a solid customer base over the years, with good reason. I’m always greeted by name and enjoy a conversation with several of the staff there. I introduced Blonde Friend and Brunette Friend to the restaurant a couple of years ago at my birthday dinner, and Blonde Friend has been back many times since. It’s a bit further away from Brunette Friend.
Now to what you’re really here for – the food!
We began with an Assorted Tandoori Sampler. They have a great range of entrees but this is probably the best crowd pleaser with vegetarian samosa, lamb cutlet, beef and chicken tikka. Each holds its own; there is no ‘weak link’ on this platter. The flavours are strong, distinct but don’t clash. The spice isn’t overpowering but it’s strong enough to warm you up for the mains (pun totally intended).
This satiated our appetites while we waited for the main course. The time between courses is generally pretty good, and overall the service at Jai Ho is immaculate. I felt welcomed and taken care of on my first visit, and more and more like part of their big, delicious family every time I go back.
Blonde Friend has been aspiring to make a good daal curry at home but hasn’t been too successful yet. She remembered enjoying a ‘yellow daal’ a while ago, but forgot what it was actually called. She asked me for my opinion on which dish it was and I said Pumpkin Daal. She had waved more off dismissively – ‘No, it was something else!’ – but I was to be vindicated. With a slightly embarrassed look, she asked the waitress which daal ‘the yellow one’ was. An amused yet friendly smile came along with the answer ‘the Pumpkin Daal’. Blonde Friend was surprised, but decided to order it. She was worried it was going to be wrong and would not have been happy!
Alongside the main dishes, we had a nice bowl of rice. It was more than enough for us.
We also got some cheese, garlic and plain naan breads. The cheese naan (my personal favourite and comfort food) is pictured below.
The first main was served by the waitress – ‘Here is your Yellow Daal!’ Blonde Friend admitted defeat and that it was indeed the correct dish.
Vegetarian options can often be secondary concerns to just fill up the menu where the chef clearly cares only about the meat dishes. Jai Ho offers some outstanding chicken, lamb, beef and seafood meals but the vegetarian is just as strong. I know Girlfriend’s favourite is Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese). The Palak Paneer there is so good it inspired us to make our own homemade Indian cottage cheese – which was a success – although Pumpkin Daal is up there on her favourites, and it did not disappoint Blonde Friend either. The yellow daal had a two star spice rating. It is a warm and ambrosial meal, as gratifying as any meat dish.
Brunette Friend ordered the classic Butter Chicken.
Tender chicken and an addictive sauce, this is a star dish for a reason. It has the lowest spice rating, but it makes up for it in flavour. To my liking, there was a lot of extra sauce, which made it perfect for us to dip our naan breads in.
I was torn on what I wanted. This is because, like always, I want to eat everything. I’ve been at a few curry banquets before and always love having a bit of this and a bit of that. After some deliberation (that had been going on for about a week in anticipation of this dinner) I ended up with the Chicken Tikka Masala.
Mine did not have quite as much sauce as the Butter Chicken, but with a three star spice rating and sublime, savoury and scrumptious tandoori flavour, it didn’t matter. You can tell how delicious it is just by looking at the photo.
I also ordered a Mango Lassi on the side: partly because they are thick and delicious, and partly to help with the spices of the main course. Brunette Friend ordered a coke, a regrettable choice for three stars or higher, but it went fine with his Butter Chicken. Blonde Friend was happy with water.
I noticed that the Lassi (mango, strawberry and one other flavour I’ve forgotten) were listed both under the Beverages and Desserts headings. I thought nothing of it at the time.
We were fairly full and left alone to chat and catch up for a while. The staff cleared our plates quickly and quietly without disrupting conversation, letting us gasbag away. After a while, I reached to the empty adjacent table for a menu. Our waitress was there in a flash with menus for us. Ready to help and serve but not pushy is an excellent, albeit rare combination in dining these days. Brunette Friend and I fairly quickly decided to go for the vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Blonde Friend was taking longer to decide, slipping away from picking a dessert. The waitress gestured towards the Lassi under the Desserts heading, and said ‘If you want, the Mango Lassi is our only dessert that is yellow’. Blonde Friend’s head bowed over in shame as Brunette Friend and I howled with laughter. The waitress quickly apologised to Blonde Friend, worried she had offended her, but Brunette Friend and I thanked her sincerely for providing an ‘in-joke’ for us for years to come.
Blonde Friend, once she recovered, ordered the Mango Lassi for dessert.
We did not order any lamb or beef mains tonight, but I know from past experience they too are amazing. Lamb Rogan Josh and Beef Vindaloo are my favourites.
Jai Ho is a consistently top-quality restaurant in its service and food. Mains range from $12-16 from vegetarian to seafood. Entrée dishes are well-priced too. The naans seem a little steep ($4 for a cheese naan, $3.50 for a garlic) but I have never had a naan that can compete, so it justifies itself to me. I go there a lot for a reason, and would go more if my wallet was healthier and if my jeans could fit more of me in them. I recommend this place to all, whether you’re an Indian connoisseur or looking to give Indian food a try.
Would I go? Most definitely will be checking this place out! I can’t refuse a good Indian place!