Tucked away in the quiet corner of a shipyard, itself in the quiet corner of a fairly quiet town, is the best Indian food you will find in Cornwall.
This was all the information I needed to go on, when I went to try Daaku, Penryn – the highest rated Indian restaurant in the county according to TripAdvisor.
As with all hidden gems, Daaku doesn’t need to disguise himself as something, it’s not to trick people into flipping them over.
Read: Morrisons Brings Back The Hottest Curry Ever – And A Curry Pizza
And dressing, on the outside, is certainly not the case. When you arrive at Islington Quay, you would be wrong not to know that a first class Indian restaurant is waiting outside the half-built sailboat yard.
After a few confused minutes of wondering if I was in the wrong place, I spotted a small yellow board with the same logo as the restaurant’s website.
Myself and the unwitting person I took away walked past the temporary scaffolding and metal fence and finally reached Daaku. It’s a total clichÃ©, but the exterior is a complete contrast to what is in the restaurant.
When you get to Daaku the first thing you will notice is that he is shameless Indian.
When we arrived, over a silent speaker, there was Bollywood music from the 1990s, accompanying movie posters on the wall for the Indian classics Bandit Queen and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai.
Photos, paintings and decorations adorn the walls and ceiling of Daaku depicting the many regions of the vast country, from a Keralan elephant to cities in northern India.
The colorful restaurant has only eight tables which, by the time we left, were all full.
What is also clear is the cultural fusion of the team behind it.
Run by husband and wife Jasmine, from Rajasthan, India, and Ben, born and raised in Cornwall, Daaku’s website tells the story of the couple mixing their heritage together to create something special.
Jasmine, of Punjabi descent, brings her experience as her grandmother’s âsous chefâ to her Rajasthani home before traveling the country to learn about India’s myriad of regional methods and recipes. .
Meanwhile, her husband Cornishman Ben is an award-winning chef by trade who brings his talent to the kitchen and his passion for Indian cuisine, as well as local produce.
On the menu, which changes weekly, there was a narrow range of small plates, main courses, sides and desserts – as well as a fairly standard drink menu.
The food, although there are only four options for the main courses, shows a variety of tastes.
We ordered the Lahsuni Garlic Chicken and Paneer Shahi – two dishes you would surely be familiar with – along with a basmati rice each and two pieces of tandoori bread.
After waiting a little over ten minutes (we were early, just after the restaurant opened), the food arrived, each part in a separate metal dish.
The chicken was, on the menu, described as being cooked in a “bold garlic” sauce, which makes it spookier than it should – it was phenomenal.
With really fragrant rice and Indian pickle bread this was the best curry I have had in Cornwall.
The chicken was in pieces small enough to really absorb the flavor of the curry sauce, and the whole garlic cloves gave it a potent flavor appropriate to match the kick of the spices.
It was also gorgeous, showing the chef’s clear love for the craft.
The same goes for the paneer, a cheese dish with tomato and hazelnut sauce.
For this dish, the menu described it as “really delicious” and Chef Ben’s favorite. I can not verify if it is is actually Ben’s favorite, but I can confirm it’s delicious.
Again, going perfectly with the rice and accompanying bread, the paneer was a familiar but superior version of a dish one would find in many Indian takeaways with a more pronounced nutty aftertaste. that heat – which is always a good sign.
The paneer and the chicken had a full spectrum of spicy flavors behind them, with a mild to medium heat of the chili.
Neither course was piping hot which is good as this is a restaurant, not a place to prove how good you are.
While we were eating we were checked by the friendly owner Jasmine who briefly introduced herself and explained a bit of the history of the restaurant and its heritage.
At other tables, she also gave people insight into the regions of India where the food came from.
A few tables away, chef Ben did the same. Another nice touch, and it was reassuring to hear every table say something to the tune of “we will definitely be back”.
If you are used to ordering Indians from home, you will be used to huge portions that are too large for a mortal to finish.
At Daaku, they went for normal, human-sized portions that were just perfect to be a meal, rather than some sort of challenge.
I enjoyed the food with a Kingfisher lager, while my companion opted for the Rattler pineapple. Even the drinks menu, while nothing special, was a tribute to the cultural fusion of India and Cornwall.
We ended with a Halva in between, which for the uninitiated is a very rich, nutty dessert which in this case was served with ghee butter to balance things out.
Another success, with the sweet Halva at the end of the meal.
It was also the perfect amount of food to be full but not to crave mercy from your own body.
Our bill was Â£ 57.85 – certainly on the high end but in all fairness not much more than the equivalent take out food.
And with a menu that changes weekly, phenomenal food, great service, and a truly unique experience – you would easily pay double for the same in a pretentious London location. And there, it would not be so authentic.
âI highly recommendâ is not enough. Do yourself a favor and check out our Daaku if you get the chance.
They are open from Thursday to Saturday each week and also offer take-out meals as well as sit-ins.
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