Stewart McRobert samples the fare at one of the city’s best Indian eateries.
What’s in a name? Voujon, at Newington Road in Edinburgh is intriguing. Its simple title gives nothing away, but a little investigation reveals one of the city’s most impressive Bengali/Indian restaurants.
It transpires that Voujon translates from the ancient Bangla language as ‘Invitation to dine’. That sounds a tempting offer and we took it up one spring evening.
Immediate first impressions were positive. The tables were laid with fresh white linen, the welcome was genuinely warm, and the atmosphere suggested a relaxing evening was in store.
Equally encouraging was the to-ing and fro-ing of customers who had given take-away orders. It was clear they were regular visitors and the level of friendly chat between them and the Voujon staff indicated that the restaurant was valued by the people in this part of the city.
Luckily, we had the chance to find out if and why this was the case.
First up was a spread of papadoms and three distinct but complementary appetisers; sweet, hot and spicy – all the bases were covered. Next, I selected Sardine Bhorta, described as ‘sardines cooked in a tomato based sauce with coriander, onion, diced potatoes and fresh herbs and spices served with a chapati and salad.’ It was delightful; a smooth combination of fish, vegetables and herbs that provided an ideal way to start.
Across the table, Helen had chosen Chicken Tikka Stir Fry – small pieces of marinated chicken stir fried with cubed onions, peppers, tomatoes and fresh coriander, with mushrooms and peas. She was equally pleased with her dish. I could tell by the speed with which it disappeared.
While we sat back and exchanged notes about those opening plates, our next courses were being prepared.
I had decided to keep things simple, choosing Sabzi Makkani. In other words, mixed vegetables in a spicy, buttery sauce. All sorts of vegetables can be used in this traditional north Indian dish so it has a wide range of variants. The version devised and executed by the chefs at Voujon was superb – luscious, rich and rewarding.
While I was concentrating on devouring this, Helen had opted for Tandoori Galda Chingree. According to the Voujon menu this king prawn dish is enjoyed in most Indian coastal towns. Stealing a sample I could see why. It contains the seafood marinated in tamarind, chilli and turmeric paste and roasted in the tandoor oven. The crisply coated prawns had been precisely cooked and were bursting with flavour.
After manfully tackling the generous servings we took our time to select our final dishes.
Again, simplicity was the watchword – I opted for a coconut ice cream and Helen chose a mango kulfi.
Both proved a refreshing finish to an outstanding meal.
Creating a long lasting and successful Bengali or Indian restaurant in a major UK city is not always easy. The competition is fierce and customers are used to high standards.
However, Voujon has prospered and become an established part of Edinburgh’s restaurant domain. You could even say it’s made an outstanding and distinctive name for itself.
To book your meal, visit www.voujonedinburgh.com