Zan Zi Bar, as you can tell from the name, is an eating place with a difference. It describes itself as a mix between a pub and a sprawling Indian restaurant. Whatever it is, it’s mighty popular with the residents of north-west London.
Unless you live in Edgware, there’s probably no reason to visit a place like Zan Zi Bar as you may well have your own favourite local Indian restaurant. That said, however, a trip on the Northern Line is worth making just to see how unusual Zan Zi Bar really is. It looks like a pub because customers drink at the front bar but progress to the back of the room where you’ll find a real Indian restaurant serving fine Punjabi and North Indian food in the most informal of surroundings. The restaurant is a very lively place which attracts families for both drinking and dining. While you are there you can also enjoy a touch of Bollywood or big sporting events on the giant plasma screen.
Even before you reach the food, the atmosphere hits you as Zan Zi Bar seems to be a great meeting place with a real buzz, much like any pub worth its beer might be. Young people, some with their families, and older folk provide a wide cross section of customers all having a good time. The formula is obviously just right and works perfectly.
The owners call the restaurant a spice island in the heart of Edgware, and you’ll agree. Since it opened in 2001, it’s been serving authentic cuisine cooked in the north Indian Dhaba style. There are some dishes you may not find anywhere else in London, such as chicken tikka on the bone. This is a very good starter and it certainly packs more flavour when it’s served boned. Another excellent starter is the crispy vegetables, a mixture of peppers, broccoli and carrots deep-fried in a crisp and light batter rather like Japanese tempura vegetables: this is a real winner. The Kathi kebab is an interesting mixture of shredded vegetables served in a bread wrap with either chicken or paneer (cheese), another top dish. There’s also a full list of other snacks and savoury starters.
Main courses offer various chicken and lamb curry dishes, fish tikka, tandoori lamb chops, chilli fish, a mixed grill of kebabs and prawn curry. Chicken Lababdar is an unusual dish, with marinated chicken cooked with onions, tomatoes and peppers in a thick sauce, not too spicy and in fact quite subtly flavoured. The classic Rogan Josh has an intense flavour from the lamb pieces cooked in whole Indian spices. Accompaniments include sarson da saag, a tasty vegetable dish of mustard leaves and spinach, and vegetable pulao, an amazing rice dishes that includes mixed vegetables and delicious whole potatoes. Breads such as garlic naan are also recommendable and, like all the dishes, are freshly cooked to order, something that is obvious from the sheer quality of the food at Zan Zi Bar. For dessert, the traditional mango and pistachio kulfi are sweet and refreshing.
Apart from all the usual beers, wines and spirits obtainable at the bar, there’s a wide selection of wines from around the world priced at under £12 to £26. House wine is also available by the glass from around £3. Cocktails, champers and shooters are also served, plus soft drinks, juices and non-alcoholic mocktails.
The Last Word
Edgware is at the end of one of the Northern Line branches but it’s certainly worth a detour if only to enjoy the flavoursome food and congenial atmosphere of Zan Zi Bar. Prices are reasonable with starters from under £3.50 and most mains at around £7, another good reason to make the trip.