Zayka is one of Ealing’s best kept secrets, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Broadway but close enough that you could walk there in five to ten minutes. Zayka has a great reputation with the locals for providing fresh, authentic Indian and Nepalese food in a contemporary setting.
From the outside, Zayka looks like a fairly modern establishment which is a theme that is consistent throughout. Even though the restaurant has been there a fairly long time, they have managed to keep it fresh and bright with tiled flooring throughout, white painted walls adorning horizontal mirrors which give the feeling the place is bigger than it is. Situated close to both South Ealing tube station and Ealing Broadway, this is a great place to eat after sampling some of the great local watering holes. It is also a stone’s throw away from Ealing Studios, if you happen to be visiting.
Zayka has a great feel to it when you walk in, a bit like when you enter a nice gastro pub where they have an open fire on the go. It is welcoming and warming with hundreds of different conversations going on throughout the restaurant. The staff are extremely polite and friendly and you can be left to enjoy your meal without feeling like you are going to be ousted for the next arrival of hungry punters. Booking is highly recommended, otherwise you could end up sitting by the door, which means sharp drafts and food that doesn’t stay piping hot for very long.
A great way to kick off your meal is with a mixed starter which consists of cubes of lamb and chicken tikka, which have a real barbecue flavour to them, as well as a sheek kebab and a quarter of tandoori chicken. Incidentally this tastes exactly the same as the cubes of chicken except it isn’t on the bone. The lamb can be a little bit chewy and somewhat bland in taste whereas the sheek kebab is soft and flavoursome with chopped up spices and a sufficient amount of seasoning.
The mains include a number of traditional dishes such as the dopeaza, bhuna and rogan josh, as well as a number of house specialities that are worth sampling. The chicken tikka jalfrezi lacks that real chilli punch but is packed full of tomatoey flavour and perfectly cooked meat, and no shortage of it. If you like your curries a bit spicier, the staff are more than happy to accommodate your personal preferences. The sides include the mouth watering sag paneer which comes with cubes of cheese in spinach which has been cooked with spices and a bit of chilli, albeit very mild. This is a really tasty accompaniment to a main course, although the amount of cheese is a bit limited compared to the spinach. Another delight is the aloo gobi and this entire dish is turmeric yellow with black mustard seeds and a semi-rich onion like sauce. The potatoes are soft and fluffy and the cauliflower is just slightly more than al dente. This can be nicely finished off with a garlic naan to mop up the remnants of your dishes. All hot dishes arrive on a little stand with candles underneath to keep them warm. For starters you can expect to pay between £3 and £6, side dishes are a similar price mains are £6 to £8.
Zayka boasts a good selection of wines ranging from £15 to £25 and the quality isn’t bad either. You’re certainly not going to find a cheeky vintage on the menu but there is a good enough selection to come away with a hearty glass of red. You wouldn’t go far wrong with a mid-range bottle of Merlot, medium to heavy with a hint of chocolate and oaky flavours. Equally, if you’re not a wine connoisseur, you’ll find a decent selection of lagers to choose from.
The Last Word
If you’re looking for a traditional, authentic Indian meal in a bright and bustling setting, then Zayka is the place to go. You may not come away from there thinking you’ve had the most amazing meal in your life but you’ll certainly want to re-visit.