Review by Tom Ogg
“The best Indian restaurant in Jersey” – so says the blurb on the Noya Shapla website.
Well, I have visited a fair number of restaurants over the years that have made similar claims and, sadly it isn’t often that the food lives up to the hype (I once ate at a café in Birmingham that promised ‘finest full English breakfast in the country’ – alas, the resultant brekkie wasn’t even the finest in Birmingham).
Happily however, Noya Shapla is one restaurant that more than gets away with the boast.
Along with my JEP colleague Debbie, I visited the St Aubin restaurant last week and was instantly made to feel welcome by manager and co-founder Joe Miah and his friendly, attentive staff.
After a welcoming glass of wine, and some seriously good papadums and dips, it was time to order our starters. I contemplated trying a dish called the paneer special (a fairly hot selection of grilled homemade Indian cheese, with herbs, spices and sun-dried red chilli), but instead opted for the prawn puri after Joe said it would be made with ‘the very freshest local seafood.’
The prawns promptly arrived drenched in a delicious sweet and sour sauce – creamy, but with a satisfying spicy kick – and served on a soft bed of puri bread, and they did indeed taste of mouthwateringly fresh.
Debbie also chose a seafood dish – local Jersey crab bortha – which was described on the menu as ‘hand-picked crab mixed with aromatic herbs and spices and grilled’. Unlike me, Debbie doesn’t possess a never-endingly insatiable appetite and so kindly let me try some of her crab – once again, the freshness of the seafood was evident with every mouthful.
Joe then returned to the table and, after asking me about the type of Indian food I most enjoy (all of it, basically, although hot madras curries especially), he suggested that I try the jall jall naga.
I’m pleased I took his advice, as the resulting dish was a thing of spicy wonder: a luscious blend of marinated chicken breast, with onions, peppers, fresh tomato, coriander and seemingly dozens of different spices all battling for supremacy on my taste buds.
It was a sizeable portion, too, but I happily polished off the lot, including the accompanying naan bread and a bowl of mushroom rice, the latter of which was so soft and tender that you could feel the individual grains falling apart in your mouth.
Also on Joe’s recommendation, Debbie chose the chicken karahi for her main, which was a medium dish with onion and peppers in – as the menu put it – ‘a thick flavorsome sauce’ (the menu wasn’t lying).
The best Indian restaurant in Jersey?
I couldn’t possibly say – but if our meal is anything to go by, it’s sure to be one of the most popular.