Scotland's Daily Record Akbar's Glasgow Review
Akbar's: 573-581 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7PQ
Jul 28 2012 By Tam Cowan
Phew! When I finally got round to writing this week’s review, I discovered I had FIVE sets of notes spread over THREE notebooks.
So, yes, I think it’s safe to say I’ve enjoyed Akbar’s.
But why wait until my fifth visit before waxing lyrical about it in the Saturday mag?
Well, the fact Akbar’s is (a) in Glasgow and (b) an Indian restaurant, meant it was just too easy. Trust me, folks. In the 14 years of doing these reviews, I could have quite cheerfully written up an Indian restaurant in Glasgow every single Saturday.
After all, that’s what I eat every other night of the week.
I think I’ve also kept Akbar’s out of the paper for so long because I was hoping to keep it a secret.
Too late! From the minute this small chain (the first of 11 restaurants opened in Bradford in 1995) set up in Glasgow back in March, it has been absolutely mobbed seven nights a week.
On every one of my five visits (two Thursdays, two Wednesdays and even one Tuesday at 9.40pm) loads of Asian punters have packed the place out – always a good sign – and I’ve had to wait 15/20 minutes for a table.
On Fridays and Saturdays, I imagine they must have a queue at the door like the Boxing Day sale at Harrods.
Tell you what, though, it’s always well worth the wait.
The food is absolutely delicious – I promise anybody who likes a curry will love it – and it’s all just a wee bit, well, different.
Especially the truly mouth-watering starters.
Chicken liver tikka, for example, is cooked slowly under a grill with lots of ginger, garlic and coriander. And, yep, it’s a million miles from that horrible liver your mum and dad used to force you to eat as a kid.
Or what about chicken nimbali? Tender, marinated, bite-sized bits of chicken topped with melting cheese. As one of my pals said: “It’s like eating a pizza without the inconvenience of the bread.”
There’s also a rather novel (and utterly yummy) duck tikka.
A taste sensation.
And the best duck in Glasgow, I reckon, this side of the crispy shredded stuff at the Ho Wong.
Or how about – wait for it – rabbit tikka! Boneless bunny marinated overnight, I thought it was lovely.
And before you ask, I didn’t get a hare in it.
Meanwhile, the cheese keema (mince) samosa with its light, flaky pastry is a bit like a superior Indian bridie, while the more traditional starters also shine at Akbar’s.
The seekh (sausage) kebab might just be the best in the city. All too often dry and leathery, it was moist, succulent and, like quite a lot of the creations at Akbar’s, VERY spicy.
Even the onion salad served with the kebab (usually a pointless distraction) deserves a mention.
Elsewhere, the chicken pakora was raised to a different level thanks to the accompanying Yorkshire rhubarb and chilli jam – nice and sweet at the start before three different types of chilli give your tastebuds a kicking.
You could easily stick to the starters at Akbar’s and do a serious bit of grazing (and that’s exactly what I did on one of my recent visits) but I think it’s almost impossible to resist the curries.
My personal favourite is the chicken tikka and keema balti – grilled chicken, pot roasted with minced lamb, ginger, garlic and selected herbs and spices.
It’s fantastic and the combination of chicken and mince works an absolute treat.
The simple lamb and potato balti is also worth trying. It’s like a spicy, Indian version of Irish stew.
However, don’t miss the dish a member of staff recommended on my most recent trip to Akbar’s – the chicken and spinach balti. Take a bow, sir. Honestly, folks, in 20 years of eating the stuff, this just might be the best curry I’ve ever tasted.
Sadly, the chefs still haven’t mastered the art of the thin, crispy, well-fired paratha (the one I ordered, while tasty, was a bit greasy and stodgy) so I suggest you stick to the naan bread.
They normally take up too much table space, of course, but the naans at Akbar’s are hooked up on a wee “hangman” contraption (a neat idea) that makes the whole thing look like a duvet on a washing line.
Incidentally, in keeping with the “something different” theme, the menu also boasts a fruit and nut naan.
However, before all my female readers rush at once, I should point out it’s not a big bar of Cadbury’s melted over bread.
Address: 573-581 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7PQ;
Telephone:0141 222 2258;
Open: Monday-Saturday 5pm-midnight and Sunday 2pm-11pm;
Wheelchair access: Yes; Bill for two (with wine): £65
Food: 5/5 - five visits says it all;
Service: 4/5 - fast, efficient and knowledgeable;
Decor: 5/5 - smart, colourful interior;
Toilets: 5/5 - spotless and sparkling;
Value: 4/5 - worth every penny