MyLahore might occupy a place in Manchester’s infamous Curry Mile, but it aims to stand out from the crowd. “British Asian Kitchen” it announces in big neon lights. Its website greets you thus:
Welcome to MyLahore where we love to WOW and serve superlicious food in a welcomtastic place for all! We’re proud to be the most loved British Asian Kitchen Experience…x
Flowery language notwithstanding, it’s the kiss that speaks volumes, but then there is something very kitsch and razzamatazz about the whole enterprise that appeals to a certain kind of punter. Quite a lot of them too, for MyLahore was packed solid at half six in the evening, of which we were almost the only white faces. It took a short while to get a table, though not so long we were tempted to wander along the road to one of the many other fine eating establishments in Rusholme.
MyLahore’s quirky ambience, complete with assorted garish seat coverings in the many booths, various light fittings, 70s wallpaper and faded movie posters forming a mural along one wall, was warm and buzzing, but not so loud that I struggled to hear my companion.
The menu on the other hand is designed to be British comfort food:
If variety is the spice of life…we’re pretty hot! At MyLahore you’ll enjoy traditional tastes with a modern twist (and a personal touch) as we get creative with the finest, freshest ingredients. Tuck in to our 100% halal choices
Sure enough, there are sections for everything. Street snacks jostle for position with paninis and wraps; flame grills vie with burgers; curries feature alongside pastas, salads and stir fries. This is nobody’s idea of a purist authentic restaurant, but is evidently where word on the street says the British tastebuds are heading – and MyLahore use the Internet wisely to make their products as widely available as possible (the seating in the takeaway area was full to overflowing.)
For drinks, I chose a mango lassi, but she made do with water. Credit then to the staff for bringing a bottle of filtered water gratis and without being asked. Credit where it is due, for all the level of business generated service is amazingly attentive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic at ML, to the extent that no fewer than four different waiters asked us if everything is alright during our meal.
That might have been obsequious overkill in some places, but somehow here it was done with sincerity – the waiters care about their customers and want us to be delighted. It also begs a question: if they can pull off the feat of efficiency and attentiveness at an ML groaning at the seams, why is it service at many a restaurant is so awful, even when they are virtually empty? I’ll leave you to ponder that while I go through the food. It might sound mix-and-match pub grub but the preponderance of diners from assorted Asian backgrounds tells you otherwise.
Quality and keen prices are probably the main rationale, but given ginormous – almost American – portions, there may also be a VFM component here. In other words, people have a tendency to think that unless there is more food than you can possibly eat, you have not gained value for your hard-earned dosh. The fallacy in that argument is self-evident, but the fact that my companion was given the leftover parts of her dinner (roughly 50%) in takeaway pots and in a colourful MyLahore bag, you couldn’t argue. It did mean we had no room for desserts, which also feature strongly in the menu.
I chose to go the Indian route, including prawn pathia, rice, potato paratha (flaky pan-fried bread stuffed with spiced mashed potato.) The pathia was undeniably excellent, an earthy sweet-sour-hot spicing working well with the meaty texture of king prawns, though their delicate flavour probably got lost along the way; her chicken stir-fry hit the spot too. The food is as good as the grub anywhere along the road, but the service is what makes people return to ML time and again – well, that and the fact that it caters for tastes we’ll beyond the hot and spicy.
Less than £30 all in, which for a night on the town is pretty darned good going. This was never going to be a Michelin-starred evening, but MyLahore does what it does with slick precision and a keen eye on customer satisfaction. That is arguably the difference between success and failure, especially when you’re situated bang on the most famous street of curry restaurants in the UK. The fact that MyLahore is apparently thriving in all the Asian hotspots around England tells me their recipe for success is working well. We Brits, we do love our version of Asian cuisine!