THERE are more than 10,000 Indian restaurants and takeaways in the UK, a large piece of writing on the wall of Shabash interestingly informs its customers.

Which means that there are swathes of restaurants out there vying for people to part with their cash.

And, after living in renowned curry hotspot Leicester for a year, I’ve sadly found that the south of Essex can’t compete.

But Shabash, which has been revamped and renamed recently, stepped up to the plate as a contender.

Because I’m incapable of getting anywhere on time, we rocked up about 20 minutes late but the waiter didn’t bat an eyelid – a good start – as we were shown to a candlelit, albeit slightly chilly table, next to the window.

The restaurant itself looks nice, decked in traditional if unremarkable Indian decor.

But alas, you don’t go to a restaurant to stare at the walls, and apart fromamild faux-pas when the waiter confused my request for a Coke for a pint of Cobra, there was little to fault with the food.

We were served poppadoms straight away, with three different sauces and onions, including an exceptional batch of mango chutney.

To start with, I ordered a quarter tandoori chicken, which was immaculately presented, grilled to perfection, and supplemented by fried onions and spicy sauce.

The mild tanginess of the chicken, a surprisingly generous portion, immediately made me feel a lot more warmer than I had been feeling, and my girlfriend enjoyed three tasty and well cooked onion bhajis.

For the main course, I had opted for a chicken tikka karahi. It came out sizzling – the type of noise that makes everyone look round at what you’ve got, rather embarrassingly – and the taste backed up the noise.

With a not-too-overbearing taste of garlic, the peppers, meat, onions, and tomatoes perfectly complemented each other, coated in a zesty sauce.

My girlfriend went for a chicken dhansak, which had a milder, sweeter, taste – perfect for dipping in naan bread and providing a good alternative to the fire of my dish.

We ordered some finely cooked pilau rice – served with caramelised onions on top – saag aloo, and a garlic naan.

It was at this point, I realised we had massively overindulged. Despite my curry being a triumph, I was close to defeat only halfway through.

Not being a dessert man, and being overwhelmingly full, I only ordered one for the purposes of this review.

So going for the lightest thing possible, I plumped for the coconut supreme, which against all odds, backed up its hyperbolic name, and was memorable end to the meal.

It was sweet-tasting coconut ice cream, served in a literal coconut, flanked by two scoops of delicious vanilla ice cream, with sporadic helpings of strawberry and blueberry sauces.

In total, we ordered 17 different items, and for a final bill of £53 that isn’t half bad.

My Irish girlfriend said it’s the best she’s tasted outside her homeland.

Indeed, Shabash is by far and away the best Indian cuisine in Southend and Leigh.


4 x poppadoms £3

2 x chutney tray £1.50

Quarter tandoori chicken £4.95

Onion bhajee £3.55

Chicken dhansak £7.95

Chicken tikka karahi £8.95

Saag aloo £3.95

Garlic naan £2.95

2 x pilau rice £4.90

Coconut supreme £5.95