Rasa Samudra

Price guide: Mid-range

5 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RE

Price guide: Mid-range

Rasa's trademark pink exterior

By Jenni Muir, your London expert

I write for AA Travel Guides, Time Out. Read more
#8 of 115
expert-rated restaurants in London
Expert overall rating:4.9 out of 5
Food and drink:
4.5
4.5
Ambience:
3.8
3.8
Service:
3.8
3.8
Location:
4.5
4.5
Value for money:
4
4.0
Recommended for:
Backpackers / Students, Business travellers, Culture vultures, Foodies, Mature travellers, Relaxation

Expert review of Rasa Samudra

Add a little spice to your London visit with a meal at this charming south Indian restaurant.

Whenever my parents are visiting, we always make one or two trips to Rasa. This chain of pink-coloured restaurants specializes in the home-style cooking of south India, especially the region of Kerala, from where owner Das Sreedharan hails. Entering via Charlotte Street you'll find a charming though fairly normal restaurant; pop round the back to Rathbone Place at lunchtimes, however, and you'll see the dinky 'Rasa Express' takeaway - source of the best meal deal in London.

Food and drink: 

Rasa restaurants are best known for their vegetarian dishes but this branch (their largest) is also a seafood specialist and the peppery crab varuthathu, stir-fried with plenty of curry leaves and chilli, is a must-have. Most people start with the intriguingly shaped crispy snacks served with fresh homemade pickles, including some terrific fish and prawn pickles. However the hot cooked starters are worth trying sometime too, especially the medhu vadai (lentil dumplings), Mysore bonda (potato balls) and banana boli (bananas deep-fried in a batter of rice and chickpea flours and black sesame seeds). I always order bagar baingan (aubergines in cashew nut sauce), the beetroot and spinach, and moru kachiathu, a mildly-spiced yogurt sauce with mangoes and green bananas cooked in it.

Ambience: 

Downstairs is rather formal; I prefer to go upstairs to the blonde wood dining room overlooking the action on Charlotte Street.

Service: 

Friendly but sometimes a little shy and slow-off-the-mark.

Location: 

At the foot of one of London’s great dining-out streets, about 10-15 minutes from the British Museum.

Price advice: 

For first timers, the easiest and most cost-effective thing to do is order a vegetarian or seafood feast menu (£22.50 and £30 per head respectively).

Other useful branches: 

Rasa is burgeoning and now extends as far north as Newcastle and down to Brighton. In central London there’s a discreet branch on Dering Street, near the big department stores of Oxford Street, and another (surprisingly handy) tucked away in a branch of Holiday Inn Express at King’s Cross. There's a standalone branch of cheap-as-chapatis Rasa Express on the Euston Road. The business started in Stoke Newington – see website for details.

More information on Rasa Samudra:

Price guide:
Mid-range
Type:
Restaurant, Takeaway
Food:
Indian, Seafood, Vegetarian
Address:
5 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RE
Telephone:
020 7637 0222
Website:
http://www.rasarestaurants.com/UserPages/Viewrestaurantdetails.aspx?restid=36
Serves:
Lunch, Dinner
Opening times:
Mon-Wed noon-3pm, 6-10.30pm; Thur-Sat noon-3pm, 6-10.45pm; Sun 6-10.30pm.
Accepts Credit Cards:
Yes
Reservations:
Suggested
Free tags / Keywords:
Kerala, Keralan, Malabar, Hyderabadi

Have you been to Rasa Samudra? Would you recommended it?