Krahi King Review – Birmingham

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This week I’ve reverted back to life as a bachelor while the wife and kids have packed their bags and I do mean BAGS for a week at the in-laws. A bachelor week wouldn’t be complete without a night out with the guys so a group of the great and the good joined me for a bite to eat.

Our original plan to visit Desi Khana Grill on the Ladypool Road fell through as we arrived to the sight of shutters down which is never a good sign for a Balti restuarant and sets your mind wondering on why the shutters are down!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as our band of the great and the good were agreeing to disagree on whether or not to eat there in the first place. An executive decision had to be made so we opted for Krahi King on the Coventry Road.

Krahi King is located at the Morrisons end of Coventry Road and comes with standard bright neon lettering letting you know in no uncertain terms what the name of the establishment is. For anyone of a nervous disposition be prepared for a shock when you walk into Krahi King this is one place which definitely does not pride itself on its décor. The walls need a good lick of paint, there are holes in the wall and I’ll stop right there!

The restaurant is split over two floors with a family dining area located upstairs. The downstairs seating area entrance is dominated by the counter, grills and tandoor where all the starters, rotis and kebabs are prepared. The dining area is long and narrow and this does cause problems for large dining parties. We arrived shortly after 7pm and had to rearrange the furniture to seat 7 people at one table.

Once we sat down we experienced air conditioning Small Heath style, an open window at the front of the restuarant sent a draft right up us faster than Corporal Jones could stick his bayonet up a German soldier!

For entertainment the restuarant has a flat screen television which pumps out the latest Urdu naats from the endless parade of 3rd rate television channels that dominate the Sky listings when you hit the 800s!

Food I hear you cry 🙂

Having survived the décor, recovered from Corporal Jones’s icy blast and blocking out the entertainment we were ready to order starters.

Our dining experience began with a waiter who refused to write anything down, he will now be known as the memory waiter who calmly reassured us he did not need a pen and paper despite our pleas that he should get a pen and paper.

For starters we ordered a large mixed grill, sheesh kebabs, chicken pakoras, lamb chop sizzlers, masala fish and fries. Our starters took a while to arrive but we were provided with mint sauce on saucers and an ample supply of salad to occupy our gaze and stomachs. Not wishing to be picky but I don’t want my mint sauce arriving on saucers, stick it in a proper serving dish or in a squeezy bottle but please don’t put it in a tea cup saucer!

After a slight wait our starters finally arrived and our memory waiter had not let us down he delivered everything that was ordered. The sheesh kebabs were the undoubted standout option from the starter menu. Having sampled the best and worst of sheesh kebabs and koftas all over Birmingham I think you would have to go a long long way to find better sheesh kebabs than King Krahi. The portions are generous, there is a spicy kick to the sheesh kebabs and they are not burnt to a crisp or completely undercooked as can be the case in certain kebab houses across the city.

The masala fish was not far behind, the fish was cooked to perfection and had the right mix of masala so as to not drown the taste of the fish. The mixed grill also lived up to expectations with a mix of sheesh kebabs, lamb chops, chicken tikka and lamb tikka. The chicken pakora was standard fare and the only really disappointing starter was the lamb sizzler which failed to keep up with the high standards of the other starters.

Before I review the mains its worth noting that Krahi King was extremely busy when we arrived which caught us slightly by surprise for a Wednesday evening. The majority of diners were of Pakistani origin. The restuarant has a real desi feel to it and seeing so many Pakistani diners including elders is always a good sign when it comes to judging the quality of food. The locals are the most demanding when it comes to baltis and tend to eat where the food is most authentic.

For our mains we ordered the chicken saag, chicken, lamb and keema baltis with traditional rotis. If the starters had set a high standard then the mains raised the bar even further. All four balti dishes hit the spot. The lamb and the chicken were cooked to perfection with both meats literally melting on the tongue. The chicken saag was as good as any home cooked meal I’ve experienced.

Keema baltis can be a hit and miss affair but it was a winner at Krahi King and narrowly pipped the other three baltis to the post to the crown of best main dish on the night. The rotis continued to come fresh off the tandoor and made for a relaxed and pleasant dining experience.

The beauty of the balti and karahi dishes in particular can be put down to the fact they are freshly prepared and you can taste the different flavours unlike rival restaurants which often have their balti and karahi dishes preprepared.

Service on the night was erratic but in all honesty in an establishment like Krahi King the erratic nature of the service adds to its charms. If you choose to dine at Krahi King you are coming here for the food and the food is as good if not better than any restuarant I have reviewed in the short history of this blog.

If you want suited and uniformed waiters, posh cutlery, plates of food that resemble works of art and a price to match then you’re better off looking elsewhere and settling for superior surroundings and most probably inferior food.

I’d urge any reader to look beyond the tatty walls, brave the open windows and put up with the latest naats and temperamental service to experience some of the best and most authentic Kashmiri / Pakistani food in the city.

No trip to Krahi King is complete without a cup of desi chai to wash down your meal. True to form the chai comes in cups that have seen better days, with spill marks adourning the cup but credit where its due the tea is excellent!

The consensus around the table was extremely positive, one of our diners admitted when he first walked in he wasn’t expecting a classic but he was positively surprised by the quality of food he experienced. Price wise the restaurant is an absolute bargain, the karahi dishes are delicious and significantly cheaper than similar options in the Balti belt. A group of seven can eat like kings and queens for well under a tenner per head. We had minor quibbles over the availability and serving of the various condiments, some of the starters didn’t match the fish and kebabs but all in all it was a wonderful experience.

A word of caution to anyone thinking of going to Krahi King for a romantic meal DON’T. Krahi King will do your love life no favours but if you want a good night out with the boys or want to treat the family to good desi food Krahi King ticks all the boxes.

Quality of Food 9

Quality of Service 7

Quality of Space 4

Value for Money 10

Overall rating 8.5 ( yes the maths doesn’t add up but I’m negating the impact of the décor on the score as I’ve left you under no illusions of what to expect and the food has been the best to date