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Khan Ba Ba review

Lynda Moyo likes the flames but finds the food has little spark

Written by . Published on April 9th 2009.

Khan Ba Ba review

In their takeover of both corners of their patch on Liverpool Road, the ticking brains behind Salt and Pepper have come up with Khan Ba Ba.

Khan Ba Ba's culinary selection is on one theme: Indian cuisine, unlike its sister restaurant which has a varied, multi-continental menu. Some love Salt and Peppers versatility whilst others find their menu confusingly average. But to quote a friend: “If you throw enough shit at a wall, some will stick,” and thus the success of Salt and Pepper, whether you like it or not, has led to Khan Ba Ba's emergence.

The effort that has been put into this new venue is second to none. It's extremely clean and well laid out with a choice of bench-like raised tables around the periphery and ground level tables spanning around the open-plan, visible kitchen. There's a rustic, log cabin feel about the place and on a very cold and damp evening, with their flaming street lanterns at the door, it sets the scene impeccably for an authentic Indian dining experience.

The food unfortunately didn't live up to its setting, despite my high hopes. Rashmi kebab starter (£3.50) resembled an infected corn dog and didn't taste much better either. The combination of minced chicken and cheese with a greasy, eggy coating and no seasoning resulted in a rubbery, tasteless dish. The chicken pakora (£2.50) was along the same lines. “About as Indian as KFC popcorn chicken,” my partner said of the spicy cornflour chicken balls as he picked at the wimp of a side salad.

There's an almost unbalanced amount of chicken on the Khan Ba Ba menu, particularly when it comes to main courses. We managed to pick out the lamb gosht (£7.50) amongst the chicken theme and also chicken achari (£8.50). After tasting the driest, chewiest lamb pieces I've ever had, it soon became apparent why chicken features so heavily. Keen to discuss the baffling mix-up in tastes of the meat, the lamb unfortunately delayed table conversation. Chewing less than 60 times per mouthful was not an option.

The chicken, on the other hand, was far from tender but was at least an edible, mildly spicy and satisfying combination of yogurt, onion, garlic paste, ginger paste, and chilli. Despite this gem, the mains were let down once more by a naan bread (£2.99) which looked like it had come from the same freezer department as the chicken dippers. It was fairly small, inauthentic and tasted exactly how it looked: like a supermarket garlic bread. A major let down. The taste of the pilau rice (£2.50) managed to save the course; light, fluffy and fragrant, as it should be. Shame about the way it was dolloped in the middle of a huge plate. It looked lonely and uninspiring, despite tasting top notch.

Drinks-wise, the lassi drinks are by far the best choice you can make if you want something to cool down a spicy curry. The mango lassi (£3) was particularly more-ish and we ordered several despite the waiter bizarrely trying to sell us their non-alcoholic cocktails.

“Try the non-alcoholic pina colada.”

“Ummm, no we'll just have another mango lassi, please”

“Pina colada?”

“Mango lassi.”

Maybe the non-alcoholic cocktails are worth a try but given that the Indian lassi drinks are a pound less and so delicious, I wouldn't bother. I'm sure the waiter meant well as he had tended to our every need all evening, standing with a beaming smile despite our indecisiveness and reluctance for pina colada. Attentive to the end, and even described as “lovely” by my boyfriend, it's full marks to the service. Admittedly, I suggested we take him home in a doggy bag instead of the leftover food.

The problem with Khan Ba Ba for me is that it's posing as something it's blatantly a million miles from. Money has evidentially gone into the chic décor and the flawless entrance with its grand flames, but the menu lacks such charm and spark with the presentation, taste and texture of the food in need of serious work. Hopefully, given time Khan Ba Ba will find its feet. On this occasion, unfortunately, I entered expecting another Akhbar's and left feeling like I'd eaten Abduls.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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21 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Rita & Howard SmithApril 9th 2009.

Linda Moyo maybe you shouldn't mention other restaurants when you are reviewing, stick to talking about the one in question. Our experience of Khan Ba Ba was absolutely fabulous food, staff & ambience.

DescartesApril 9th 2009.

Another new curry restaurant, crikey I'm in heaven!

AnonymousApril 9th 2009.

We live locally and love this restaurant, we have never had a bad meal here! The service is always friendly and the food just what we wanted!

DescartesApril 9th 2009.

"she" andy, she ;) I love my curries but I've not eaten here yet, shall give it a look see soon.

VanceApril 9th 2009.

I got a take-away from this gaff.It's right next to Akbar's and Salt & Pepper (which I really like).It's cheaper than Akbar's but:*Curry was no longer hot when I got it home - I live 200 yards away, if that.*Poppadoms weren't that fresh.*Naan was in a normal paper bag, rather than a foil bag, meaning it too went cold quickly.*For a new place with such competition, you would think the staff could at least look reasonably pleased to see you.Were it the only one nearby, I'd give it another try for a sit down. But it's not.

AndyApril 9th 2009.

what a crock of you know what. the reviewer is clearly friends with the owner of akbars. Podima Chicken and the lamb dishes are far better than any other meals on offer in town. Khan ba ba, eastzeast, akbars in that order. The reviewer deserves to eat at abduls because he clearly doesn't know the difference between good and bad. dildo.

Salford RedApril 9th 2009.

Myself and 3 friends walked into this place at 10:30 last night. We were greeted by an incredibly rude and unfriendly member of staff who simply grunted “No we’re closed” he then repeated the word closed in case we did not understand it when he said the first time round 2 seconds earlier. I suspect the staff here may need to attend a customer service course and they may also need to invest in an open/closed sign on the front door. I will never know what the food tastes like in this place because I have no intention of ever spending my money in there. Good manners cost nothing!

Linda MoyoApril 9th 2009.

Can I just say: I wasn't involved in the writing of this article, and my opinions are not necessarily the same as this website's. toodle-pip

Warren JacksonApril 9th 2009.

Last week my experience there was totally excellent and opposite to the reviewer. Had the most amazing Chicken Liver starter. Rarely even like liver normally. Amazing Fillet steak starter. Fantastic chicken Biriani. Delicious Lamb curry with real tender lamb (not mutton). Typically Lahore style if you know it. Deep bespoke flavors, freshly cooked from scratch. Not the generic pre-prepared masala slop we are all used to. Lovely fresh Garlic Nan with plenty garlic. 2 good draugh Cobra beers. Lovely Kulfi and semolina desert. Watched the Tawa Taka food cooked full view of open plan kitchen whilst having a giggle with top Indian chefs. Had to be said it was better quality food than Akbars next door (our previous benchmark). Ps. Perhaps the reviewer got unlucky with the starters or maybe it was teething trouble on a bad day. I would love to know where the reviewer normally eats Indian food just to make comparison. My only advise to anyone with a palate is to try Khan Ba Ba and see for yourself.I cant wait to try it again!!!

ToppoApril 9th 2009.

I totally agree with Ben.We dined there last week had a fantastic meal and we will be going again very soon.

mooApril 9th 2009.

Your missing the point though Martin. If you want Abduls then you go to Abduls and get what you pay for. You would expect higher quality from this place surely. Abduls is great FAST FOOD.

Who is Linda Moyo?April 9th 2009.

If you're going to rant directly at the writer, at least spell her name right. Tsk.

MartinApril 9th 2009.

Don't be hard on Abdul's... they do a good chicken kebab without any pretense.

simon bApril 9th 2009.

The chicken kebab (everything on) at Abduls in Fallowfield was so good it very nearly led to me buying a house nearby.

BenApril 9th 2009.

I completely disagree, we went here a couple of weeks ago and the food was incredible. I had a lamb dish which came on the bone and was probably one of the best Indian dishes I've ever had! Fairly subjective nonsense even for a review - hand up who cares about the pina colada waiter??? Complete filler

AnonymousApril 18th 2010.

My wife and I ate here on Saturday night after being told at Akbar's we'd have to wait 45 minutes for a table. I'm really glad we did, as the food at Khan Ba Ba was excellent, probably better than Akbar's. We'll definitely be going back soon.

knowallOctober 12th 2011.

Yea,I have to admit Khan ba ba is probably getting a rough deal,its neighbours seem to be taking all the headlines,even though its actually pretty average (Akbars)
We quite enjoyed our experience in Khans and we would recommend it,but dont you think that Manchester is looking for a new Indian food experience ,I am surprised no Asian entrepreneur has give it a go.
And please, I dont mean a pretentious expensive posers parlour.

AnonymousNovember 14th 2011.

Ive only been to khan ba bas once...the decor is nice, but the tables were so close together that I coudnt get out, the lady sitting on the table next our had to get up to let me out... I find the waiters there are quite cunning me and my friend orderd two straters at £3.50 each and the waiter said ' Oh I recommend you to try our specials...this one' the bloddy starter was £7.00 it was just a selection of kebabs...so we ordered one and shared it... it tasted nothing special at all!! but recommending the dearest menu I think is bang out of order...and the thing is he did exactly the same with the couple sitting on the table next to us... wonder how long hes gona keep using this tak tik for to increase sales??

AnonFebruary 3rd 2015.

Beware of very dodgy attendant We dined here tonight. Looking for a special night out but the attendant made sure to ruin it. Everything about his behaviour said that he was working on commission. Instances through out our dining experiences listed below. - Specifically asked for tap water, he even repeated the order after us to confirm. Mineral water arrived. - Offered us pappadum as we sat down but failed to mentioned that they were charged for. - Also failed to mention that the dips accompanying the pappadum were charged for separately - Requested for one rice dish. Assumed that we wanted two and decided to get us 2. - Asked for one plain rice but received pilau rice instead. - Still charged us for the pilau rice rather than amending the bill - Insisted that we pay in cash. - As we did not have enough cash in hand we asked to pay by card. This agitated him but he let us do so. - Inspite of asking him to amend the correct rice dish on the bill we were still short changed. You can always forgive a mistake or 2 and even tho 20p we were over charged. But is the principle of things. He tried every way he possibly could to overcharge us. We really wanted to like this place but we're definitely not going back. ...& the food wasn't that good either.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2015.

Absolutely agree with this review. Although when we went it was filthy and the toilet (emphasis on the the singular) almost made us want to leave. Staff were exceptionally rude! Especially the 'manager'. Drinks were pricey and so too was the food. The chicken tikka masala resembled frozen chicken in a can of Heinz tomato soup and half a bottle of oil. It was inedible. And I eat anything so that's saying something. We complained about the tikka masala, korma and balti because of the chewy and luke warm chicken pieces and the oil and saltiness of the sauce. We were told that we were complaining about nothing and that we were wrong! What ever happened to the customer is always right! We had an argument with the 'manager' at the table in front of the whole restaurant. Do not go! there are plenty of other Indian restaurants in the area which serve edible food, have waiters that actually come to your table and don't charge the earth. Most disgusting food I have ever eaten!! Even with three mains off the bill we still ended up paying £50 for some naan bread (didn't look fresh) , popadoms (weren't fresh, chewy) and rice (approx three spoon fulls) . An absolute joke

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