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Hazel Davis awards big scores to Bradford's finest

Published on October 1st 2008.


Showing all the cultural awareness of an Outer Mongolian hammering on Morrisons on Christmas Day demanding a tin of spam, I pitched up to Mumtaz (or 'The World Famous Mumtaz' as it hails itself) in the middle of Ramadan at sunset.

So it should have been no surprise that the place was absolutely heaving with most of the local Muslim community getting their Iftihar on. Luckily, the Bradford behemoth hasn’t got where it is today by not being prepared, and we were hastily sent upstairs for a free starter while all hands were on deck.

And what a shiny deck it is. With granite on every available surface not made of glass, the place positively dazzles. Far from being an authentic Asian dining experience, Mumtaz is authentically late twentieth century, more redolent of aspirational Far East architecture than anything else. Young enough to dictate its own heritage, you’ll find no flock wallpaper here.

On the night we went, the restaurant was a real mix of people, from young couples and families to animated groups of friends. Despite the throng, our waiter shimmied over and took our order, which we chose from a heady list of delicious-sounding dishes. Delicious sounding and deliciously described. Before the food had arrived, it was clear that some serious marketing has gone on here. The Mumtaz logo is on everything, so you are never in any doubt as to where you are. And the menu describes itself in glowing terms. Velvety flavours and marriages made in heaven; how could we not enjoy it?

Our free starters were a nice mix of lamb kebab, chicken wings and chick-pea stew. For my main course, though, I chose the large chicken keraki dopiaza (£13), with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cumin seed, red dry bullon chillies and coriander leaves. I ordered mild to be on the safe side and it was very mild indeed, though seriously delicious. My chicken was tender and the dopiaza was tasty enough. I paired it with a small portion of pilau rice (£2.25). My companion had a regular-sized kerahi lamb sookha bouhna (£7.85) with lamb on the (segmented) bone, featuring tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger and spices. He declared the sauce nice and rich, not overpowering but a bit “gravyish”.

We shared a garlic naan (£1.95) and it was thin and flavoursome, well designed for scooping up food, unlike the rolled-up pillows you often get, and we both had lassis (mine a strawberry and his a mango at £3.95).

The dessert menu was a refreshing collection of real puddings and not frozen ready dishes. I tried and tried not to have my favourite ras malai (£2.75) but I couldn’t resist. It was worth it though, a really moist dish of milky dumplings with pistachio. My partner had rassogula (milky balls) (£2.50), nice and textured and creamy.

The waiting staff were unfailingly attentive and polite and we only had to so much as look up from the table to get instant service. There also appeared to be a young boy whose sole job it was to offer people extra water. Possibly the most boring job in the world but also the easiest and with least chance of complaint. There was some excitement as a deeply embarrassed boyfriend on the table behind us received a birthday cake complete with sparkler. He could barely cope with the humiliation but his girlfriend was delighted as the waiter half-sung the first verse of Happy Birthday then realised no-one else was joining in and skulked off.

My – as advertised – creamy and velvety latte (£2.25) was a nice way to round everything off and as we looked around we realised that the rush had passed and there were just a few handfuls of people having coffee and chilling out. We stayed awhile, talking and taking in the peace and quiet but didn’t feel like we were in the way. We left, via the shiny foodhall, very happy customers.

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

eugeneOctober 1st 2008.

Milky Balls eh? ooh, I will be going!

neelamOctober 1st 2008.

Hi hazel, we travel 50 miles once a month to come to mumtaz. food is out of this world, next time try the lamb chops. sometimes we order the food to take back with us.such a nice place for someone himself is a dedicated person.

bradfordianOctober 1st 2008.

hello hazel I think you should speak to the locals, they think the food is mediocre at best, ambiance well there are several resturants that outshine mumtaz for instance markez, safron, chowdreys .... from a bradfordian who cares

DavidOctober 1st 2008.

Well Hazel must have gone to a completely different Mumtaz to me. All show, bling and glitz - I have never eaten such boring and uninspired asian food served up by curt and uninterested staff. I suspect it's the place to be seen or the place to bring the girl from that nice family you're trying to impress. Sure the descriptions on the menu sound great, but when it arrives it's bland and samey. When the bill arrives, it's far higher than any of its superior competitors - you're paying for the sparkly tiles.Save money on petrol and just make sure you book a table at EastzEast.

lobster69October 1st 2008.

Hazel, I agree the Mumtaz is tops. Try the fried fish if you go again, very good as a starter. Not sure what they use maybe cod or coley. You can see the fillets marinating in spices in the glass cases when you go in. It's served dry and crispy but still succulent on the inside.

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