It is difficult to review this place. This is not a ‘could do better’ because I don’t think this place wants to be any different. It’s in a little niche, like all the other eateries at North Wharf; – they are here to feed tourists who are okay with the pricey food, young and friendly but slightly inattentive staff, trendy but sparse décor. Wynyard Quarter is the main attraction with the wharf atmosphere, little and big children’s playspace and Silo Park. Fortunately, there is plenty to occupy you after a meal.
One big advantage is that Urban Turban is great for families, – no one blinked when rice and a prawn scattered onto the floor because Miss 4-and-a-half decided to jump up from her seat.
Urban Turban’s tagline is Bombay Street Food. I haven’t set foot in India, but I understand that the only thing on the limited menu which can claim that merit is the bhel, which surprisingly wasn’t offered when I asked for a recommendation. The server did however, recommended the Gunpowder prawns (6 for $16). This came with raita to counter the spicy chilli. Garlic prawns (6 for $10) was cooked with chunks of the aromatic allium.
Curries are served with naan or roti and a serving of coleslaw with a mustard-y dressing. The food is served on individual plates, rather than in thali bowls to share, evoke the feel of a posh food canteen. The rice was overcooked, making it somewhat dry and crumbly. The butter chicken ($22) with its unusually thin gravy, is sweet and tasty. This being the dish of the day, is bottomless, and you will be offered a free refill should you polish this off.
My favourite was the lamb Marsala ($24) with its rich, spicy gravy and fork-tender lamb.
The coastal fish curry ($24) had half a dozen small fish pieces, and tasted predominantly of coconut cream.
Himalayan chicken ($24) had the most heat.
The palak paneer ($16) was surprisingly bland.
To finish off, the kids enjoyed glasses of mango lassi ($8) and the choco samosa ($12) – milk chocolate wrapped in steaming hot samosa served with scoop of ice cream and caramel drizzle. We really wanted to try the pan (betel) ice-cream, but were told that the ingredients were late arriving from India, so no ice-cream was available.
Perhaps I’m being uncharitable. Urban Turban does not profess to be a vanguard of Indian cuisine. As long as you take it for what it is, Urban Turban should satisfy the average patron. I didn’t see any Indian customers, so if you have a hankering for exemplary Bombay cuisine, I suggest you ask your Indian friends for recommendations.
North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter
39 Jellicoe Street, Auckland
09 309 9990