Dartford curry house says 'family feel' is key to national success
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 December 2013
Opened more than 20 years ago, Polash Tandoori, in Princes Avenue, Dartford, has seen customers turn from parents into pensioners and from toddlers into teenagers.
After scooping a British Curry Award last month, boss Shafique Miah says it’s the personal touch offered by his restaurant that sets it apart from the rest.
His business was named best online takeaway service at the event in Battersea, on November 25, attended by public figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron and hosted by television presenter Chris Tarrant.
“It was a big surprise,” says Shafique. “We didn’t find out until that night. All we knew was that we’d been shortlisted and there were six others that could also win.
“I thought to myself, ‘Hang on a minute, is it really us?’”
The restaurant was founded by Shafique’s cousin, Abdul Bari, in 1991 and has built up a loyal clientele over the years.
Most faces coming through the door are familiar to Shafique, who says he knows about 90 per cent of them by name.
“One thing we do a lot is talk to our customers,” he explains. “Most of the people who come in are regulars, and some are even second generation.
“It’s weird to see them grow up and bring in their girlfriends or boyfriends, but it’s nice.”
With cousins at the helm and an extended family of curry lovers, the restaurant is made even more Dartford-centric by sourcing most of its ingredients locally.
Shafique is a regular visitor to local butchers’ shops and cash and carries, where he buys fresh ingredients – though, he admits to going slightly further afield for the more exotic spices.
The 40-year-old, from Limehouse, has been in charge for some seven years after previous careers in insurance and as an estate agent.
He says: “I have been in and around the place since it opened, but I had barely left school back then.
“My cousin is still here, but more in the background – he’s the head chef. He likes to make sure everything happens in the kitchen as it should.
“All chefs like to add their little personal touch to a dish, so he keeps an eye on that.”
The most popular item on the menu is chicken tikka masala – which until last year was the UK’s best-loved foreign dish, according to Food Network UK.
With that as a given, Shafique says his second most popular dish is the restaurant’s garlic chicken chilli masala, which he says “doesn’t burn your mouth, but has a powerful flavour”.
With Christmas approaching, Polash Tandoori can expect a deluge of office parties and festive get-togethers – but while Shafique is always keen to make his customers happy, he draws the line at a Christmas menu.
He adds: “We did think about it a few years ago, but it just wouldn’t work. No one wants to eat turkey curry.”
Polash Tandoori is open from 2pm to midnight, seven days a week. Visit thepolash.co.uk.