The flagship of Das Sreedharan’s restaurant mini-chain (which began with a vegetarian eaterie in Stoke Newington), Rasa W1 is signposted by its cochineal-pink frontage. Aficionados of homespun South Indian cooking hold the place in high regard for its moderately priced Keralan fish and seafood dishes. The kitchen makes no allowance for temperate western palates.
First up, we relished the crunchy spiced nibbles and a selection of pickles – all own-made – including chilli-flecked green mango chunks and vinegary garlic cloves. A generously portioned kappayum meenum (chunky kingfish fillet curry, simmered in silken coconut-milk masala) was tastefully sharpened with smoky kokum (similar to tamarind) and spiced with curry leaves and whole dried chillies. It made a tasty match with steamed cassava speckled with tiny mustard seeds and crunchy lentils.
The dosa is another winner: the thin lentil and rice pancake loosely wrapped around mustardy potatoes and served with delicious sambar (vegetable and lentils made tart with tamarind). Less impressive, a Keralan spin on a sausage roll was underwhelming; soggy pastry encased a starchy potato filling that had a shortfall of meaty goodness. Stick to the vegetarian, fish and seafood options. Service is well meaning, if slightly slow off the mark.