Neasden’s spectacular Swaminarayan Temple (open until 6.30pm) is reason enough to visit London’s north-western territories, but across the road from this important centre of Hindu worship there’s a more temporal attraction. Run on behalf of the temple by a well-established catering firm (which also owns sweet shops in Harrow and Wembley), Shayona inhabits a structure that resembles a warehouse cash-and-carry outlet in the temple’s car park. Head inside and you’re not initially disabused of the notion: straight ahead is a large shop full of vegetarian foodstuffs; to the right is a takeaway Indian sweets counter. Facing the confectionery, however, is the entrance to a restaurant that’s more upmarket than its exterior suggests – and notably smarter than the average temple canteen you’d find in India.
The brown and cream colour scheme of the large main dining room (to the rear is a lounge) is offset by vibrant wall paintings, a healthy sprouting of artificial foliage and graceful chandeliers. Friends, families and couples – both young and old – from the local Hindu community fill the tables, even midweek. The draw is a menu that, while vegetarian and sattvic (a diet based on ‘pure’ food that excludes pungent-smelling ingredients – so, no onions or garlic) includes dishes from across the subcontinent, as well as Asian-African hybrids (sweetcorn, cassava chips). Hence, Gujarati appetisers such as kachoris (fried balls of dough with spicy fillings) share space with Mumbai beach snacks (bhel pooris, a bit like rice crispy snacks) and Punjabi samosas on the starter list.
Sample a selection with the good-value Shayona platter – we relished the crisp samosa, the uncommonly light bateta wada (a ball of spiced mashed potato in deep-fried batter) and the spongy methi gota (fenugreek dumpling) – served with four chutneys. To follow, there’s a choice of South Indian ‘light meals’, including dosas and idlis (ours tended towards the indelicate) and a list of curries that again roams through India.
Luxuriously buttery dahl makhani needed the foil of cumin rice; rich too were the Shayona shahi paneer (the dense cheese in a creamy, saffron sauce) and the delectable stuffed aubergine (made somewhat mundane by its tikka masala-esque sauce). The term ‘Shahi’ means ‘royal’, a reference to the Indo-Persian court, so it’s hardly suprising these dishes were all very rich.
There’s no alcohol – drink fresh juices or lassi (we can vouch for the refreshing vaghareli chaas, a salted spiced-up buttermilk – ‘vaghar’ means seasoned with spices, ‘chaas’ is the buttermilk drink). In all an uplifting, if not a religious, experience.
54-62 Meadow Garth
|Opening hours:||Meals served 11.30am-10pm Mon-Fri; 11am-9.30pm Sat, Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Neasden or Harlesden tube|
|Price:||Main courses £4.95-£6.25. Set lunch £6.99 buffet. Set meal £13.50 4 courses, £16.50 6 courses. Unlicensed no alcohol allowed|
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Be ready to enjoy amazing food. I will always be going back to 'SHAYONA'. Definitely worth the drive if you're visiting London. Locals need to try this food and dining experience! Trust me, you will return! First of all...this restaurant provided me with just about the best meal I have ever had! Second, the service was fantastic, very welcoming. I went on Wednesday, and as soon as I left, I was already planning my next trip back...
Really nice service, atmosphere and healthy food. I really enjoy their when I went first time than I took my whole family and friends their, they all enjoy very well. If you are looking for India test you must visit Shayona restaurant, In front of Largest Hindu temple out side India. Pure veg I love that food.
Really enjoyed our meal at Shayona in Neasden. Very trendy, well decorated. Excellent and friendly staff in excellent surroundings. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone. Highlight of the meal, we ate the Malai Kofta curry with Chilli Nan. Perfect amount of spice - not too little and not too much for my pallet. Up there with some of the best Vegetarian Indian restaurants in London.
My wife an I had the most wonderful experience at Shayona the other day. It was so good to see that the staff were so accommodating especially as my wife has medical related dietary requirements. The atmosphere, food and service were A1! I'd most definitely recommend it to work colleagues, family and friends!