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Restaurant review: You don’t have to be a celebrity to enjoy red-carpet treatment at Shahbaaz Tandoori in Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Shahbaaz Tandoori offers a huge variety of dishes. Pictures by Chris Sumner.
Aberdeen's Shahbaaz Tandoori offers a huge variety of dishes. Pictures by Chris Sumner.

Unless you are an A-list royal or maybe even Lady Ga Ga, I don’t think you stand much chance of persuading a restaurant to cook something which isn’t on its menu.

But I found myself achieving this by accident the other day.

I was talking to the new owners of one of Aberdeen’s most venerable culinary institutions – Shahbaaz.

The popular curry house in Rose Street has attracted an appreciative following for more than 30 years.

Now it’s in the hands of the Miah brothers, who took over in July.

Previously, the Miah family ran an altogether different curry service – a diner called Riksha offering funky street food like naan bread sandwiches, as well as traditional dishes.

This experiment in giving curries a modern makeover stretched into a three-year run at Union Square shopping mall in Aberdeen.

Riksha is the key to the conversation I started telling you about.

Shahbaaz Tandoori has been a Rose Street favourite for more than 30 years.

When I heard Riksha was closing I thought my world was caving in.

The reason was that I had become addicted to one of the Miah boys’ specialities.

It is a wondrous dish called Lamb Tuk Tuk.

Anyway, when news reached me that they had acquired Shahbaaz I just had to call them to book a table at their new place.

I found myself chatting with Jab Miah, but my heart sank a little when he explained that the Shahbaaz was not blending in a Riksha flavour just yet.

It was going to be a sensitive softly-softly approach before bedding in some of their ideas.

I mentioned in passing my love for Lamb Tuk Tuk and that I hoped it would soon make an appearance.

Quick as a flash, he said: “Don’t worry, I’ll ask my brother Khalis in the kitchen to make it specially for you.

“He will be honoured and proud to do that for someone like you who appreciates his food so much.”

Chef Khalis Miah was more than happy to prepare a Riksha favourite.

There was just one proviso: they needed a little time to plan it into their schedule, so I booked dinner two days ahead.

This was not surprising as the dish takes three hours to prepare.

I couldn’t believe my luck.

The venue

As we arrived at the appointed time we noticed that something else had been transported to Shahbaaz along with the Miah boys.

It was a colourful real-life rickshaw which used to sit outside Riksha, but now occupies a pride of place inside Shahbaaz.

I recalled that the ubiquitous taxi-cycle had been shipped from the streets of Bangladesh to Aberdeen.

The eye-catching rickshaw that sits inside Shahbaaz Tandoori.

Something else was familiar: the welcoming face of Hari the waiter, who often looked after us at Riksha and had also made the switch from Union Square.

But before Shahbaaz regulars start getting nervous that it’s all changing too fast, I can assure them that everything was just as I left it the last time I was here, and that was a few years back.

It’s a welcoming and relaxing place, as we found after being guided to a comfortable alcove to the rear of Shahbaaz; there was a large elegant mirror on the wall in our little booth.

The interior of the restaurant contains some interesting decorations.

The food

The Shahbaaz menu was still perfectly intact despite the recent takeover, so no shocks there; in fact, I understand it hasn’t changed for 10 years.

We were spoiled for choice with so much on offer.

The trouble is that when my wife and I are faced with so many choices we invariably wish later that we had stuck with our first choice and not our second.

I ordered Bombay aloo from the chef’s special starters.

“Why are you ordering a dish of potatoes?” asked my wife.

The colourful Bombay aloo from the chef’s special starters.

Well, I like this sort of thing, but I did make a basic error of misreading the menu and thought I was ordering saag aloo, which is a delicious mixture of spinach and potato.

I got just the potato in a spicy sauce, but it was pleasant enough even though not exactly what I wanted – through my own fault.

I watched my wife tucking into her delicious lamb chops starter with a spicy twist; a great choice, she told me.

The lamb chops starter.

Now was the time for a fanfare of trumpets as my Lamb Tuk Tuk arrived.

It was there in all its glory: a beautifully-shaped mound of tender melt-in-the-mouth lamb julienne strips – slow-cooked in onions, peppers and spices.

It was everything I expected and more.

If rich lamb cooked in its rich juices is your thing, then this is for you.

The delicious Lamb Tuk Tuk that was a staple at Riksha.

We shared fluffy coconut rice and thin crispy slices of garlic naan bread.

But the tables had turned for my wife: she had a brightly-coloured butter chicken curry, but was kicking herself that she had not gone for her first choice – the full works of tandoori mixed grill, with curry sauce on the side.

Khalis the chef emerged from his kitchen to check everything was okay with my Lamb Tuk Tuk, which of course it was.

The brightly-coloured butter chicken curry.

The verdict

It was a lovely friendly atmosphere, made more so by soothing background music tracks from award-winning Nitin Sawhney; it was kind of chilled Ibiza, Asian style.

They will cook former Riksha dishes on request at Shahbaaz for other people, too, but remember – they need some warning.

They are aiming for the best of both worlds: making sure the most popular Shahbaaz choices remain on offer, while gradually phasing in Riksha-style dishes to complement them.

And why not? They say variety is the spice of life.


Address: Shahbaaz Tandoori, 19 Rose Street, Aberdeen AB10 1TX

T: 01224 641786

Price: £59 for two courses for two plus poppadoms, coconut rice, naan bread and drinks


  • Food: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5

David Knight has been reviewing restaurants for The Press and Journal for almost two decades.

He is a former deputy editor at The Press and Journal and now works as a columnist for the title.