We were in central Sofia one afternoon with friends from England – our seven-year old-daughter in tow – when we decided to extend our meeting into the evening and stay out for dinner.
We had a dilemma or, more accurately, I did. The pangs for a good curry had overtaken me but I was aware that Indian restaurants sometimes do not cater very well to children. So my daughter and wife went off while the rest of us investigated Kohinoor.
Sofia has about four authentic Indian restaurants, none of which we had tried for at least a year. So we figured it was about time to indulge.
We arrived at about 7pm on a Saturday night and were immediately greeted by a very charming lady who assured us that the (Indian) chef could adapt to a child’s tastes. In this case, chips and cheese and a shopska salad. I called my wife and daughter and assured them that all was well.
We were taken downstairs to a very atmospheric and spacious dining area. The restaurant was almost full but not bursting at the seams and nicely decorated. (Later when my daughter arrived she had plenty to keep her occupied, examining the dolls and little Buddhas and deities scattered around).
Meanwhile, my companions and I ordered some beers to get the party going. We also ordered poppadoms. Consternation. No poppadoms! An Indian restaurant without poppadoms is like a fish and chip restaurant in the UK without…well, without chips. We were aghast. So we ordered an onion bhaji to start with (fried onion and ground yellow lentils with Indian spices) served in a mint sauce (6.50 leva). The portion was extremely generous – at least six onion bhajis (definitely far weightier than the 300g advertised). Enough to serve three and very tasty as well. I guess the restaurant was trying to appease us. And it worked.
My wife and daughter eventually arrived. The chips and salad were also very generous portions and alleviated our concerns. My child was a happy bunny.
I ordered chicken korma (400g for 14.90 leva) a very mild Indian dish – chicken diced in a creamy coconut sauce and garnished with dried fruits. As something of a chicken korma expert, I can honestly it was one of the best I have tasted recently.
My wife ordered chicken dhansak – chicken in a thick curry sauce with various lentils – (400g for 14.90 leva). We each had a portion of pillau rice (6.90 leva for 350g). My wife liked the sauce but thought that the chicken itself tasted a bit dry as if it had been cooked long beforehand and had not been given enough time to let the sauce soak through.
We also ordered two naan breads – 2.50 leva each for 150g. The first was better than the second.
On the plus side, the dishes were pleasantly spicy but also served piping hot which makes an agreeable change from most restaurants in Sofia.
Indian restaurants – as well as Chinese – seem determined to send you home with your stomach bursting out of your shirt. Kohinoor is no exception. So – knowing of the mega-sized portions – we asked the staff to pack the remains in boxes so that we could enjoy a second helping of curry at home the following day. They obliged very willingly.
Our companions ordered a Bombay salad – finely chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in a combination with corn, carrots and cabbage (6.50 leva for 400g) and chicken tikka massala (14.50 leva for 400g) with another portion of pillau rice. They enjoyed their meal.
The waiters were extremely attentive but not in your face. The bill, including five beers and two mango juices for our daughter, was 115 leva.
Kohinoor is, at the time of writing, one of the more agreeable of the Indian restaurants in Sofia and seems – deservedly – to be doing a good trade.
Address: 3 Khan Asparouh Str.,Sofia
Open: Monday to Friday Noon to 11pm
Saturday 5pm to 11pm
Sunday – closed
Credit cards: yes