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Colin's Restaurant Column, Navaa in Sudbury

Author: Colin Walters Published: 3rd May 2015 16:23

 The New Navaa in Sudbury

Colin's Restaurant Column

NAVAA, Church Street, Ballingdon in Sudbury

It's a bit like when you discover a new band or see a film or TV programme for the first time and you just know that all your friends and relations will love it and you just can't wait to tell everyone you know about it.... Well that's Navaa.

In one of Sudbury's most famous landmark buildings, The Olde Bull on the corner of Church and Cross Streets in Ballingdon, is a new and very special restaurant. The food is described as Asian fine fusion and that's a pretty accurate description with dishes from all over South East Asia including all of the usual "Indian" restaurant favourites but also specialising in Nepalese cuisine. The emphasis is on aroma and flavor with every dish being cooked fresh and even the spices being hand ground in Navaa's kitchen.

The new owners have some experience in converting historic pubs into fine dining Asian cuisine restaurants having already transformed similar establishments across the region (Yuva in Debden and Royston together with Chutney Joe's in Brentwood). The Olde Bull has been extensively refurbished for Navaa where the owners have created the feel of a modern "boutique" hotel atmosphere which is perfectly pitched right down to the excellent "background" music. It will be intriguing to see what they make of the seven room "hotel" side of the business which should be refurbished and running before the end of the year.

We visited the restaurant on the hottest day of the year and although there was no air conditioning, something the owners are aiming to address, the staff brought out a fan to keep us cool which was typical of the friendly, helpful and attentive service shown throughout our visit.

We began our meal with the traditional "poppadum and chutneys" nibbles but where you could tell that the onion salad had been freshly chopped. Our starters were Chicken Tikka Mala, marinated overnight in a secret recipe which, for all the bribery we tried, we couldn't extract from the staff and King Prawn Laybay, two giant prawns in a deliciously sweet sauce.

 Navaa's Luxurious Interior

For mains we decided to try dishes from each of the three different sections of the menu:-
From the "Chef's Special" menu, a piquant Garlic Chilli Chicken Karai but where the garlic and the chili didn't overwhelm the chicken.

Lamb Meti, an aromatic traditional Indian dish from the "Classic" menu
Flavoursome Chicken Katmandu from the "Nepalese "menu", a really mild and subtle plateful cooked with sweet peppers.

Each of the dishes was quite lovely, beautifully presented, subtly flavoured and so obviously freshly made. How often in "Indian" restaurants do you find your dish swimming in Ghee? Well that is definitely not the case in Navaa where the chef uses just a thimbleful of oil in each dish, almost "dry frying" which allows the flavour's of the food to shine through.

To accompany the main dishes we had Plain Rice, the best Onion Bhajees we've ever eaten (my other half had two which is amazing as she normally won't touch them!) and a Peshwari Naan so elegantly presented, covered in Almonds and Mango, it almost looked too pretty to eat. We overcame our conscience however and it tasted as good as it looked.

We finished our meal with some Kulfi, traditional Indian Ice Cream.

Our three course meal for two including a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc came to around £60 so won't break the bank and it's definitely somewhere we'll visit again. All of the other diners we spoke to said the same and just how tasty the food was and how attentive the service. Indeed my other half, not normally an Asian restaurant enthusiast, was so impressed, she wants to book Navaa's 12-seater private dining room for her birthday. Not sure you could get a higher recommendation than that?


 Some very happy Customers

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