Scottish Curry Awards 2023: Edinburgh and Lothians winners including Bombay Lounge and Chennai’s Marina
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There were four local winners in the Scottish Curry Awards 2023, including a Dalkeith restaurant owner picking up the Curry King title and a business with establishments in Dalry and Jock’s Lodge picking up the Outstanding Indian Takeaway of the Year award.
At Tuesday night’s awards ceremony at the Marriot Hotel in Glasgow, Dalkeith’s Bombay Lounge manager Michael Singh won the ‘Curry King or Queen’ award for this year, takeaway Chennai's Marina was named the best in Scotland, Ghana Bhandari of Gurkha Bar & Restaurant in Musselburgh was named manager of the year, and the Best of Edinburgh award was presented to city centre restaurant Kahani.
He said: “It’s a really great achievement. Quite overwhelming. It’s great to be the Curry King of Scotland! The award was from a public vote, so it’s great to see our customers appreciate what we do. And judges then came out to the restaurant to taste our food and meet me. So it’s quite amazing.
"I was totally shocked when it was announced last night, I’m still in shock. We took one of our most loyal customers, Mark Robertson, who has been coming to us for 10/15 years with his kids. So it was great to share last night with him. I’m just overwhelmed to be the Curry King, especially during the week of the King’s Coronation – which we will be celebrating on Saturday with bunting and balloons, so it will be a double celebration now. Dalkeith is lovely, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. The customers are great, they feel like family. I hope to see as many of them as possible on Saturday to celebrate.”
Michael thanked his parents for all their support over the years, as he looked back on his career. The 49-year-old said: “The industry is changing so much. There are new people with new ideas. I have been doing this for 35 years now, I’m 50 next month and started when I was just 15, washing pots at Stockbridge Michelin star restaurant Lancers. I thought at the time ‘I’m going to open my own restaurant one day and make it a success’, and now I’m here, the Curry King!
"I don’t know where the time has gone. So to get this awareness means so much. My mum and dad have supported me through everything over the years. My mum sadly passed away nine years ago so I was thinking about her last night. And my dad was diagnosed with dementia during the pandemic so he couldn’t attend last night. But I dedicate this award to him and my mum. I have worked hard throughout my career and I like to look back sometimes at what I have achieved. So I will never forget last night. It meant so much to me and the business.”
Sannah Aron, director of Outstanding Indian Takeaway of the Year, Chennai's Marina, was delighted that the business, which has shops in Dalry and Jock’s Lodge, was recognised with this award. He said: “It was quite exciting to win as we are on a roll now, after we were named regional winner last year and now national winner. It feels great. We didn’t expect it.
"When I started this business two years ago the main thing I wanted to do was provide food that is as authentic as possible, it’s proper south Indian food. Which I felt was really hard to get in Edinburgh. There was a lack of choice here. Our foods are very rich. Every state in India has different tastes. So I use spices and ingredients from south India and Sri Lanka – where some of my family are from – to make it more authentic. So that comes across in our food and I think it sets us apart from other takeaways.
"I came to Edinburgh as a student and now I’m doing my profession and providing authentic south Indian and Sri Lankan food for the people of Edinburgh to enjoy, it’s great. And to win this award is great motivation and shows that our customers like what we do.”
Ali Chand, general manager for Best Of Edinburgh award winner Kahani at Antigua Street, said: “We have had a tough few years since we started in 2019, with the pandemic and the tram works, we didn’t have any hope left. We thought we might never open again. But everything is slowly coming back, and so to win this award, we couldn’t believe it. It was amazing, fantastic to win. I would like to thank all of our customers for their support over the years. We hope to continue to thrive and get better.”
Another Edinburgh establishment picking up a Scottish Curry Award was Shanaz at Raeburn Place in Stockbridge, which was named South East Scotland takeaway of the year. The business was started in 2000 by Mohamed Ahad with a shop at Old Dalkeith Road, before adding the Stockbridge premises in 2002, and then selling the original Shanaz this year. The business is named after Mohamed’s son Shanaz Hoque, who is now manager.
Shanaz, 24, couldn’t attend the service as the accounting and finance university student had exams the next day, so his father picked up the prize.
He said: “It felt very good to win. This should be a big boost for us hopefully. My dad doesn’t work at the takeaway anymore but it was great that he could go to the awards ceremony.
"There is a lot of competition, with many great Indian takeaways in the South East region of Scotland. So it’s great to win.
"It was nice to finish my degree and win this award in the same week.”