Like Jay Rayner, when he wrote a review of Jaya last year, we found it through the Good Food Guide. We’ve had it bookmarked for some years but, until now, haven’t stopped over in the Llandudno area on a night when it opens. And it only opens on three nights a week, serving twenty covers in what is, otherwise, the breakfast room of a B & B.
It’s a family affair. She cooks, he runs front of house. Both of them do things well. There’s a shortish menu of mainly Punjabi dishes, together with a few which owe their allegiance to the cooking of Kenyan Asians. There’s poppadums to start. My partner wasn’t keen on the taste. I thought them OK, so scoffed the lot. There was the usual mango chutney and raita to go with them.
I’d decided to stick with the Kenyan dishes, although my first choice starter of cassava was “off”. It was suggested I go for the masala chips. Even though I am a man and northern, I’m sure this is the first time I’ve had a plate of chips as a starter. Good chips, not fries, properly floppy, dusted with a quite poky spice mix and served with a fruity chutney. I followed that with tamatar chicken. Chunks of chicken breast come in a well rounded, quite clingy tomato sauce.
Across the table, there was “pili pili boga” - mixed veg coated in a light tempura-like batter, deep fried and served with a tamarind sauce. It was all very enjoyable, although not a dish to set the world on fire. Karahi lamb was the best thing either of us ate. Long cooked in another clingy sauce, this one spiked nicely with chilli. We shared excellent rice and a perfect tandoori roti – soft in the middle and crisp round the edges, just as you hope it will be.
There’s a handful of desserts. A couple Indian, a couple Anglo. Only one of us wanted one – a falooda, which neither of us had had before. It’s like a thin milk shake with ice cream and strawberries. A very refreshing end to the meal.
Llandudno isn’t well endowed with good restaurants – the previous evening we’d driven 45 minutes to Beaumaris to eat at The Loft. So, it makes Jaya stand out more. But it would still stand out whatever the competition.