Having opened its doors earlier this year, Moja is the self-proclaimed (and totally true might I add) finest Bangladeshi and Indian Restaurant and Take-away in Matlock and beyond. The restaurant has already built up a loyal clientele and upon entering the building, you already know you’re in for a treat.
The décor is stylish and cool, having taken over three months for it to reach its beautiful state (the standout feature of the water-wall makes even being in the restaurant an absolute pleasure). I could have gone on happily standing there for a while, but the waiting staff were attentive and courteous, meaning we were seated within minutes of arriving.
I started with the King Prawn Butterfly coated in seasoned breadcrumbs. The prawn was tender and melt in your mouth and I finished with the Jal Jul, a hot chicken dish cooked with a base of spring onions and red hot chilli. I like dishes with heat; what I dig even more, is when you can actually taste the spices in the dish. The Jal Jul is no different, where a complex layering of ginger, garlic, fragrant cardamom and cinnamon makes every mouthful so special.
My dining partner had the delicately spiced Mix Kebab starter that included buttery onion bhaji, moreish sheek kebab and heavenly chicken tikka.
He was even happier with his main, which was the Chef’s Special Lamb Jalfrezi. Cooked with piquant green chillis in a thick sauce, it was mopped up by the very substantial Tandoori Roti that came thoughtfully nestled in a foil wrapper to conserve the heat. It is little touches like these that make Moja stand head and shoulders above any of the Indian restaurants out there.
Sundries are often relegated to nondescript side-dishes and in some restaurants, can make for boringly bland food. Not so at Moja, whose Pilau Rice is a revelation. It’s the best I’ve ever had. Seriously. Each perfectly cooked grain of rice falls from fork to mouth in a gentle flurry and I was almost disappointed when I had polished off my generous portion.
The restaurant was busy with a diverse crowd, from couples on date-night, to various large parties celebrating a get-together and a birthday too. Moja supports the BYOB ethos and with no corkage fee, an evening out at Moja will not cost you the earth, despite it being nothing short of a five star experience.
When we left, I couldn’t help notice that other restaurants on the same street were nowhere nearly as busy as Moja. And I think I know why. Moja has that winning combination of excellent home-cooked food, incomparable customer service and a soothing water-wall that you wish you could take home. Get yourself down to Moja, where a warm welcome, delicious curry and top drawer service is guaranteed.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 10
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Address: 129 Dale Road, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3LU Tel: 01629 582 858
*This review first appeared in The Derbyshire Guardian*