The first thing that stands out about Saffron is that there is a message in the front cover of the menu explaining that customers are free to order "Something that is not on the Grand Menu". This flexibility is a real bonus, allowing chefs to maximize their creative potential, as well as offering an arena for their signature dishes (this option is maybe not as rare as you might think, which is very encouraging. No harm in asking, anyway).
Talking to our amiable host, Jayanta, we wanted to know what he would go for if he was a customer eating at Saffron. He recommended a couple of things, including Saffron's very own Butter Chicken, made with a dry milk block called 'khowa' (you're unlikely to get it anywhere else in Japan), and their signature dish: Naga King Chili, which contains 15 grams of Bhut Jolokia, making it pretty much one of the hottest curries you can get. In fact, Jayanta described it as "exorbitantly hot". Can't wait to try it.
Me: “Can we have basmati rice?”
Jayanta: “We only serve basmati rice”.
This reminded me of my slip up when trying to order it while in the UK (they don’t serve anything but, either).
The tandoori plate came first: the chicken was succulent and perfectly marinated, and a slight dash of lemon brought out the subtlety of the flavours. The tiger prawn was exquisite and we could’ve easily done a whole plate of those by themselves. Finally, the lamb chop: wow. Covered with a mixed pepper and herb relish, and enhanced by some mint sauce, it was the clear winner on the plate. Chris and I went at it (maybe a little too wildly), with a bone-gnawing denouement that would’ve put your average piranha to shame. All in all a brilliant starter that we would’ve ordered again had it not been for the other glorious dishes headed our way.