After several years of being curry house-lite, Huddersfield town centre has seen a sudden explosion in Indian-style restaurants.
At one time there was the well-established Nawaab restaurant near the bus station and Chilli Lounge near the railway station and not much more.
Recently though LaLa’s has cut a dash opposite the George Hotel proving so popular that its owners have had to open up the basement to try to satisfy demand.
And if that were not enough, up springs the very well-reputed Jannat Restaurant, also close to the bus station.
But it seems there is still room for yet another newcomer – this time Shagun – perched cheekily opposite the lordly Nawaab.
One of the key men behind the venture is Vijendra Singh, 44, and originally from the northern part of India.
As well as the gift of curry he has the gift of tongues being fluent in Hindi, Gujerati, Nepal, Punjabi, Urdu and Arabic.
Though as India boasts more than 365 languages he still has a few to learn...
Fortunately, having lived in this country for six years he is also fluent in English and as hospitable a host as they come, ably assisted by the equally charming ‘Martin’.
Although originally from Nepal he has lived a peripatetic existence in this country over the past 13 years, roaming from Bath, Oxford, Essex, Southampton, Bristol, Devon and Bournemouth. Why he should be called Martin I have no idea...
The restaurant is pristine and has a welcoming, bright facade though as my friend Nigel Bean said: “nothing really to write home about in the decor department.”
I am not too bothered about decor in many ways.
When the company is good, the wine flowing and the poppadoms arrive glistening in a basket, who needs imaginative surroundings?
My friend Suzi was certainly on top form and obviously enjoyed her evening as she began balancing poppadoms on her head. Very fetching.
As for my friend Mindy, he was in his element busy sharing tales of the Punjab with his Asian hosts.
Our mood improved even further with the arrival of the food – Chicken Pathia for Nigel which he was glad to see on the menu as not all Asian restaurants present it.
Mindy always insists on some complicated vegetarian dish cooked to his own specifications and Vijendra, who has spent his life catering for customers in four and five star hotels from Bombay to Delhi, was more than happy to accommodate his wishes.
Suzi was too busy practising her poppadom balancing act to worry about her choice while I had my regular King Prawn Vindaloo style dish.
Dipping my naan bread into the delicious sauce accompanied by the excellent St Emilion took me very close to kitchen heaven. Bliss.
And one little test I have for restaurants is their ability to compose a decent Liqueur Coffee Cognac, having famously consumed 14 in a single session many moons ago.
Sometimes they arrive as muddy as the Amazon River but these were great and some of the best I have ever had.
But as Nigel, a former sales director and bon vivant, said, although it was a good and enjoyable meal, did it pack enough punch to survive in an ultra-competitive environment?
He fears the competition may be too fierce for it to survive though to be fair it has only been open a matter of weeks and has yet to enjoy an official opening ceremony.
Nigel said: “There is no obvious hook. Nothing makes it stand out from the crowd, witness LaLa’s the other week – modern, young, vivacious, the place to visit and be seen.”
I am not so sure. There is after all, a place for the understated, no fuss, friendly Indian restaurant and although I am a great admirer of LaLa’s it can be too popular, even frenetic, at times for its own good.
Shagun is a nice, calming restaurant which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Having said that it will have to try hard to survive.
Numerous restaurants of one description or another have attempted to make a fist of making a go of this site and some have lasted longer than others.
On one memorable occasion a colleague went to review a restaurant there. Before he had managed to claim his expenses it closed down and his review never appeared.
Let’s hope lightning doesn’t strike twice.
1 Half Moon Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2JD.
Tel: 01484 542 888.
Opening hours: Closed Tuesday. Open six days a week from noon until 10.30pm.
Website: Not yet - it’s in the planning.
Disabled access: No.
The bill: £75 including wine and coffee for four adults.
Would you go back? Certainly!