Shayona, Neasden (Meadowgarth Way, off Brentfield Road)

Phone Number: 0208 965 3365
Scores out of 5: Veggie friendly : 5/5; Vegan-options available: Yes; Value for money: 4/5, Quality of cooking : 3/5; Ambience : 4/5; Service: 2.5/5 ;Atmosphere: 3/5

The suburb of Neasden, famed for its humongous Ikea, is the unlikely home to the largest Hindu temple outside India (Guiness book of world records, 2000). This exquisitely carved marble temple is testament to the hard work and devotion of the Swaminarayan sect, to which many members of the local Gujarati community in Harrow and Neasden belong. 

Since a fortnight ago, Neasden has also become home to the temple’s restaurant Shayona, which sits quietly tucked away at the back of the temple's car park, beside a very large and well-stocked Indian grocery store and super-tidy sweet shop (all run by the temple's trust).  To me, the temple is a real taste of exotic India amidst a very suburban British landscape. It strangely feels like the last remaining relic from the era of a fictional sixteenth century Indian conqueror, with the bland housing estates and industrial parks of Neasden developing  around it. Visiting it always suddenly transports me in a matter of seconds  to my local Gujarati temple in Bombay. I get the same feeling at Shayona; it feels very much like an upper-middle class restaurant from Bombay or Ahmedabad teleported in an alien yet weirdly comforting way into a car park in this bit of suburban London.

Inside, tables are spaced well-apart and everything is shiny and gleaming. Service is attentive and very pleasant but they did make a couple of silly mistakes with our order. Given that it has just opened, the management are still sorting out teething problems, and so this is understandable.

The team of chefs hails from Gujarat and North India and the restaurant specializes in “Gujju” staples like undhiyu , thepla (spiced, thin Gujarati flatbreads) and chaat [Indian street (fast) food] besides serving a few South Indian specialities, as well as a long list of North Indian spiced gravy dishes.

The food is served in supposedly trendy but not entirely practical triangular and oblong plates.  The food itself is fairly traditional Indian fare and ranged from mediocre to outstanding depending on the dish ordered.

Not long after we arrived, we were served some complimentary crunchy boondi (crispy-fried  lentil droplets) while we looked through the menu.  The boondi was incredibly spicy but very fresh and delicious, as long as you can stomach it.

Next we tried the sev puri (lentil puff pastry topped with sweet, hot and sour chutnies, mashed spiced potato and the un-translatable crunchy ‘sev’). The puris were small, well-formed and perfectly arranged. The pastry was crispy and had all the right ingredients for toppings but somehow the dish as a whole was not as tasty as it looked. 

Next up was a beautifully crispy, large but mediocre dosa (a South Indian rice & lentil crepe) served with a  sambar (spicy lentil dip) that was nice enough but didn’t taste too authentic and a chutney (coconut dip) which was vile (I suspect that it was made from preserved coconut rather than fresh – sacrilege !!! ). 

Then came a plate of hearty, well cooked chips. Very nice and filling !!

 And finally the piece de resistance – an outstanding pau bhaji consisting of  a beautifully spiced mixed vegetable gravy accompanied by breads that could be used to mop the gravy up. It’s been a very long time since I’ve tasted this dish served up this well anywhere outside Bombay. The use of the right proportion of spices allowed the  stewed and braised vegetables  to mellow into a mouth-watering dish with the texture of good quality mashed potato. The bread, though not authentic Bombay pau, was perfectly adequate.

Much as I regretted it, we had no space for either the thali (set meal) or pudding that would have been next on my list. So we came to the end of a very pleasant and satisfying meal that set us back roughly £18 for 4 dishes and 2 drinks. Perfectly reasonable prices for the quality offered.

And best of all, I could head outside, finish my Indian grocery shopping and buy some delectable Indian sweets to take home.

I’ll definitely be back in a few weeks to try this place once it’s fully operational and has the full menu available to serve.

 Shayona, Meadowgarth Road

Ph : 0208 965 3365


  1. Hey....!
    lovely piece written
    I am from london and dint know much about the vegge places here
    Will defi try the above !
    and have some mercy while writing coz the way u have makes the reader crave for all the stuff above, more and more !!

    happy to find a veggie blog in UK
    keep it up !

  2. Hi,

    I dont know if you have been there recently. We found the service was appauling. The staff was rude. We have a one year toddler and moment my wife took some lunch out for her at the resturant one of the service staff pounced on us yelling no, no outside food even without asking us first who is it for.

    I had to explain him twice that it is salt and sugar free home made baby food before he backed off.

    Food is ok but I honestly wish they get some decent service staff.

  3. I have visted here on so many occassions and have always found the food to be excellent and flavoursome. We bring our two children and feel completely looked after by the staff. On the rare occasions that my husband and I have visited without the children, the staff always ask where they are and if they are ok. The staff are always friendly and courteous.

    The food: where do I start? We actually travel up here from South Oxfordshire- just for the food. It's great to have free run on a menu without having to scan it's suitability. The Shayona mince curry (all veggie) is totally fab, it's my 8 year old's favourite. It has just the right amount of spice.

    Don't take my word for it- try it, friends of ours did and now they say they can't eat Indian anywhere else!

  4. None other can beat, simple, well priced, well presented, well served. Tasted great. Fantastic place to hide away from the credit crunch. Chilli Mogo was exceptional. And on top of everything is that even though they dont use garlic or onion ( sutiable for Jains and Swaminarayan Sampraday followers) still the food tastes tasty and awesome.

  5. I have eaten at Shayona Restaurant about 4 times in total now and only have good words to say for it!

    Food: There is a broad range of items from all over India so it is best to go in a group and share a couple of different dishes. For starters I especially enjoy 'Crispy Kumbh' - a paneer-stuffed, deep-fried mushroom dish. Some of the mains I have enjoyed include Paneer Butter Masala, Veg Jalfrezi and Navratna Korma. It's worth trying the desserts if you're able to spend a tad more.

    Service: The service has consistently improved. The restaurant has a good number of staff so that you do not have to wait long to order or ask for something. The food was served impressively quick.

    Ambience: The interior design of the restaurant is beautiful. The seats and tables are comfortable. There are some comfy sofas towards the back of the restaurant too!

    Price: I do not eat out often so the price is high for me (nevertheless, it is definitely worth it once in a while). But compared to other restaurants of a similar standard, I believe Shayona is cheap. You can easily be filled up for £10 per person.


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