Curry dynasty celebrates 397 coming of age

Locku and Daraz THE family that first brought traditional tandoori curry to Newcastle in the 1970s is celebrating its Jesmond restaurant’s 18th birthday.

 

Brothers Daraz Aziz, Locku Rahman and Abi Rahman will open the doors at the Valley Junction 397 restaurant in Archbold Terrace on July 17 for the 6,516th service since transforming the former railway carriage and signal box into an Indian fine dining restaurant.

 

The brothers are renowned among curry lovers across the North East for their group of Valley Restaurants which pay homage to the region’s railway heritage – their much loved Passage to India service linking Newcastle to their Corbridge restaurant has attracted custom from across the world. Also, the Valley Connection 301 is adjacent to the great heritage site of Hexham Abbey and has carried the same reputation of sister establishments since 2001.

 

The three brothers are part of the curry dynasty which blazed a trail for curry cuisine in Newcastle. Their uncle, Kutub, founded Moti Mahal near to Central Station in 1970 which their father, Syed Azizur Rahman, took over from 1973.

 

Locku said: “We are grateful to the many people who have remained loyal to our family’s restaurants for nearly half a century. We have customers come to us now who are the children and grandchildren of the first people eating in our father’s restaurant more than half a century ago.”

 

Locku puts the restaurant’s success down to the simple formula of providing first class service and excellent food. He believes changing attitudes to spicy food and a growing understanding of the diversity of dishes has seen customers become more adventurous, as well as Valley Restaurants adjusting the cooking style to accommodate for the health conscious.

 

“Tastes have changed,” Locku explained: “People are more adventurous with the things they are willing to try. People also realise that just because something has a lot of spices it doesn’t mean it is hot. It is all about flavour.”

 

The Valley Junction 397 was named after the saloon railway carriage which makes up part of the striking venue. It was given the number 397 when it was built for the Great Northern Railway at Doncaster in 1912. By a quirk of fate, Locku and Daraz took ownership of the carriage and the adjacent former signal box in March 1997 – the 3rd month of ’97, hence 397.

 

The restaurant, one of the few still cooking tandoori dishes over charcoal, has changed its summer opening times with lunch services discontinued and instead the evening service begins an hour earlier at 5pm.

 

Over the past 18 years, the restaurant has won a string of national accolades including being named in the Top 10 Indian Restaurants in Britain by The Guardian and the Most Original Restaurant in the UK by the Curry Club of Great Britain.

 

The future continues to look bright for one of Newcastle’s finest culinary institutions which has been patronised by a generation of famous sports people, Government ministers and music legends.

 

The next generation of the family is growing fast – Nabs, Daraz’s only son has recently graduated and joined the family business running the Valley at Corbridge. He intends to pursue a career in acting as well. The eldest of Locku’s three sons, Labib, is now 18, Naeeb is 15 and the youngest Liban is 5. The hopes and expectations of Tyneside’s curry community will be pinned on a dynasty stretching back more than half a century being carried on for decades to come.

 

  • As part of the 18th birthday celebrations, diners eating at the Valley Junction 397 on July 17 will be entered in a prize draw with the chance to win a meal for 4 at the restaurant.

 

 

 

 

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