China Town is a world in its own, the hustle and bustle is unlike any other part of town. There is something magical about it, restaurant after restaurant and each one has its own perks. But what I love about it, is right in the middle of that hustle and bustle of Chinese restaurants, you sometimes walk into a gem that’s you won’t want to walk past ever again.
Walking down Shaftesbury Avenue I walked into Hankies Cafe, a modern Indian street food restaurant. Yep you heard it right, Indian in China Town!
The interior – a mid-sizes restaurant with clean and modern tables, funky tiled wall and amazing food.
As with most Indian street food, the dishes are bite sized yet satisfying good. Their menus are very simple – just the way I like it! Less options means my indecisiveness is kept to a minimum. Best thing about the menu is that as the dishes are smaller portions, you could have a bit of everything.
I started off with one of their yummy mocktails – Nimbu Pani (which is a mojito with a twist).
And then the food kept on coming …
One of their signature dishes (hence the name Hankies!) Starters were Truffle Romali Roti (a signature dish), along with chicken achaar. I went for the chicken achaar because I didn’t really know what to expect. Turns out it was cold chicken in a spicy tomato paste. Sounds weird? Yes. Was it good? Absolutely! Now lets take a moment to talk about the truffle romali roti, wow! At first it seemed like a bit of an oily roti, but once you get to the cheesy bits, it’s absolutely genius.
One of my absolute favourite dishes of the whole meal. Dahi baray are my favourite anyways – crispy puri, yellow peas, potatoes, sprouts, yogurt and sev in a sweet tamarind sauce. Yum! These little parcels were great – a bit of sweet, a bit of sour, and a perfect combination.
One large prawn, grilled and full of flavour. I loved that this prawn was so well cooked but also had a twang of chillies! Best thing is, it comes as one prawn so enough just for one so need to share with your friends! 🙂
Morel Kebab – this was recommended by one of the very friendly members of staff at Hankies as his favourite – and I have to agree. When I think of kebabs, I think chewy meat, but this was a soft kebab dumpling, with wild morel mushrooms in a creamy sauce. Yum! This is one dish you definitely wouldn’t expect in a restaurant inspired by Indian street food. It’s so different but so good. Definitely one to try!
Warning – this one is spicy! Not for the weak hearted – but if you’re okay with chillies, this is the one for you. The chicken so succulently spicy, but cooked to perfection, it literally was melting in my mouth!
Can we take a minute to talk about the lamb chop please.. I have had one too many lamb chops in my lifetime but this was something else.. more like a steak less like a lamb chop and it was probably one of the best lamb chops I’ve had. Just look at that meat! Wowzers!
Hankies version of biryani, part of their Eid menu was great. Chicken in the middle buried in a bowl of biryani rice, and topped off with more chicken on top, served with a side of dahi raita, but why not go for something different and try the date and pomegranate raita, its as yummy and gives a hint of sweetness to this spicy biryani.
Now onto dessert…
Kheer with a twist, I wasn’t expecting there to be mango puree in the middle. It was interesting, maybe not my favourite menu on the dish. The crispy mango on top was definitely my favourite part of this dessert. Would have been nice if there were some other desserts on the menu, but this was a nice dessert.
Overall, I loved it! Everything was so well made and full of flavour, in an informal setting. My fave was definitely the dahi puri (although be warned you won’t want to share this with your friends!) I love that the food comes in small portions, enough to share but also enough to have on your own if you’d prefer not to share! I’ll definitely be coming back with my friends and family.
Best thing is, Hankies has an Eid menu on from 1st – 2nd July! Their Eid menu has some of my very favourite Asian dishes – Paya being one of them! Make the most of this menu and try is out while you can!
Food – 8 out of 10
Service – 8 out of 10
Atmosphere – 6 out of 10
Experience – 6.5 out of 10
Overall, giving Hankies Cafe a total TLH score of 7 out of 10.
Address: 67 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6EX
Halal Status: All meat is halal but they do serve alcohol
Closest Station: Leicester Square (Piccadilly or Northern Line)
Please note – this meal was complimentary but all opinions are my own