Dhaba 49 is a new North Indian restaurant in West London. We were invited to their exclusive preview event a few weeks ago before they officially opened their doors a few days after. Location-wise, it is in between Westbourne Park and Maida Vale, which isn’t a spot we normally explore.
The area isn’t very commercialized so we must admit we had our doubts. But then once we reached the spot, we were greeted by an elegant wooden door and were transported into a different space once we stepped in. We really adored the setting and interior of the place. In particular with the bus artwork on the wall, bicycle over the door, and the dimly lit setting – it’s a really nice set up for a dinner date.
Ghanta Ghar Ki Shikanji // Tropical Fruit Punch
This is a famous and traditional drink from the streets of India. It is made with fresh lime juice, mint sprigs, salt, sugar syrup, and topped with lemonade and water. The flavour of this drink was eccentric. The infusion of salty and sweet flavours resembles a drink we have in Hong Kong that mixes salted lemons and 7up together. It may be confusing at first but is certainly something unique to try.
As for their Fruit Punch, it consists a blend of passion fruit juice, mango juice, guava juice with coconut syrup and lychee juice. It’s certainly a fruity one with a rich and exotic touch.
Amritsari Fish & Hariyali Chicken
Moving onto starters. The Amritsari Fish were an absolute delight. They were fried fish in bite-size, making it the perfect nibble. The coating was well-seasoned with a subtle touch of spice to tease the palate. The Hariyali Chicken was soft and tender, with a nice minty tangy touch to it.
Palak Patte Ki Chaat
While we were expecting a typical papri chaat, Dhaba 49 offers a unique twist by using crispy spinach. Delightfully light and crispy, it would turn spinach-haters into spinach lovers. The extra crispiness and the soft bed of chaat creates a lovely contrast to the texture. The whole dish was fairly light and makes the perfect starter to open up your palate.
Tandoori Paneer & Malai Broccoli
We thought the Tandoori Paneer was a bit mediocre as the spices weren’t teasing and punchy enough. The Malai Broccoli though was certainly one we loved. The malai sauce was enriching and adds a luscious touch to the ordinary broccoli. We even joked it’s almost like a creamy broccoli cheese in Indian style!
Krahi Meat // Tiffin Chicken // Cucumber Raita // Naan
The Karahi Meat has a heavier taste and richer texture compared to the Chicken Tiffin. Both meats were cooked fairly tender. Though I do wished it was more melt-in-your-mouth and could tear off at the touch of a fork. The amount of spice in the curries were relatively mild for Indian food. In particular with the Karahi Meat, I was certainly expecting a sharper punch of spice.
The cucumber raita was refreshing as expected. It was a great option to wash down and lighten up all those rich curries. As for the naan, we believed it was hand-rolled as it was just so soft on the inside. With the nice subtle crisp on the outside, it was perfect to pick up all that delicious curry sauce.
This one was a hearty dish of curried mixed vegetables. It was a really lovely dish to have on the side as the flavours weren’t too loud.
Paneer Butter Masala
While we both absolutely love paneer, this one was a tad underwhelming. It was done really rich and creamy, which seemed to overpower the spices.
Jeera Aloo Anardana
Again subtly spiced but this one was pretty delightful. Our favourite part about the dish is how soft the potatoes were and that they’re of bite-sizes. It was just satisfying to have that mushy potatoes complemented with flavoursome spices and aroma.
Dhaba Dal // Pilau Rice
The dal has a subtle spice and carries a fairly comforting touch to it. It was perfect to go with their fluffy and fragrant pilau rice.
Stick Kulfi // Chocolate Fondant
Last but not least, we were offered two desserts to wrap up the evening. There’re kulfi sticks, with two flavours available for the evening. We opted for one each – a mango flavour and cream flavour respectively. They were tremendously creamy and quite rich.
As for the chocolate fondant, the presentation was certainly a winning one. The warm chocolate fondant was topped with vanilla ice cream and crunchy bites. While typically served with a raspberry sauce, Dhaba 49 embraced the Indian style by using mango instead – and it worked well. The centre was gooey but I would have personally preferred it to be more molten and gush out from the cake.
To sum up, I thought the meal was fairly decent and satisfying. I like the concept of the place but thought it may needed a bit more work to stand out among other contemporary Indian restaurants across the city. In my personal opinion, the food was more catered to a westernized palate rather than offering a Indian punch.
My Rating: 3/5
Halal Status: Halal
Read other Indian restaurants in London here