Down Shaftesbury Avenue, there’s this fairly new restaurant called the Hankies Cafe. It’s a restaurant specialising in Delhi street food with Roomali Roti, a.k.a the Hankies. The menu shares a very similar style to that of Talli Joe – i.e. the small dishes tapas-style menu. While the former is slightly fancier, Hankies Cafe features more of a street food style and is economically friendly.
The restaurant doesn’t have a massive space. There’s the cooking station where you can see roti being kneaded and spun around in front of you. Then the rest of the place is lined with wooden tables and benches. The setting is very casual and chilled, with very friendly staff to serve you. Everything on the menu is halal except for the Guineafowl Sheek Kebab.
Hankies Cafe has later opened up a new, fancier branch at Marble Arch.
Read also: Hankies Marble Arch Restaurant Review
Here is what we ordered:
Chicken Achar (£1.50)
Yes, you heard right, it’s Chicken Achar – not Achari Chicken, but actual Chicken Achar. ‘Achar’ means Indian pickles that’s typically made from a variety of vegetables and fruits. This one here at Hankies Cafe is more of an achar chutney that’s made with jaggery, mixed spices, curry leaves, and topped off with pieces of chicken.
I don’t find the achar being super impressive but I must say the addition of chicken makes it really interesting. It’s just really new concept to have these tender pieces of chicken served cold in a jar of pickled sauce. It was saucy, tangy and appetizing. All in all, it’s a really nice starter to the meal.
Egg & Crab Gotala (£7.50)
This dish is basically eggs ‘masala’ and spicy crab. I personally really enjoyed this dish. There’s a lovely kick of spice in this dish that’s really teasing to the taste buds. The crab adds this palatable touch of flavours to the overall dish. The spices and all that didn’t overpower the taste of crab, and instead elevated one another.
The eggs were chopped into these small pieces and of this beautiful soft texture. I personally would love to savour this dish with lots of rice where I can easily mix everything up and add that carb-filling satisfaction to the dish.
Lemon Chilli & Jaggery Chicken (£4.50)
This one was certainly a winner. The chicken was well-marinated and seasoned, and was absolutely juicy and succulent to relish. I loved the hint of sweetness from the jaggery while at the same time carrying this tangy flavour and a kick of spice. The chicken came with a yoghurt sauce on the side but it was so juicy that I didn’t need any of the sauce to complement with it. We agreed that this is one of the best dishes we ordered.
Chilli Lamb Chops (£5 – 1pc / £9 – 2pc)
The lamb chops are marinated in kashmiri chillies, paprika and mustard oil. They are served with a green peas sauce and a little piece of lime. The lamb chops were tender, with a lovely chargrilled touch to it. The spice was not too strong – just enough to tease your palate. In overall, it’s juicy, flavoursome and tender, though I personally would prefer to have it slightly more undercooked.
Chive & Garlic Prawn (£6.50 – 1pc / £12 – 2pc)
When the dish was served, we were so happy and surprised to see how big the prawns are. The prawns were with shells on and absolutely massive in size. They were cooked just right, with a lovely chargrilled touch to it. With a squeeze of lime, the flavours popped out nicely.
Sea Bream (£12)
When I saw the dish, my immediate reaction was that it reminds me of a Shanghainese dish where a whole fish is deep fried and topped with tomato sauce. Of course the two dishes are significantly different but the way it’s served does give some resemblance. The fish was pan-fried with various spice and then topped with a tangy mix of tomatoes, onions and coriander. Seeing a whole fish is certainly a bonus to me. The fish carries a beautiful light crisp on the outside, which was subtly spiced as well. The entire dish was very pleasant and delightful, as well as something different from the usual grills.
Chicken Dhaba (£5.5)
Chicken Dhaba is a classic roadside chicken curry dish. I learnt that ‘dhabas’ refers to roadside restaurants which are typically situated on the highways of India.
The onion tomato masala of the curry was fragrant. The chicken was tender and it carries a nice kick of spice. It’s quite decent but not particularly impressive. It’s like any other decent restaurant-style curry but just didn’t have a unique flair to stand out.
Roomali Roti (£1.5 per Roomali)
The roti came in fresh and warm. It was the perfect complement to all these scrumptious food. Nicely folded when served, and when you open it, it hits you with the aroma. It carries this thin and supple texture, which makes it perfect to wipe your plate clean.
As mentioned at the start of this post, just like Talli Joe, Hankies Cafe follows that Indian tapas concept. That being said the dishes come in small portions to share, making it the ideal spot to grab a quick bite. This place has a more rustic feel to it and it felt really cosy dining here. If you’re around the area, definitely do pop in and check this place out!
Everything on the menu is halal except for the Guineafowl Sheek Kebab.
Alcohol is present at the restaurant.
Nearest station: Picadilly Circus
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