Centrally located on Shaftesbury Avenue of London’s West End is the Hankies Cafe. It’s a restaurant specialising in Delhi street food and Roomali Roti, a.k.a the Hankies. It sits humbly next to the Piccadilly West End Hotel and opposite all the dazzling lights of Chinatown and West End theatres. The menu shares a very similar style to that of Talli Joe – i.e. a small-dish tapas-style menu, but a little more casual and wallet-friendly.

Hankies Cafe Piccadilly Circus

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 – simple, casual, and very chilled.

Everything on the menu is halal except for the Guineafowl Sheek Kebab.

*Update: Hankies Cafe has opened up a new and fancier branch at Marble Arch.
Read also: Hankies Marble Arch Restaurant Review

The Food: What We Ordered

Chicken Achar (£1.50)

Chicken Achar at Hankies Cafe

Yes, you heard right, it’s Chicken Achar – not Achari Chicken, but actual Chicken Achar. ‘Achar’ means Indian pickles that are 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 a unique 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)

Egg & Crab Gotala at Hankies Cafe

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 offered a lovely tease to the taste buds. I love crab and the crab added this palatable touch of flavours to the overall dish as well. The spices didn’t overpower the taste of the crab, but instead, elevated one another.

The eggs were chopped into these small pieces and featured a beautifully 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)

When it comes to chicken grills, this one is certainly a winner. The chicken was well-marinated and was incredibly 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 good punch 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 it. We agreed that this is one of the best dishes we ordered.

Chilli Lamb Chops (£5 – 1pc / £9 – 2pc)

Chilli Lamb Chops at Hankies Cafe

Marinated in Kashmiri chillies, paprika, and mustard oil, these lamb chops were quite a little delightful munch. They were tender to bite and got a lovely chargrilled touch to it. The spice was not overly strong – just enough to tease your palate and give a little tingling dance. It is served with a green peas sauce and a little piece of lime that complimented well with the meat. Overall, these chops were juicy, flavoursome and tender. The only thing I would criticise is that I would personally prefer it to be cooked a little less as it’s missing that medium-pink colour for me.

Chive & Garlic Prawn (£6.50 – 1pc / £12 – 2pc)

Chive & Garlic Prawns at Hankies Cafe

When the dish was served, we were so happy and surprised to see how huge the prawns were. They were cooked just right, with a lovely chargrilled touch to them. With a squeeze of lime, the flavours popped out nicely. Being keen seafood lovers, we absolutely loved that the prawns came with shells on – it’s the best way to keep the flavours!

Sea Bream (£12)

Fried Sea Bream at Hankies Cafe

When the dish arrived at our table, my immediate reaction was that it reminded me of a Shanghainese dish where a whole fish is deep-fried and topped with tomato sauce. Of course, the two dishes are completely different but the way it was served did give some resemblance. The fish was pan-fried with various spices and then topped with a tangy mix of tomatoes, onions and coriander. Seeing a whole fish is certainly a bonus to me. The fish carried 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 meat grills.

Chicken Dhaba (£5.5)

Chicken Dhaba Curry at Hankies Cafe

Chicken Dhaba is a classic roadside chicken curry dish. I learnt that ‘dhabas’ refers to roadside restaurants that are typically situated on the highways of India.

The onion tomato masala of the curry was generally fragrant to taste. The chicken pieces were tender and carried a nice kick of spice. It’s decent but not particularly impressive at the same time. It’s like any other decent restaurant-style curry and didn’t have a unique flair to stand out like their other dishes.

Roomali Roti (£1.5 per Roomali)

We’re at a restaurant specialising in Roomali Roti so, of course, we had to try out the roti to pair with our food! The roti came in fresh & warm and was nicely folded like a ‘hankie’. Upon ‘unfolding’ the roti, a lovely aroma hit the table. It carried this thin and supple texture, being the perfect complement to the food we ordered and most perfect to wipe the plate clean.

Restaurant Review Summary

All in all, we really enjoyed our experience at the Hankies Cafe. The food was pretty good and the small-dish concept makes it an ideal spot to grab a quick bite, especially if you’re attending the theatre nearby. The staff have been extremely friendly, which added to our whole dining experience. If you’re around the area, it’s definitely worth popping by Hankies Cafe to check them out!

  • Food
  • Value
  • Atmosphere
  • Service

Halal Status

Everything on the menu is halal except for the Guineafowl Sheek Kebab.

Alcohol is present at the restaurant.

Tel: 020 7871 6021
Website: https://www.hankies.london/
Instagram: @hankies_shaftesbury

Nearest station: Picadilly Circus

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Hankies Cafe Restaurant Review
Hankies Cafe Restaurant Review
Hankies Cafe Restaurant Review

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