If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of right now – it’s Indian street food. I love Indian food more than any cuisine in the world, but the street food of India is a whole other thing entirely and the variations of what you can eat are incredible. Different flavours, different spices and different levels of chilli heat depending on where you are. Situated at the end of Carnaby Street, Soho Wala is central London’s newest addition inside the Courthouse Hotel and I can’t get enough of it.
The kitchen here is looked after by Rajesh Parmar who has previously worked for the Taj Hotel Group in India and the Waldorf Astoria Collection right here in London. Decor is simple, as are the table settings – but the menu and the amazing prices quickly make up for that. So does the quality of the food. We started with a modern take on phulwadi, which to me are completely unrecognisable here. A cross between the traditional gram flour snack and a papadum, they’ve been coloured, flavoured with truffle oil and served with the most delicious coriander and tamarind chutneys.
Easing us into Soho Wala nicely was this very refreshing papdi chaat. A delicious mixture of sweet yoghurt, mint, tamarind and wheat crisps. All topped off with some juicy pomegranate seeds. A really lovely dish and a bargain priced at just £4.
Probably one of the most simplest of Indian dishes, but one which still manages to taste completely different no matter where you eat it, is the good old classic and authentic pani puri. We asked for spicy and got mild, but I loved that because if there was one thing in England we’ve still not mastered, it’s spice – though personally I’d have liked it a lot hotter.
My favourite dish was these little mirchi matchstick chicken wings. Tiny, succulent pieces of fried chicken with a dusting of green chilli, lime and ginger. Another absolute bargain priced at just £4 and with around 15 little wings in total which were all packed with flavour.
One dish I enjoyed but didn’t fall completely in love with was the malai wali broccoli and achar wali gobi. Cauliflower and broccoli, smothered in mascarpone and spices – then chargrilled for a touch of smokiness. As a dish it was perhaps ever so slightly dry but with a squeeze of lime it quickly perked up. More flavour, more spice and a side of something to dip and this could be great.
If there was one Indian dish I’ve always steered away from – it’s a laal maas. I first had this fiery Rajasthani curry many years ago and it was so hot I was crying at the table and I couldn’t get past it, despite how delicious it tasted. Here at Soho Wala, the heat may have been toned down, but that rich, roasted chilli flavour still remains and the slow cooked lamb simply fell apart in the mouth. A really lovely dish made even better with some fluffy rice and a buttery naan.
To finish, some lovely coconut ice cream and an irresistible Assam tea brûlée with a Parle-G biscuit base, vanilla ice cream and malai crème. It was actually more like a cheesecake if anything but that only made it better for me and every bite of it was delicious. I also loved the sprinkling of lavender which added a nice perfumed aroma to it all.
I really enjoyed Soho Wala and whilst it perhaps needs a few improvements decor wise, the food is lovely and the prices are even better. If I was looking for a casual Indian dinner in Soho then I wouldn’t hesitate to come back – especially if those little wings and that smokey laal maas are on the menu.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.