Typically when one conjures up thoughts of Shaftesbury Avenue, you think of a plethora of styles and tastes that occupy this hustle and bustling part of town. From Picaddily Circus up through Soho and China Town, past the West End theatres. There’s constant change and establishments come and go with a few that have managed to stamp their ground and remain firm favourites. There’s a new kid on the block now, Hankies.
Hero and Leander were invited to Hankies, a new North Indian street food concept where no dishes exceed £10. A refreshing concept in the expensive centre of London, although of course ordering lots of dishes can soon add up so it’s important to ask your server what is a recommended amount for you, peckish or famished. The interior is small and compact but the smells of spices and cooking when you walk through the door are really what hit you. A wonderful way to work up your appetite if fighting your way through tourists hasn’t done that to you already.
Upon arrival we were given a whistle stop tour of the space and the concept behind the brand. Exposed brickwork and timber forms on the walls create a cosy space, that is small but certainly doesn’t feel cramped as many smaller establishments in London do. Hankies are named after the handspun and stretched pieces of bread that are then folded with bread. They are cooked on a scolding hot Roomali Tawa ready to be served alongside your chars, street bites and vegetable dishes. This Delhi street food favourite has replaced rice on the menu and we were keen to see if the rice, the Indian cuisine staple was missed. Discussing this with the staff we were accompanied with two delicious cocktails. An Island Shandy with spiced rum, ginger, pineapple and beer served in a delicate glass and a Spicy Lychee number. Vodka, lychees and green chilli make for a punchy cocktail that is sure to be a favourite.
Looking at the menu, you can be forgiven for not knowing where to start as it’s similar to tapas – with lots of dishes to select and sample. Our waiter was more than happy to make recommendations though and before we knew it, we had a feast of colour and smells in front of us. We were treated to chutneys and truffle sauces served in mini mason jars, excellent for spooning on to our Rotis. Dishes such as the chilli lamb chop, and the lemon and chilli jaggery chicken delighted us with the flavours of the meat. The lamb, in ginger garlic paste and paprika, chilli, garam masala and cumin was succulent and my personal favourite of the evening. The chicken was a lighter touch but by no means less flavoursome, with lemon really enhancing the flavour of chilli. The roti hankies it turns out are an excellent food to use to scoop up your dishes and work as a brilliant alternative to rice.
If you’ve got room for a desert after all of this magic on plates then try the Aam Gur Ki Kher. Mango, rice, caramel and cardamom work together to finish off the evening wonderfully, although we had to share one!
Here’s hoping that Hankies with its unique and exciting Indian concept becomes a firm longstanding resident of Shaftesbury Avenue. We certainly think it has the potential to do so.
Hankies Roomali Kitchen
67 Shaftesbury Avenue
Monday – Sunday: 12:00pm – 11:00pm