Written byDavid Paw
The first thing you notice about Dishoom is just how busy it is. No matter which location you’re visiting, you’ll almost always a find a queue of people waiting for a table and a palpable energy of excitement in the room. Because Dishoom is more than just a restaurant - it’s a phenomenon.
The original Dishoom opened in Covent Garden in 2010, and it immediately changed Londoners’ expectations of what an Indian restaurant could and should be. The combination of homestyle cooking, vibey retro surroundings, and excellent cocktails proved to be a successful recipe for a young population looking for a good restaurant that could serve almost any need, from breakfast to brunch to big group dinners with fancy drinks.
Since then it’s become the go-to place for anyone who wants to eat Indian food in this city, both locals and tourists alike. There are now several Dishoom locations across London and they’re moving into other parts of England like a Led Zeppelin reunion tour.
The Soho branch of Dishoom is excellent not just for its convenient location, but also because it’s one of the largest so it’s usually easier to get a table than at the nearby Covent Garden original. There’s a nice patio outside for people-watching on Kingly Street, and a light filled section at the back that feels like you’re eating in a Bollywood living room.
As for the food, sticking to the regular curry and bread combos would be a mistake. Dishoom has a brilliant list of starters and snacks that are spot-on versions of things that you might actually eat in an Indian home kitchen, and the lamb chops and chicken ruby should be on your table. Follow our Food Rundown below for the hits, but know that it’s generally hard to go wrong. You don’t earn the title of ‘phenomenon’ with a menu that’s hit and miss.
You’ll probably be sat at the bar before you go to your table. Grab a plate of bhel puri, a tasty bowl of crisp, starchy delight - pour in the green coriander chutney, tamarind sauce and mix it all up and dive in. It’s a bit like Bombay Mix, but about a million times better.
Little prawns coated with batter and fried, with some tangy sauce. Not a must-order, but you’ll enjoy these if you like food of the battered and fried variety.
Total comfort food - a spicy mixture of soft veggies and potatoes, to be eaten on top of buttered white rolls. If you’ve never tried pau bhaji before, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Chicken Ruby Curry
This is as ‘standard’ a curry as you’ll find at Dishoom, and it’s pretty bloody good. It’s a cut above most chicken curries, and it’ll make everyone happy. Order plenty of naan bread and rice to mop up the gravy.
A no-brainer. They’re as good as you think they’ll be.