Whisper it, but we might just be living in a time when it’s, gulp, possible to get decent food on Shaftesbury Avenue. I know, I know – incredible. Long the domain of Chinatown rejects and all-you-can-eat buffets, the arrival of Cafe Monico was a welcome step in the right direction for the Ave, and now Hankies is bringing an Indian food experience that’s unparalleled for the price and area.
It’s an unpretentious place, busy and welcoming, but their take on Indian street food is a delicious surprise. Everything is based around some excellent rotis (the eponymous Hankies) that accompany a trip through some classic street food faves. Chicken Achar was gloriously smoky, sticky and tangy (and fatty; like the Indian originals thighs are used) while Kachori poppers were surprisingly subtle fried pea balls. The fish tikka was a mile apart from the oily curry-house version and the best of the mains was an egg and crab Gotala that had us transported back to the sub-continent after a single bite.
With exotic takes on ice cream and rice pudding shoring up the usual weak spot for Indian restaurants – desserts, and knowledgeable and friendly service, this is a welcome central London eatery that punches way above its weight in terms of value. Dishoom has long been a Qbic fave but on this visit Hankies takes the Indian street-food crown.
Where? 67 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6EX
When? Mon – Sun 12:00pm – 11:00pm
Travel: Piccadilly Circus tube