Another day, another Indian restaurant in Central London. So what’s special about this one, you might ask? Plenty, as Kris and I recently found out when we hit this place for a spot of lunch.
Soho Wala is attached to The Courthouse Hotel and specialises in Indian Street Eats. But this is no soulless hotel restaurant. The interiors are colourful and the vibe casual, quite unexpected compared to the listed grandeur of the hotel itself.
We kicked off with some Videshi Poppadums | Garlic and Parmesan Baked and washed it down with Cobra beer (as you do)! The poppadoms were cheesy little morsels and incredibly moreish. However, the flecks of garlic were a bit overpowering.
We definitely had to order their most popular and playful Pani Puri Wala | Crispy Wheat Shells, Infused Chilli Tamarind Flavoured Water. The shells were crunchy and perfectly sized to fit your gob whole. It required some dexterity to accurately pour the water via the tiny holes on the top and then wolf them down without spilling any liquid down your fingers. The best part was the sensation of that sour, spice-infused water slowly unfurling in your mouth.
Last of the starters was the Mirchi Matchstick Chicken | Green Chilli, Lime, Ginger which had a spicy crispy coating to them. At £4.50, it was quite a generous portion and ridiculously good value.
Moving onto mains, we tucked into the meaty Gilafi Kebab | Lamb Mince, Mint, Coriander and Homemade Garam Masala. The meat was quite tender and there was a bit of zing to it.
The Byadgi Murg | Byadgi Chilli Spiced Marinated Boneless Chicken was glorious with a deep rich color and moderate spice.
The Kheema Pao | Spiced Minced Lamb, Green Peas had good fibre and textures of meat, served with warm buttery ‘pao’ buns that had been blessed with a few minutes under the grill to keep them soft yet sturdy.
Finally an Indo-Chinese inspired dish of Paneer Chilli Fry – a semi-dry preparation of paneer, peppers and onions, tossed with chilli – had stacks of flavour and was a welcome vegetarian addition to the table. We added some Garlic and Chives Kulcha to bulk it out.
Service was inconsistent; good at times but sometimes the staff were hard to attract.
There were three things that made Soho Wala stand out for me amongst the milieu of Indian restaurants in London today. Firstly, the taste; although I hate using the word ‘authentic’, the taste of the food here came very close to what I find in restaurants back at home. Secondly; the spice level. I am born and bred in India, but in spite of that I have a pitiable threshold for spice. The food here was gently spiced which I loved because, when it comes to food, I am more of a flavour than remorseless-heat-that-burns-my-insides kind of girl. Last but not least, the price. This is perhaps one of the most reasonably priced restaurants for good quality Indian food that I have found in Central London.
Location : 1 Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1F 7HL