You may think that Britain’s national dish would be fish and chips or something classically English, but believe it or not, it’s chicken tikka masala (although I heard rumors it was ousted by a Chinese stir fry). London has some of the best Indian restaurants on the planet, and every time I visit London I make sure to get as much Indian food as I can. On my last 48 hour stint in the UK, I hit up two fantastic Indian restaurants: Dishoom and Roti Chai. If you’ll be in London, you’ll be missing out if you don’t try some of the flavorful Indian cuisine London is famous for. It sure beats shepherd’s pie.
Chicken Tikka Masala (Image source)
Near Leicester Square
12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9FB
Tel: 020 7420 9320
Also locations in Kings Cross and Shoreditch
Warm café lights glow above the black and white décor and tandoori smoked air quickly warms you from the inside. Dishoom is a Bombay Café transplanted to the heart of London. There can be quite a wait, but that just gives you an excuse to check out the bar downstairs.
The basement bar feels like an underground garden speakeasy. I could spend hours down there chilling with friends. It’s my kind of place. I ordered a bhang lassi with fresh shredded mint (in place of bhang) and candied fennel and enjoyed the ambience. I know drinking alcohol is less common among Indians compared to Americans or Europeans, but wow this place knows how to make a drink! I loved seeing all the unique flavors not found in typical cocktails.
When my table was ready, I went upstairs and got a seat in a cosy booth. I ordered a chicken curry and a chaijito – that’s right a chai mojito. The food lived up to the atmosphere.
Next time I’m in London, I’m definitely going back to this place and I’m bringing people with me to chill in the garden bar downstairs.
Near Marble Arch
3 Portman Mews South
London W1H 6HS
020 7408 0101
Roti Chai, another two-level restaurant caters to two different eating styles. The main floor houses Roti Chai’s Street Kitchen, a casual restaurant serving classic Indian street food and small plates for sharing. The lower level houses Roti Chai’s formal dining room where they serve larger main courses like butter chicken (makhani) or slow cooked lamb masala.
I opted for the street kitchen. I mean, who doesn’t love street food, especially when there’s no risk of Delhi belly? I ordered a masala chai and the chili paneer, which was a mix between a Chinese stir fry and an Indian chutney with cheese. Hard to explain, but very tasty. My favorite, though, was the pulusu chicken, an Andhra Pradesh chicken curry. I think I could eat that chicken curry for days before I got sick of it.
These two Indian restaurants are just a taste (see what I did there?) of what’s available in London. Someday I’ll make a special trip and try to scout out as many of London’s Indian restaurants as I can. (Breadcrumbs Guide to Indian Restaurants in London? Sounds like a good idea to me!) If you’re visiting London, check these out or scope out different places, but whatever you do make sure you try some Indian!
Londoners and travelers, I’m calling on you! What are your personal favorite Indian restaurants in London and what is your favorite dish? I’m looking for suggestions for next time!
Disclosure: I was not compensated in cash, credit, or curry for these reviews and all opinions are my own. However, if any Indian restaurants would like to compensate me with curry, I’m all in.