London, a city celebrated for its rich tapestry of cultures and cuisines, is home to an array of restaurants that transport diners to far-off lands. Among these, Dishoom Soho stands out as a culinary gem, offering a journey through the bustling streets of Bombay right in the heart of London’s Soho district. In this blog, we’ll embark on a flavorful expedition, exploring the history, ambience, and, most importantly, the exquisite dishes that make Dishoom Soho a must-visit destination.
The History of Dishoom
Before diving into the gastronomic delights, it’s essential to appreciate the history that flavours every corner of Dishoom. The restaurant draws inspiration from the Irani cafés of Bombay, a once-thriving cultural phenomenon that fused Persian and Indian influences. These cafés, now dwindling in number, were once vibrant hubs where people from all walks of life gathered to share stories over cups of chai and plates of delectable food.
Dishoom pays homage to this bygone era, recreating the warm, communal atmosphere and the diverse culinary offerings that characterized Irani cafés. The founders, Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, alongside their friend Adarsh Radia, sought to bring the spirit of these cafés to London. The result is Dishoom, a collection of restaurants that capture the essence of Bombay’s Irani cafés, with Soho being a shining example.
The Soho Ambiance
Upon entering Dishoom Soho, guests are enveloped in an atmosphere that seamlessly blends the old-world charm of Irani cafés with the vibrant energy of Soho. The interior is a homage to the rustic, yet stylish, aesthetic of Bombay’s cafés, adorned with vintage photographs, tiled floors, and rustic furniture. The space is designed to evoke nostalgia, inviting patrons to step into a different time and place.
The attention to detail extends to the soundtrack that fills the air – a melange of classic Bollywood tunes, the clinking of tea glasses, and the hum of animated conversations. Dishoom Soho isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a theatrical experience that transports diners to the heart of Bombay, providing a welcome escape from the bustling streets of London.
The Culinary Odyssey Begins
Now, let’s turn our attention to the star of the show – the food. Dishoom’s menu is a carefully curated celebration of the diverse culinary influences that characterize Bombay’s Irani cafés. From breakfast to dinner, each dish is a testament to the rich cultural tapestry that defines Indian cuisine.
You can find their menu [here].
Breakfast at Dishoom: The Perfect Start
Dishoom’s breakfast menu is a symphony of flavours, offering a tantalizing array of options to kickstart your day. The signature Bacon Naan Roll, a marriage of crispy bacon, cream cheese, and chili tomato jam encased in a freshly baked naan, is a breakfast revelation. The Kejriwal, a spiced and cheesy Akuri (spiced scrambled eggs) on toast, pays homage to the Irani café tradition of serving simple yet soul-satisfying breakfasts.
The breakfast menu is a testament to Dishoom’s commitment to authenticity, with each dish expertly crafted to capture the essence of Irani cafés in Bombay. Whether you opt for the classic Akuri or the Parsi Omelette, every bite is a journey to the vibrant streets of South Bombay.
Lunch and Dinner: A Feast for the Senses
As the day progresses, Dishoom Soho transforms into a haven for those seeking hearty, flavorful lunches and dinners. The menu is a mosaic of Bombay’s diverse culinary influences – from street food to home-style dishes. The Chicken Ruby, a luscious and aromatic curry, pays homage to the Parsi love for hearty stews. The House Black Daal, simmered for over 24 hours to perfection, is a velvety delight that has attained legendary status among Dishoom aficionados.
The grills section of the menu introduces diners to Dishoom’s take on Bombay’s vibrant street food scene. The Lamb Seekh Kebab, marinated in aromatic spices and cooked to perfection, is a carnivore’s delight. The Vegetable Salli, a bowl of sweet and spicy Parsi-style spiced vegetables, showcases Dishoom’s commitment to providing diverse options for every palate.
Dishoom’s culinary prowess is not limited to traditional dishes; the restaurant also introduces innovative creations that pay homage to the Irani café spirit. The Okra Fries, delicately spiced and crisped to perfection, are a modern twist on a beloved vegetable, while the Pau Bhaji Roll puts a contemporary spin on a Mumbai street food classic.
The Art of Chai: An Irresistible Tradition
No visit to Dishoom is complete without savouring their signature chai. The restaurant takes the art of chai seriously, and each cup is a labour of love. The Dishoom Chai is a robust blend of loose-leaf tea, ginger, and spices, brewed to perfection and served in traditional Bombay style – sweet, strong, and with a hint of spice. Whether enjoyed with breakfast or as an evening pick-me-up, Dishoom’s chai is an essential part of the dining experience.
A Feast for the Eyes and Ears: Dishoom’s Events and Community Spirit
Dishoom Soho is more than just a restaurant; it’s a hub of cultural activities and community engagement. The restaurant regularly hosts events that celebrate Bombay’s diverse cultural heritage, from live music performances to literary gatherings. The events calendar reflects Dishoom’s commitment to fostering a sense of community, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the cultural tapestry that defines Bombay.
Moreover, Dishoom’s commitment to social responsibility extends beyond its walls. The restaurant supports various charitable initiatives, including partnerships with Magic Breakfast to provide meals to schoolchildren in need. Dining at Dishoom isn’t just a culinary experience; it’s a chance to contribute to a larger narrative of community and social impact.
Conclusion: Dishoom Soho – A Culinary Haven in the Heart of London
In the heart of Soho, Dishoom stands as a testament to the power of culinary storytelling. Through its meticulously crafted ambience, diverse menu, and commitment to community engagement, Dishoom Soho offers patrons more than just a meal – it provides an immersive journey through the cultural richness of Bombay. Whether you’re a Londoner seeking a taste of India or a traveller yearning for the vibrant streets of Bombay, Dishoom Soho is a culinary haven that beckons with open arms, promising an unforgettable dining experience that transcends borders and time.