LONDON EATERIES – Authentic Indian street food at Hankies Marble Arch

Nestled inside the Montclam Hotel is Hankies, a traditional tapas style Delhi street food restaurant. Just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street and Marble Arch tube station, you’ll find this modern understated restaurant. Small but intimate surroundings with modern touches throughout the eatery you’ll find yourself swept up with the delights of the exotic. Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was the lack of Indian influences. The restaurant has a nice mix of modern and provincial decor which was refreshing and being from Los Angeles, most Indian establishments are quite cliched and gimmicky. I believe this allows the food to speak for itself rather than having a concept speak for the food. There’s plenty of seating within this cozy but generous restaurant, dim lighting and music that makes the ambiance of Hankies seem far hipper then what I was expecting. Really, this was a surprisingly nice change to what I’ve been exposed to as far as Indian cuisine is concerned.
The menu is simple and uncomplicated with a nice array of small bites, season special, grills and vegetables. The gracious support of wait staff helped lead us through the menu with several suggestions and explained that this is a tapas style restaurant with entries not exceedingly large but for sharing and experiencing different flavors and menu items. We ordered the Mantu which is a spicy chicken and spring onion ravioli, chili oil and yoghurt which sounded amazing but unfortunately, the waitress forgot to bring it to us. I will say, that with the number of food, drinks, and other items we ordered I never even noticed until after the dinner. Then the Dahi Bhalla which is Lentil dumplings, sweet yoghurt, tamarind and pomegranate which were a delight and very unexpected. Maybe I’m a novice when it comes to Indian cuisine but I found these dumplings to be unique. They were plump little balls with delicate but firm lentils, lightly covered with yoghurt and a dripping of sweet tamarind. I also ordered the Seabass which was crispy and had a nice bit of heat to it with all the fragrant herbs that are present in so many Indian dishes. This was by far the one dish that really stood out for me. Now onto the last items, the Butter Chicken and Pulao Chicken. These items I believe to be more traditionally Indian and are items that most likely can be found on menus all across the world. The Chicken was juicy and the butter sauce was rich n creamy, classic Delhi style. The Chicken Palao was a nice accompaniment to all the dishes with its subtle hints of saffron and the beautifully fragrant rice. But really, the things that are most important to me is the way you finish a meal. Drinks and Desserts! To close off the evening I decided to splurge a bit and have their Espresso Martini, Amaretto sour and two different homemade “Kulfi” ice cream selections. Yes you read correctly, I managed several drinks and two desserts and I’m proud to say I left not a drop of anything. Hankies have a nice array of exotic drinks and digestifs with your classic coffees and teas but you’re sure to find a masala chai and masala coffee on the menu also. Now there are other nice puddings on the menu like the chocolate fondant, cakes, and brownies but I’m a huge fan of ice creams and could not resist the temptations of the mango saffron and pistachio ice creams. The presentation was beautiful and had almost a simplistic Japanese flair about it but the taste was incredible. The Mango and Saffron are a wonderful classic Indian pairing and the Pistachio was bold in flavor.
The overall experience was so pleasant, I would definitely go back to Hankies over and over again but there were two small hiccups. One might have been due to the fact that I was a half hour early and the gracious staff seated me even though I don’t believe they were open yet. But considering I was the only table at the time in the restaurant I was a little dumbfounded as to why the food took so long to come out. Like I said, I was quite early and maybe the kitchen wasn’t prepared at that point for their evening service. The other hiccup was the missing dish. All in all these small little discrepancies were not significant enough to take away from the lovely wait staff, the delicious food and the overall relaxed but elegant atmosphere of the evening. I highly recommend a visit over to a relaxed new modern and elegant take on tapas-style street food at Hankies.
Jennifer, Heart London Magazine