Glass samples Indian Street Food at Soho Wala

INDIAN restaurants flood the city of London however, Solo Wala sets itself aside by solely focusing on Indian street food. Situated in the belly of London’s Carnaby Street, as part of the beautiful Courthouse Hotel, Soho Wala offers a sit down dining experience which celebrates traditional street food snacks similar to the ones you’d find dotted on the busy streets of Delhi and Bombay.

Having grown up eating Indian street food I questioned the authenticity of the restaurant as flavours risk being Westernised in mainstream city locations. With this in mind, I took my seat in the restaurant and browsed the menu nervously.

Pani puri

Before ordering food, my eyes glaze the drinks menu and I’m pleasantly surprised to see a small selection of Indian soft drinks which I never expected to see outside of India. For the sake of nostalgia, I order a Thumbs Up, which is India’s version of Coca Cola in the hope it will taste as good as I remember. Other Indian drinks such as Lima (Indian 7up), Indian lager and lassi are also desirable options.

Farfar, a popular Indian snack

Something brilliant about the Soho Wala menu is the sheer choice of snacks, mains and all the bits in between. Although I visited with one friend, it was easy to see how the variety of dishes could easily be shared amongst a group of people. If there is one criticism to be made it’s that the portions are on the smaller side however, that doesn’t bother me much as I ordered a selection of dishes in excitement.

I started with the Pani Puri, which is arguably the most popular type of Indian street food. Six perfect round pani puris arrived dressed up in a tray and I put one in my mouth whole, confidently crunching until my mouth was flooded with spicy water and the puri filling. There’s no graceful way to eat pani puri, but it was certainly a novelty being sat down enjoying it as it’s usually something I’m used to eating at the side of a road in India.

With most of the menu being fairly familiar to me, I was surprised to find a few untraditional dishes such as the truffle phulwadi, which sounded interesting on paper but not enough for me to risk ordering it. Instead we go for the mirchi matchstick chicken which was recommended to us by the waiter, along with kheema pao, paneer chilli fry and the Kali dal.

The matchstick chicken was a complete hit with my guest, who devoured the dish before the kheema. My heart was with the more humble Kali dal which was perfectly creamy and flavoursome due to its overnight cooking process. The menu is both kind to meat eaters and vegetarians, but a winner for both is the paneer chilli fry dish which features crispy paneer in a sticky spicy sauce – a popular South Indian dish. All of this was enjoyed with a mixture of fluffy and fresh butter naan and garlic naan.

Soho Wala interior

With the main course winning my approval, my focus quickly moved to dessert. I would usually order a pistachio kulfi for dessert but this is mainly due to a lack of choice on Indian dessert menus. At Soho Wala I feel so terribly spoilt to the point where deciding what to have seems like a genuine problem. I order the gulab jamun cheesecake out of sheer curiosity but worry about how sweet it might be. A stack of a sweet spongey jamun sat on a dense creamy pillow. My initial worry about sweetness is no longer there as the cream cheese filling evens out the sugar from the jamun – an unlikely duo – followed by the crumbly crunch of the biscuit base.

I left Soho Wala feeling full. I was impressed by the authentic flavours yet equally pleased by the subtle quirky fusions. The restaurant is a brilliant introduction to Indian street food whilst offering up delicious staples.

by Katrina Mirpuri

Solo Wala, 21 Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1F 7HL

Contact: or call 02072975568 for bookings

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Glass Music Editor

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