Single dish specialty restaurants have become all the rage in London in the last few years. Ramen, udon, schnitzel, lasagna, meatballs, hot dogs, lobster rolls, steak (and even cereal!) have all been turned into restaurant concepts – some with more successful than others. In theory, greater specialisation should result in near perfection of the dish in question – after all, if your entire business concept revolves around one thing, that one thing should logically be done really well. If not, you might as well give up. It also has the ancillary benefit that your patrons will not have to stare at a menu too long to decide what to order. On the flip side, one can’t afford to be too fussy with the menu as free will is quite limited in such places.
However, the trend shows little chance of abating any time soon; so, what is going to come next? Well, to answer that question, the folk at Dum Biryani House have now brought their titular dish to the London food scene – specifically serving Hyderabadi biryani. Biryanis are a common place dish in many Indian restaurant, usually served as part of a far larger menu. So, the question is whether star treatment would result in a better biryani.
The restaurant itself is in a converted basement – designed to look pretty much like a trendy Soho establishment – with mood lighting, good music and a shiny bar in the main dining area. The sort of place you could hang out on a weekend even if you weren’t planning on eating anything. So, would the food match up to the surroundings?
A nice snack to start off the meal – with a little spice to give it just the right amount of kick.
Not the typical curry that one gets with channa masala, this was a light refreshing salad.
These were more unusual – deep fried yoghurt – surprisingly light for something deep fried – yummy without the oily feeling that can sometimes go with deep frying.
These had more of a kick – the tangy, spicy sauce coating the chicken wings served to whet our appetite for the main course.
Large juicy prawns – can’t go wrong with that – with just the right amount of spicing and coconut for flavour, these were very likeable.
The main deal – the lamb dum biryani – cooked in a traditional fashion by steaming over coals (dum) in a vessel sealed with dough. This dish does justify the whole single dish restaurant concept, and is one of the best examples of biryani around Soho. The lamb was tender and tasty, with an expert blend of spices and the rice. One nice (and original) touch was the use of puff pastry to seal the cooking vessel – not infrequently, the dough used to seal the cooking vessel tends to be less palatable – rather like lumping stale pizza as an after thought; in this instance, it served as a little nice extra something to munch along with the accompanying curry and pickles.
Smooth and sweet, this was a good contrast to the spiciness of the main meal and finished off the evening well.
By the time we finished our meal, we had tired pretty much everything on the menu apart from the vegetarian biryani (it should be noted that the quiet eater does not have a spectacular affinity for vegetables) – one of the benefits of small menus! Overall, pretty much everything we tried was good. The kitchen had taken traditional and added one or two modern twists to further enhance the recipe. This biryani house is another good addition to the Soho dining scene and reinforces the idea that the single dish restaurant is probably a really good thing – it also cuts down on the indecision among my sometime more fussy dining friends, not something to be underestimated.
A quiet eating 7.5/10.
We were invited to review but the estimated cost would be GBP18-20 (2 courses) excluding drinks and service .
187B Wardour Street
London W1F 8ZB