What: A Himalayan-inspired restaurant from the same stable as highly rated Indian small plates restaurant Gunpowder. Owners Harneet and Devina Baweja have signed up for a year’s residency in the top room of a pub a pakora’s throw from their original site just south of Spitalfields in east London.
The chef: The menu is overseen by Gunpowder head chef Nirmal Save, whose CV includes a number of more fancy Indian establishments including Indian Zest in Sunbury-on-Thames. But the Bawejas have travelled the Himalayas extensively and have had a lot of input in the menu (Harneet is even known to rattle the pots and pans from time to time). There are influences from both India and China making for intensely-spiced, zing-y dishes that use a lot of fresh herbs and even more fresh chillies.
The vibe: The whole shtick of the restaurant is based on a fictional character called Madame D who was apparently forced out of China and made her way across the Himalayas taking in Nepal and Tibet. The 25-cover restaurant is supposed to be her new London flat. Curiosities from her travels line the whitewashed walls and the decor also evokes the ramshackle back rooms that once littered the Commercial Street rag route.
The menu: Like Gunpowder, the menu is simply a list of a dozen or so dishes with no obvious structure (two greedy people can pretty much put the whole thing away in one sitting). Highlights include Nepal-style fatty pork, which is cooked then dried and cleverly set off against a mouth-wateringly acidic tomato and onion salad, and a killer dish of noodles flecked with finely chopped lamb, pickled chillies and topped with a fried egg.
The spice is right: Tiffin masala lamb noodles with fried egg
And another thing: Harneet says that picking up a Michelin Bib Gourmand for Gunpowder has given the team the confidence to try new things. As such it looks like another opening is on the cards, with the Gunpowder crew understood to be looking at sites for an “all-new concept that will further push the envelope for authentic Indian food”.