Sakonis. It’s a place where every Indian in London has had to have been to at least once in their life. It’s a place where grandparents, parents, siblings and children all tuck into spicy fast food for lunch, snacks or dinner and in-between bites, chug away at a sweet or salty lassi. Since 1984, Sakonis has had a branch in Wembley and due to its strong following, has decided to open another branch in Hatch End, London, which I am keen to tell you about.
Unlike the Sakonis that I visited as a child in Wembley, which was primarily known for its rather simplistic décor, fast food and no frills service, the Sakonis in Hatch End, London seems to want to offer something a little bit different. It’s taken the Sakonis name and recipes and created a more fine dining affair which appears to want to cater and welcome those that perhaps weren’t so awed by the experience that they had in Wembley. The items on the menus in both branches are nearly identical, so this review will give you insight to the food that you can enjoy (whether its in the low-key or up-market dining version of the establishment).
Instagram worthy healthy Gujarati snacks
The menu is categorised into small plates, big plates, street food, Indo-Chinese and so on which is rather helpful if you’re new to eating Indian food or/and some of the dish names don’t ring a bell and you can’t figure out whether it will fill you or not. In this article, I will be walking you through some parts of the menu and giving you insight to what’s what.
From the small plates, you have a number of choices, some which err on the healthy side whereas others not so much. Let’s start with the more healthy options which are as follows: dhokla, patra and khichi.
Dhokla is a steamed cake prepared with chickpea flour and spices and is cooked with little or no oil; it is known to be one of Gujarat’s best protein snacks. Patra is another steamed Gujarati snack that creates a complete medley of flavours; it consists of colocasia leaves which are stuffed with rice flour and spices such as tamarind.
With Gujarati food advocating healthy staples, another Gujarati snack served up in Sakonis is khichi. Khichi is made with rice flour and spices including cumin, ginger, salt and chillies and is essentially a steamed dumpling with a smooth silky texture. It is usually served with a small handful of red chilli powder and a side of oil which you dip the dumpling into, as featured in the photograph above. In my view, the food here is definitely Instagramable, what do you think so far?
Looking now towards the less healthy but certainly flavoursome small plates, Sakonis offers samosa, kachori and mogo chips. Samosas and kachoris are parcels of cooked vegetables that are covered in a pastry of some sort and fried. Mogo chips are basically chips made out of cassava. The price range for the small plates ranges from 2.00 GBP – 4.00 GBP (3 USD – 6 USD).
In contrast to the small plates are the big plates and the most noteworthy one that you need to know about is the big plate of crispy bhajia, which are potato slices fried in a flavoursome chickpea batter. The cost for the generous and irresistible bhajia is 6 GBP (8 USD). The crispy bhajia are a legendary dish served up at Sakonis so if you visit and don’t try it, you’re missing out big time!
Behold the colourful and flavoursome street food
Moving now onto the bold and bursting with spicy street food! Cities throughout India, including Mumbai and New Deli, boast about their delicious array of street food and no true Indian restaurant would be complete without serving up some colourful and tasty examples of this food. Examples of such street food dishes at Sakonis include bhel puri, pani puri, dahi puri and sev puri. “Puri” are thin refreshing mini balls of semolina which are broken on the top and partly filled with a stuffing.
Bhel puri consists of boiled potatoes, tomatoes, onions, fried chickpea noodles, turmeric, green chutney and a tamarind chutney filling. Pani puri has similar ingredients but the focus and star of it is a mixture of flavoured water which is made of coriander, mint, green chilli and ginger and is placed within the puri. In comparison to this is dahi puri, which replaces the mixture of flavoured water with a creamy and light yoghurt. The cost for a plate of mini puris with one of the stuffings mentioned above is from 4.25 GBP – 5 GBP (6 USD – 7 USD).
The best street food dish, in my view, has to be lip-smacking pav bhaji which is a super hot thick curry made of mashed vegetables and is served with a slice of lemon and some fried butter buns. This dish is available at Sakonis for 6 GBP (8 USD).
Indo-Chinese food from Kolkata
With Chinese cuisine playing an integral part of the Indian culinary scene, Sakonis has dedicated a part of its menu to what is known as Indo-Chinese food. This fusion of flavours of chilli, garlic and soy sauce initially came about when Chinese immigrants arrived in Kolkata and blended their traditions with Indian dishes.
Sakonis’ menu features the classic Indo-Chinese options such as chilli paneer, hakka noodles, Schezwan noodles and chilli tofu. The price range for the Indo-Chinese dishes ranges from 5.50 GBP – 7 GBP (8 USD – 10 USD). The most recommended dish in this part of the menu has to be the chewy, spicy and full of protein chilli paneer. Chilli paneer is cubes of fried cottage cheese that is coated in a spicy chilli and soya sauce and topped with peppers and green chillies.
If you’re looking for something to accompany the chilli paneer, there are a few delicious options on the menu which can be found in the “extras” section. For example, if you’ve got taste buds that can stand proudly against the heat of chilli, you may want a chilli naan to go with your chilli paneer! Alternatively, you may wish to try some fluffy bature which is a soft leavened fried Indian bread.
Although I must say that if you want to eat like a true Indian and you want some bature, I would have to recommend that you have it with the channa masala, which is a chickpea curry, rather than the chilli paneer. The cost for the various types of Indian flatbreads available range from 2 GBP – 3.20 GBP (3 USD – 5 USD). The cost of channa masala is 6.50 GBP (9 USD).
Traditional Indian sweets and some modern eggless options
Now that we’ve covered the savoury dishes, it’s time that I share with you the sweet dishes available at Sakonis, which has a great selection to spoil you. Serving up all the classic Indian sweets like gajar halwa, gulab jamun, shrikhand and jalebi, it will be hard for you to decide which one to order. If you’re new to the Indian sweet front, don’t worry and read on as I will explain each of these very delicious dishes.
Gajar halwa is a popular carrot-based sweet pudding that is made of carrots combined with milk, water, ghee and sugar and is usually served warm. Gulab jamun are deep fried dough balls that are made of milk powder, flour, butter and cream or milk and then soaked in a rosewater scented syrup; they can be served hot or cold. Srikahand is a cool yoghurt-based pudding which is generally flavoured with saffron, cardamom or/and dried fruit. Jalebi is essentially a fermented fried fritter which is crispy on the outside, soft and syrupy on the inside and is so very addictive! The cost for the Indian desserts is around 4 GBP (6 USD).
If the traditional Indian desserts don’t take your fancy, then I would have to recommend that you try either the eggless cheesecake or eggless ice cream available. The eggless cheesecake comes in either a strawberry or honey comb smash option and I have to suggest the latter as it was possibly one of the best cakes that I have ever eaten! The eggless ice cream comes in the following flavours: pistachio, hazelnut, cookies and cream, chocolate and coconut. The cost of these desert options is from 3.75 GBP – 5 GBP (5 USD – 7 USD).
Delicious food that shouldn't be missed
The Sakonis in Wembley is older than me and has a more simplistic dining area in comparison to the Sakonis in Hatch End, which has only recently opened and is more stylish in its décor, tableware and overall ambiance, creating a more upmarket experience. What brings these two branches together is one thing: delicious food that should not be missed! Whilst the service in both branches is average and could certainly be improved to enhance guests’ overall experience, the food served up is so good that you can turn a blind eye to the areas that need a bit more fine tuning. It should be noted that the price range for dishes of the Sakonis in Hatch End is higher than that in Wembley and this article reflects the higher range.
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