Way back in 2002, a restaurant opened on Wyndham Street with big, Bombay dreams. It was the first Indian restaurant in Hong Kong to be included in the Michelin Guide (Bib Gourmand) in 2009, and Bombay Dreams has been receiving accolades every year since them.
It’s one of those institutions – a stalwart, a rock in our world – that has weathered the storms and prevailed.
Incredibly, Bombay Dreams has been in the same building since it opened – until now. It’s moved up the road and is now located just above Lan Kwai Fong at Winning Centre.
Two brand-new tandoori ovens were ordered from Australia and hoisted over the balcony, before it was discovered that the wrong size ovens had been sent! This detail was so important that the opening of the new location was significantly delayed until the correct ovens were delivered and hoisted into their new nest.
The new tandoori ovens get up to 350oC
Both the head chef, Devi Singh, and the general manager, Ashutosh Bisht, have worked together at Bombay Dreams since its opening in 2002! Along with Indian Master Chef Irshad Ahmed Quresh, they have toiled to ensure that the extensive menu is both consistent and exciting.
Tadkaa and NH-8
On arrival, we perused the small but quality cocktail list. Each of the seven drinks are not your average cocktails, with ingredients the likes of Darjeeling tea and saffron. We chose Tadkaa ($88), made irresistible by the the inclusion of dried curry leaves (!), along with gin, coconut, Campari and bitters. This was the right choice – and one we will make again! This drink is a gorgeous pink-peach colour, and it’s finished with cumin black salt around half the rim to mix and match your meal flavours.
Later, we tried NH-8 ($98), named after the national highway connecting Delhi and Mumbai. It’s made with tequila reposado, crème de cassis, lime and ginger beer and is served in a heavy brass mug, in the style of a traditional Indian goblet. This is a refreshing drink, garnished with fresh mint, and it paired wonderfully with our food, but we preferred Tadkaa.
We started with a pair of cauliflower florets, coloured brightly and piquant with tandoori spices and sweet citrus. They were perfectly cooked, with a shell of crunch from being in the blasting-hot tandoori oven, but tender in the middle. We could eat multiple plates of these, but they were only an amuse-bouche, a free sample served at the whim of the chef. We don’t even know the name!
The palak patta chaat ($88) was popular at the table and gone quickly. This version is made with chickpea flour on fresh spinach, fried and topped with potato, tamarind and yoghurt. Deep-fried Bombay chilgoza prawns ($168) were fresh and not too heavily spiced.
These two dishes from the main section of the menu are absolute standouts. The adrakh ke panje ($338/3) is a generous portion, with two lamb chops per piece. After marinating in yoghurt, ginger and spices and being roasted in the tandoori oven, the flavours are complex and the lamb tender.
Also recommended is the whole tandoori pomfret ($178), with fresh local pomfret marinated and grilled in the oven. The marinade seeps into the flesh of the fish, and these flavours combined with the crisped skin make every bite quite the pleasure.
Not pictured is the shahi galouti kebab ($148). This extremely plain-looking dish is a closely guarded royal chef recipe and one of the classic trademark dishes of the Qureshi clan. The story goes, the royals were prepared this dish so that they did not have to use their teeth; the finely minced lamb patty literally melts in the mouth. The flavours are surprising. It has a decent kick of heat, a myriad of spices and a touch of smokiness, but we really did not like the texture. Like the princess and the pea, I guess we’re not of royal blood.
Getting to the business section of the menu, we tried three curries and a biryani. The meat-free nizami tarkari biryani ($238) comes sealed, and on breaking the dough, there are layers of rice, vegetables and herbs flavoured with garam masala.
The creamy, coconutty Alleppey fish curry ($238) is new to the menu. This yellow curry contains red snapper fillet with spices (of course) and raw mango, which lightens the dish.
Familiar flavours can be found in the jalandhari murgh ($168), boneless chicken in a smooth tomato and onion gravy.
Though if you had to choose only one, you should order the dal Bombay ($108). This intense, buttery lentil dish is more spiced than a traditional dal makhani, and you will find each spoonful cannot be your last. If you decide to order an extra bowl to take home, we guarantee you won’t be the first!
Although quite full, we couldn’t resist a touch of ice cream and shared a mango and pomegranate kulfi ($88 each). Delicious, and we would particularly recommend them after a heaty dish.
And then it was whisky time. Along with their new pad, Bombay Dreams now has a whisky wall and an in-house sommelier to guide you through your whisky adventure.
We were delighted to see there is a selection of Indian whiskies here. Paul John Brilliance Single Malt ($108/30ml) is from John Distilleries in Goa and is matured in bourbon barrels. It’s smooth and slightly sweet, with a hint of caramel and no smoky peat.
For the chaser, we went with Amrut Fusion Single Malt ($128/30ml), which uses (or fuses – fusion, you see) barley from India and peated barley from Scotland. This was our preferred whisky, having the added complexity of smoke and spice whilst still retaining a level of sweetness.
The wall of whiskies. Photo credit: Bombay Dreams Facebook
When pressed, it’s difficult to choose our favourite thing about Bombay Dreams. It might be that the core staff have been there forever and are obviously invested in every diner’s well-being. Or it could be the stories behind nearly every dish, with some being recipes being passed on from a dynasty of royal chefs through to the master chef himself. But more likely it’s just that we are very comfortable dining here and enjoy the consistently good food and relaxing atmosphere.
The only issue we have (and have always had) with Bombay Dreams is that the menu is just so big. We want to try everything new whilst still ordering our old favourites, but this is impossible. One solution might be to take advantage of their weekend brunch buffet ($238/person), which includes a soft drink or beer, but even then, it would still be hard to try everything on offer. There’s a two-hour free-flow option for $198 too – we might see you there for this one!
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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