When we visited on a weekday lunchtime, the cosy, convivial indoor space, decked out with colourful, contemporary Indian-inspired artwork, was filling up fast, even after being open for just a few weeks. There’s also a small al-fresco terrace at the front that’s great for watching the weird and wonderful life of SoHo go by – bonus: it’s pet friendly.
The Indian-cuisine scene in Hong Kong has really upped its game of late, with notable modern Indian restaurant openings including New Punjab Club, Chaiwala and Rajasthan Rifles, but Cardamon Street is quite unique, serving up international dishes that have been Indianised.
The à-la-carte menu is divided into small sharing plates including sliders and tacos, bigger dishes like curries and biryanis and desserts. There are also good-value three-course set lunch ($118) and happy hour (Monday–Friday, 3–7pm) menus, with the cocktail of the day priced at a reasonable $52. Incidentally, if you’re a teetotaller, we sampled a few of the mocktails and can recommend the refreshing, zingy Cardamon Trio Berry ($78).
Indian mezze platter ($138): Middle Eastern mezze platters are always a winning way to begin a meal – grazing is our middle name – and Cardamon Street’s version sees the typical Middle Eastern dips of chickpea-based hummus, aubergine-based baba ganoush and tomato-based ezme given a makeover with Indian spicing – for example, the chickpea dip was heavier on the cumin than its Middle Eastern counterpart, and the aubergine dip was more akin to the popular Indian veggie dish of baingan bharta. Our fave of the trio was, perhaps surprisingly, the tomato dip for its fresh, bright flavours. These were served with triangles of rosemary and za’atar paratha – we suggest eating the bread quickly as it tends to get hard and rubbery within minutes.
Beef pepper fry ($118): a smaller portion than the other dishes, these tender cubes of beef were smothered in an addictive peppery sauce – an Indian rendition of steak au poivre perhaps. The fresh herbs on top provided a nice contrast and cut through any heaviness.
Sliders ($118 for 3): we went for the chicken tikka and dal wada mini burgers, and our pick goes to the lentil-based dal wada, which resembles falafel in taste and texture.
Tacos ($128 for 3): for these, we choose the Amritsari fried fish, lamb keema and paneer bhurji. The tacos are all made with paratha rather than corn or flour tortillas, and the fillings are again Indian with a twist. We enjoyed all three, but the paneer was our fave – Indian veggie dishes really are the bomb.
Lamb quinoa biryani ($178): this was the dish that stole the show, and our only question is: why didn’t someone think of it sooner? The nuttiness of the quinoa, with its signature chew, was a perfect foil to the rich, unctuous chunks of lamb. A healthy (and we’d say even tastier) version of a classic Indian dish.
Beetroot halwa with vanilla ice cream ($68): this one may have been a bit too far out for us (though we’re told it’s actually a traditional Indian dessert), but for lovers of beetroot, it would be a real treat. We found it too savoury, though the vanilla ice cream was lovely and creamy.
We think Cardamon Street will be a hit with SoHo diners looking for something different. It’s a unique yet affordable concept, and overall the Indian flavours in a Western format worked well. We’ll be back for more of that stellar lamb quinoa biryani and to try the weekend brunch menu, where Desi-style omelettes and eggs rule the roost.
38 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central, 2780 8484
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