The latest to open up on the Westgate roof terrace is Mowgli Street Food, an Indian dining experience which ” is not about the intimate, hushed dining experience. It is about the smash and grab zing of healthy, light, virtuosic herbs and spices.” We’d been looking forward to their opening yet with lingering flu, completely managed to miss their launch three days ago. Today, on a quick shopping jaunt into town and realising we’d skipped lunch we headed to Pho for some restorative noodles but there was a queue. Luckily a few tables were available in Mowgli so we headed in.
First impressions were of a large open space, exposed brickwork, wooden tables and benches, metal pipe dividers with Kilner jars full of fairy lights. The tables that had rope swing seats were intriguing but I was happy to be seated on a solid bench! A warm welcome from all the nearby members of staff as we were led to our table and then the food service was clearly explained to us.
Dishes are of a sharing plate size so it’s recommended that you have 3 or 4 dishes per person. The menu is split into five sections; Street Chat, Street Meats, Hindu Kitchen, House Kitchen and Carbs. Impressively, I also spotted an entirely separate vegan menu, saving you from going through dish by dish to find out exactly what is available for a vegan diner. All the dishes are on the full menu too but this is a nice touch. I asked which dishes were suitable for someone with a coconut allergy and the answer came back quickly that it was just one dish – the house chicken curry, but that coconut was in the kitchen so there was a possibility of cross contamination. Good enough for me!
Having had pani puri at Thali, the yoghurt chat bombs, £4.95, sounded similar and so those were a definite order. Crisp bread puffs filled with spiced yoghurt, chickpeas, tamarind and coriander with a pomegranate seed on top. Five of these arrived with our waiter advising us to pop a whole one in the mouth at once. Oh my word. These were an explosion of fragrant coriander, sour tamarind, chickpeas and a sweetness from the pomegranate and they were amazing. So good that when a table of four got seated next to us and couldn’t decide what to order, I leant over and recommended these! My only issue is that there was five of them and I get irked when places offer you sharing dishes but then give you an odd number!
Hot and puffy puri bread arrived next, £2.60 for two and these were perfect for ladling our dishes onto and scooping up sauces. Treacle tamarind fries, described as “lip smacking, spiced treacle tamarind and rum slicked fries” were a revelation. Cubes of potato with a sticky, sweet, sour glaze and insanely good, £5.25.
We’d asked our waitress to decide for us between gunpowder chicken and angry bird and she’d recommended the latter for £6.95 – boneless chicken thighs marinated and roasted with tandoor spices, yoghurt, ginger and garlic with a Mowgli slaw. Two large thighs, nicely blackened on the skin and moist thigh meat with tons of flavour in every bite. The slaw was red cabbage spiced with a sweet tartness and popped mustard seeds, liberally scattered with soft sultanas.
Lamb chops with turmeric chips were two lamb cutlets, hot and with spicy rendered fat on a bed of potato cubes with a tomato, mint and coriander chutney, £8.75 The lamb was cooked perfectly, a hint of pinkness and succulent meat from a yoghurt marinade.
Finally, Mowgli chicken wings, because well, chicken wings! These were piled on a plate and liberally drizzled with a sticky, fingerlicking glaze and sesame seeds, £6.95. Think of your favourite Korean wings and give them an Indian twist and that’s exactly what they were. The thin crispy batter was made with gram flour and that sublime glaze was a mix of Manchurian spiced molasses, dark rum, cumin, garam masala and popped mustard. The chicken meat was soft and moist, allowing you to pull the bone out before biting through that sticky, crispy coating to the meat underneath.
At this point, I wandered off to chat and take photos only to discover the bill had already been paid when I got back to the table so I didn’t get to try any of the desserts I had my eye on – the syrup soaked dough balls, or the Mowgli brownie or the Pink Himalayan salted caramel ice cream. It gives me a really good excuse to return though, especially as I also want to try the Himalayan Cheese Toast, the Mowgli chip butty, the Goan fish curry and many more.
This is Mowgli’s fifth restaurant and the first one to open down south. I don’t know what’s taken them so long to get down here, but flipping heck, am I glad they’re here now!