Darjeeling Express restaurant moves to Covent Garden

The hip street food eaterie is winging its way to Garrick Street later this year. Peter Gray reports.

Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express restaurant is set to move to Covent Garden later this year in a move that the restaurateur says will help shake up the industry.

The restaurant, which closed its Soho branch earlier this year, will move into a building on Garrick Street which formerly housed the flagship restaurant of Italian chain Carluccio.

The Darjeeling Express began life several years ago as an intimate 12 cover supper club in Khan’s Kensington home. The club offered self confessed foodie Khan a way of not only paying homage to the food that she had grown up with, but also a means of utilising her burgeoning culinary skills. From such humble origins, the Darjeeling Express emerged.

With an all female team in charge of the kitchen, the Darjeeling Express has quickly gained a reputation for the quality of the food it serves – dishes which showcase the kind of cuisine one might find on the backstreets of Colcatta or Hyderabad.

There’s Tangra chilli garlic prawn, for instance. Or Mumbai style Chaat. Or even lamb dum biryani. These dishes are not just meant to nourish the body, but also the soul.

Now, with a much larger space to play with, and in an area fit to bursting with quality restaurants, Khan’s new restaurant in Garrick street looks set to maintain and uphold these fine traditions.

The new restaurant will offer an all day deli, with a menu apparently inspired by the food found along India’s railways. Then, in the evenings, the eaterie will offer a range of exhilarating tasting menus. One will focus entirely dedicated to biryanis, while another will celebrate the food typically found on a journey between Calcutta and Darjeeling.

“I have always wanted to do something like this. The takeaway, all-day deli will be inspired by the food we ate while travelling in India – what I ate as a child” Khan recently told the I newspaper.

“Families always eat together. We would have chaat, dum aloo, keema rotis, dals. The food changes along the way and that in itself is special.

“These are family memories. It’s about capturing the spirit of travelling with loved ones and sharing food. I think that’s worth celebrating. It’s the food Indian mothers feed their families – or anyone hungry on the train.”

Khan was clearly excited to be moving to Covent Garden, too. “It is a prime location” she told the I newspaper. “These sorts of places used to be closed to people like me. It’s about time. I hope others take similar steps and are inspired by this. My shadow wouldn’t have even crossed the doorstep before”.

More information about the Darjeeling Express can be found here.

For information on other great restaurants in London, please click here.

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-London's Best Events-
What: new restaurant
When: Autumn 2020
Where: Garrick Street