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Journal entry

A Bombay Café in East London

One day, an eccentric old Irani…

One day, an eccentric old Irani Café (born circa 1930, Bombay), creaking slightly at the seams, made the long trip from Bombay in 1970 to London in 2012. Tired from the long journey, it shuffled into an empty space in Shoreditch and made itself comfortable. This old Café had for some time been maintaining correspondence with its slightly more showy cousin who had made a similar trip and had found a home in Covent Garden.

However, while the cousin in Covent Garden had worked hard to polish, primp and style itself, this Café was less concerned. It knew instinctively that the layers of imperfection and eccentricity built up over the many years of serving customers in Bombay weren’t merely clutter to be cleaned up and scratches to be polished out, but were in fact its very memory and character. It decided to leave its disheveled corners right where they were, as little reminders of home.

Gradually, as it grew to know and love its new community, it realised that it felt very much at home in it. The customers enjoyed hearing its stories of old Bombay, many of which were even true. They liked the faded pictures of the relatives on the walls. They smiled as they gradually grew to know the quirks of this old Café – which seemed constantly to be hankering after a lost mid-century Bombay. They seemed to care little that the shininess of the Covent Garden cousin was absent.

And most of all the Café loved serving food and drink with so much enthusiasm. The food which came quickly out of the open kitchen. The Lamb Raan which had been cooked overnight and seemed completely at home in a burger. The warm baked biscuits and Keema puffs, just like those still being served at Sassannian Café in Bombay. The endless cups of chai, the best thing to revive energy levels on a wilted Tuesday afternoon. The bar, which served the most delicious and sincere old cocktails – Flips, Gimlets, Juleps and Sours, felt even a bit pre-‘47.

Brunch on Sunday would be deliciously lazy, laced warmly with the aroma of the bakery. Lunch with colleagues on a Wednesday, busy and brisk, waiters bustling on to the verandah with trays of abundant food. Afternoon chai would provide a calm refuge from the East London street. Meanwhile, dinner and drinks on a Friday or Saturday night would see the place at its liveliest, buzzing with Londoners coming to a good old knees-up hosted by the eccentric old Café.

Throughout, the Café smiled inwardly to itself. It was never happier than when it was being true to itself and serving its guests – sharing its love for Bombay, serving its food, telling its stories. And before too long, the Café began to feel as if it had always been there wedged comfortably into Boundary Street, accumulating its own East London layers.


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Wow! Well done guys. Really proud of you and your expanding empire :-)


Wohooo!! Now my favorite vada-pav and thump up are walking distance away. Congratulations guys!!


Can't wait! Been obsessed with Dishoom for a long while before moving to London from Canada. :)


Great news guys - really excited to come and visit!!


How do you guys dream this stuff up? Fantastic. Can’t wait to come and see it :-)


Now even more reasons to visit London! Congratulations guys. Very much looking forward to sampling pav bhaji, vada pav and the awesome delights of Mumbai you bring to London. Here's wishing a branch in Newcastle isnt far off eh!:)


Thank you all for the kind comments - we're really excited, and very touched by your kind words. Do drop us an email on for invites to fun stuff... Sanjay - how do we dream it up? Two words my friend. Bhang. Lassi. Kidding... mostly ;-)


Lovely piece, knew about the Shoreditch opening already but enjoyed reading this nevertheless, charmingly written! An ode to the Dishoom personality.


I can't wait for this mega overdose of flavours and feelings all mixed up together within this environment so breathtaking with a speechless service! I love you DISHOOM!!


Congrats. How come Dishoom is venturing east before entering the more urbanised West. A branch in Notting Hill or South Kensington would have been more obvious..


Congratulations.... This place is an instant mood lifter....An ode to d good ol Bombay we miss so much...Bought a smile on my face..waiting to visit this place again with my husband and see him devour his favourites...Thums up...


well done guys... cant wait :-)

Laxmi (@laxmi)

Awesome! And the boundaries are changed forever here!

Sheherezade Shaw

This is an incredibly mix of cuisine under the label of Indian. It's different and experimental for sure but I wouldn't visit it again in a hurry.