Monday, 18 January 2010
It's become a bit of a trend of late to take a popular snack food from a foreign country and flog it to central London punters at a 500% mark-up. That may sound like a rather cynical line to open on but I can't help noticing how many of the God-knows-how-many bloody burrito vans declare their product to be as authentic as authentic can be, then keep a straight face when charging £6 each for them (with 50p extra for guacamole). I know there are London real estate prices and the minimum wage to take into account, but honestly, £6 is too much to pay for a bit of broiler chicken wrapped in bread and salad. And don't even get me started on banh mi.
Anyway, deep breath. Mooli's, newly opened on Frith Street in Soho, serves what can best be described as an Indian meal in a wrap, containing staple meats such as pork, chicken and beef (and more recently goat) with Indian spices and vegetables all encased in a fresh roti. Given that it is a) brand-new and b) slightly exotic, the food blogs and foodie Twitterers have whipped themselves up into a virtual maelstrom of hype, and although I do try and keep an open mind on going anywhere new, it's fair to say my hopes were high.
Fortunately, it was nice - very nice in fact. I went for the goat option, and inside the perfectly moist roti was a healthy serving of goat alongside various chunks of roasted and fresh veg and a healthy but not overpowering kick of chilli. I particularly liked the tiny cubes of raw onion and the odd lump of velvety goat fat hiding within the richly flavoured and intelligently spiced shredded meat. I was also given a neat little parcel of baked popadums which made a perfectly good side, but although the spicy tomato and the mint yoghurt dips were very nice I really wasn't keen on the green chilli - very bland and flat, it was like eating wet grass.
So definitely not a wasted journey to Soho. I'm certain Mooli's will do very well given that they - for the moment at least - have a unique and genuinely tasty product, and I don't doubt the effort that owners Sam and Mathew have gone to to reproduce the street food of India under London's cold grey skies. I was slightly confused as to why my goat wrap cost a full £5 when the other meat options ranged from a more more acceptable £3.50 - £4, goat being what I thought was one of the cheaper meats you can buy. But it was very good, and while the novelty factor is still in play I'm pretty sure I'll be back. In fact the only major issue I have with Mooli's is that bloody apostrophe. Is Mooli a person and this is his restaurant? Is it short for "Mooli is"? Have a look at their website and see if you can work it out. Beggared if I know.