31 Bell Lane
Tel: 020 7247 7145
Tucked away in the tiny streets of old Whitechapel sits a worthy homage to Indian street food, Inito. With a very on trend interior of modern industrial fused with retro Indian, long benches and produce on display this is a kaleidoscope of colour and beautiful smells the moment you walk in.
Chef Saurav Nath of the Michelin starred Benares fame has set up shop in Bell Lane offering authentic street food that is to die for. It’s full of young dudes who know which side their chapatti is buttered.
This is where the new movers and shakers of this hip part of London are hanging out. Mark my words this place although only opened a couple of months ago is going to be a big hit.
My visit was late on a Tuesday evening and the place was quite busy. The friendly staff, (we were served by Idalina) that can’t do enough for you, they find you a table, then all you have to do is watch the food go by to other tables and try and work out what it is and order it. Everything we tasted (and we tried a lot)! Was without exception superb. The freshness of the ingredients and colour and presentation was a breadth of fresh air.
First up were little puffed up balls of popadoms with a small filling of vegetable (these were tiny, think flying saucer sweet size) and a hole in the top for you to pour in ‘coriander water’ a fiery tasty liquid. These are to be eaten in one go otherwise it gets a bit messy as M found out!
The aloo papri, pani puri and bhel puri were all served with aplomb and looked a treat. The food is spiced and very tasty served, as they are ready, it is perfect for sharing. On a table next to us a family was having their supper with two little ones tucking in with gusto, they had the feeling of being regulars.
The star of this first wave of food was undoubtedly the chicken lollipop-wings. These beauties had a very crunchy outer coating that positively crunches in the mouth and has a hot chilli and garlic dip to keep you on your toes. They were simply delightful to eat (I bet you order more if you go).
The tandoori section of the menu threw up two big hitters one packed with flavour the other so subtle it was sublime. Marinated in Awadhi spices the lamb chops just melted in the mouth, they had a soft consistency and boomed with flavour. The fish tikka was an exercise in restraint. The perfectly cooked fish cocooned in a light crisp batter that sang freshness.
The food here is so good I can see Saurav opening a few more branches anytime soon. Dalston, Shoreditch, Hoxton etc would all love this kind of authenticity and dedication to flavour. But why stop there I think he should open up all over town (especially in South London where I live please).
A bit of theatre in the form of a lamb biryani cooked the traditional way with a pastry crust on top to keep in all the flavour was another highlight. Caraway seeds peppered the lid and the venting steam that escaped as the crust was cut filled our table with the most incredible aroma. This was a deep tasting hearty dish that is a meal in itself.
Part of what Saurav is doing here is to provide good food for lunchtime diners who work nearby. Roti rolls seem to be the most popular with a selection of meats, salads and sauces to combine it’s possible to have something different every day for a month. They are very large and great value at £5.95.
There is a specials board as well and I couldn’t help myself and tried the charmingly named lamb taka tak, which Saurav tells me translates to chopped lamb. Needless to say it tasted great.
The desserts are limited to just four. We chose rose garden cardamom kulfi and garam masala chocolate fondant with Horlicks ice cream. M found the ice cream a touch too sweet but I thought it was about right and although it looked liked raspberry ripple it tasted of roses! The chocolate pudding (one of the real tests for any chef worth their salt) was another triumph. The chocolate flowed freely as it was cut open. Saurav stayed to watch to make sure it did! Adding garam masala is an interesting take on the classic and it certainly makes it less sweet and rather grown up and the Horlicks adds a malty note.
Along with an impressive collection of soft drinks they have a considered wine list and here’s a novel thing with the exception of two bottles of bubbly the wines are all priced the same at £22.50. So you just have to decide on your preference of grape – genius. My Primitivo di Salento Doppio Passo was superb.
Saurav and his team run a jolly ship that will become a monster success any day soon. The charm and relaxed atmosphere of Inito is quite infectious. People were smiling in this restaurant, in my experience people don’t do that very often when they eat out. So my advice is get yourself down to Whitechapel and bag a table before there are queues around the corner.