Six of One 9/6/2023
Kulcha Express and five other recommendations
Good morning and welcome to Vittles Restaurants!
A Vittles subscription costs £5/month or £45/year. If you’ve been enjoying the writing then please consider subscribing to keep it running — it will give you access to the whole Vittles back catalogue — including Normal Country, London restaurant guides and all new columns.
Six of One is a new column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each newsletter, we send out six tips from six writers for six different restaurants, bakeries, cafes or takeaways that deserve to be better known.
You can find previous Six of One’s below:
Todays recommendations are from Ciaran Thapar, Fatima Pabani, Kate Ng, Rohan Jones, Jonathan Nunn and Alex Douglas.
1. Kulcha Express Hayes (and Roots Dhaba)
On a recent Friday evening, I was picked up in a BMW E46 convertible by Hark1karan, the main man behind the film Zimmers of Southall. I felt smug riding shotgun, the sun setting against a cloudless sky dotted with planes taking off from Heathrow, speeding west down the M4 blaring a blend of jungle, jazz and hip hop, headed to the Hayes branch of Kulcha Express.
Kulcha Express is the sort of South Asian dining establishment I love most: essentially, it’s a café, but with an extensive, specialist food menu that signals the prestige of a restaurant. Like most of these establishments, it has a small dining area with small tables and is surrounded by a bustling strip of competitors waiting for your custom outside if you leave disappointed. The Hayes branch is much the same as the other five, except for the blend of classic cars parked on the street and lion-adorned kambal blankets drying on the metal fire escape railings that is unique to Punjabi west London. Most people are here for the kulcha thalis: bread stuffed with fillings like potato, cauliflower and onions, accompanied by a rich, brown bowl of chana sprinkled with finely-chopped red onions, next to a side of less-finely-chopped red onions, Irish butter, raita and mixed achar. But the surprise was the Amritsari fish, the best I’ve eaten in the UK, with batter that was golden and crispy like honeycomb.
Great food should be prologue to a great night, and from Kulcha Express we drove to a dub event at the nearby Brook House Football Club, thrown by the Sikh Punjabi-run, Southall-based sound system Vedic Roots, who are playing their part in upholding west London’s reputation as a reggae music hub. In memory of the late Jah Shaka, I skanked to break in my new leather Peshawari chappal and work off my feast, before ordering a generous box of papri chaat made by the selector’s parents under the fitting brand name Roots Dhaba. Take me back, now. Ciaran Thapar
592 Uxbridge Rd, UB4 0RY