By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Come for the Indian street food, but stay for the party atmosphere
At first glance, I did not expect to like Hitchki, in Barsha Heights’ Grand Millennium Hotel. For one, it is part of a chain, which in my cynical mind suggested that it might be a ‘cookie-cutter’ attempt to transplant an Indian favourite to Dubai – an approach that never works particularly well.
Then, I tried it – and now I’m a believer. The name ‘Hitchki’ - Hindi for ‘hiccup’ – stems from an old Indian tale that hiccups occur when someone remembers you. This restaurant lives up to that – from the moment one walks in, it’s memorable, with a retro motorcycle in the entrance signalling a journey back into the Mumbai of the 1960s.
Once inside, guests are greeted with a lively atmosphere that immediately takes one back to the Bollywood movies of old. The restaurant’s shelves and tables, for example, are tastefully adorned with antiques such as typewriters, gramophones, old radios or even rotary telephones. The scene, one immediately imagines, wouldn’t be out of place at a gentleman’s club immediately post-independence.
In Dubai, of course, an Indian restaurant’s food needs to be superb to stand out amid stiff competition – and Hitchki doesn’t disappoint. While it feels familiar, the menu is a twist on traditional Mumbai favourites. The vegetarian Aao Kabhi Debeli Pe starter, for example, is Hitchki’s take on the traditional Indian Vada Pav – a deep fried potato dumpling inside a bread bun – served with rola cola and pudina chutney.
In fact, most items on the menu get their names from the titles of popular Bollywood hits or Indian popular culture. The ‘All Izz Bhel’ – which stems from the film ‘3 idiots – is a Chinese-tinted version of the spicy noodle street side snack. The restaurant also offers a number of ‘bao’ dishes, such as bus kar chicken, which is comprised of butter chicken, makhani, cashew and cheeslings.
The menu’s standout items are its mains, which range from ‘mere pass ma hai’ - butterly dhal makhani slow cooked over 12 hours – to ‘teen guna schezwan’ – fried rice, hakka and crisp noodles with wok veggies and schezwan egg with chicken. Meat lovers would be well advised to try the 'galti se mis' steak – an Indianised version of a ‘surf and turf’ with red-eye steak, shrimp, roasted zam, zucchini pappardelle and rasberry jus.
The restaurant’s prime draw, however, is likely to be the atmosphere. While enormous in terms of space by Dubai standards, the locale feels cozy, as if one were at a house party with friends. When Arabian Business went recently, it was ‘Bollywood Night’ at Hitchki, with throngs of jovial young professionals belting out the latest hits and burning up the dance floor.
Additionally, the staff manage the difficult task of being extremely attentive without being pushy, happy to answer the questions of a befuddled non-Indian wanting to know the details of every dish.
A night out at Hitchki isn’t what one might call ‘chill’. It’s a party atmosphere that will have you grooving until the wee hours of the morning – and it’s worth it. Between the food and the setting, there are few restaurants in Dubai that manage to bring a street food vibe indoors with such success.For all the latest gourmet news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.