Whenever I’ve got a Liverpool dinner date scheduled with somebody and they ask me where I’d like to eat, I always do that 60 seconds of polite um-ing and ah-ing that sounds like I’ve been sucking on a helium tank for too long. I shrug my shoulders 2-3 times and smile sweetly to make them think I’m leaving their options open and lull my partner in dine into a false sense of dining democracy…
I play this part well until Hangry Harriet starts to take over and then BAM, I make my move and coyly suggest, “well… we could always go to Mowgli…” and let me tell ya, it never fails. Probably because everybody I know loves this charming little corner of the Liverpool food and drink scene just as much as I do and here’s why I think Mowgli Street Food is such a resounding success:
The food, glorious Indian street food
The Yoghurt Chat Bomb has fast become a bit of a cult delicacy here in the North West of England and it’s all thanks to little Mowgli. Step over the glittering threshold here and you can expect to find an array of authentic Indian cuisine – no, not your greasy tikka masalas or peshwari naan so tough you could nail it to the sole of your shoe – Mowgli is the real mccoy. As the home of Tiffin, this place serves up good, honest Indian street food at it’s very best.
As a self-professed food blogger and sporadic restaurant critic at Liverpool Noise, I should probably be a little more intrepid when it comes to exploring the menus of my regular haunts but alas, I am a serial meal repeater. I pick the same thing over and over again at Mowgli because it’s just so damn good but I know from eyeballing others’ plates and sampling a taste or two when I drop hints hard enough that everything on the menu is magical in equal measures.
Okay so I know you’re waiting with bated breath now to hear what dishes have got me going doolally over here so please, let me divulge. From the Street Chat/Street Meats menu (which are basically akin to small plates, starters or sides) I typically go for the Treacle Tamarind Fries and (yes, and) the Gunpowder Chicken which is coated in a delicious, gluten free, chickpea batter. From The House Kitchen menu where you’ll find a plethora of incredible curries I either go for an almond, coconut and mustard seed House Chicken Curry or a rich and indulgent tomato-based Mother Butter Chicken curry.
Me being me, I always grab some basmati rice from the Carbs menu too, with all of the above coming served to the table in authentic twinkling tiffin boxes. If I’m feeling particularly spacious that day I’ll sip a Mango Lassi on the side but that baby is THICK and I sometimes prefer to leave room for a warm, fluffy, cardamom-spiced Chocolate Mowgli Cake instead. Perhaps not the most adventurous selections but I’m a stickler for scrumptiousness and I can vouch for the fact that the Himalayan Cheese Toast and the bread loaf Bunny Chow also make for an unmissable party in the mouth.
The narrative of nostalgia that the brand is built on
The raw wooden decor and exposed brick walls that give any Mowgli restaurant its attitude is a metaphor for the pure and virtuous foundations on which the brand established its roots. Filled to the brim with family recipes, straight from the kitchen of its founder’s ancestry, a trip to Mowgli always feels like a home from home – like you’re huddled around one big family dinner table. Perhaps it’s through following little Mowgli and her mother, Nisha Katona closely on social media but this is more than just a place to fill up, it’s a sanctuary for sharing where everbody feels welcome.
Mowgli currently has two plots on Liverpool land, one up on the cobbles of Bold Street in the city’s arts quarter where students, tourists and families alike wait eagerly for a table in the popular intimate eatery. The other is nestled in a quiet corner of Water Street in Liverpool’s business district and brings mature sophistication and an alluring elegance to the table. As far as I’m aware Bold Street is un-bookable so queues are more than likely (good things come to those who wait) but you can call and make a reservation at Mowgli Water Street which I would definitely recommend doing so.
If you’re from another nook or cranny of the UK and haven’t got a trip to Liverpool on the cards any time soon then have no fear. Mowgli does also have a beautiful restaurant in Manchester city centre and I believe the Mowgli minions are also in the process of building their brand new Leeds venue too. Each of the existing eateries has its own unique character and charm so I have no doubt that the next edition in the growing Mowgli empire will be just as spectacular.