In Hong Kong’s ever-changing dining scene, where restaurants so readily fall foul of high rents, shifting fads and fickle appetites, Bombay Dreams is truly a rarity. Unpretentious and understated, its delicious, authentic Indian fare has nevertheless held epicureans in sway for almost two decades. Now, this stalwart of the SAR’s competitive F&B industry has embarked on the next chapter of its journey, moving just a short distance to a new location in Central’s Winning Centre.
The restaurant, which was originally founded in 2003 by Sandip Gupta, is now managed by S&S Hospitality, a new firm spearheaded by Gupta and his partner that operates 11 other restaurants in the city. In spite of his expansive portfolio, however, Bombay Dreams holds a special place in his heart as the first outlet he ever opened.
Speaking of its evolution over the years, he explains: “When we first launched Bombay Dreams, it was right after SARS, so it was challenging to say the least. Then, we weathered the global financial crisis of 2007, followed by the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years. Through it all, we strove to deliver Indian food of the highest calibre, and were fortunate to be rewarded with a loyal following of diners.”
Reflecting on its long-lived success, Gupta muses: “Honestly, I don’t think it would have been possible without the passion of myself and the entire team. Many of our staff here now were with us from our earliest days, and I believe that the loyalty and trust we’ve built over the years have allowed us to persevere through every challenge. I don’t think there’s any hidden secret or short cut to our success. At the end of the day, it’s all about hard work, patience and determination.”
Boasting a larger square-footage than its previous locale, the new interiors are awash with red and gold accents, while an abundance of natural light imparts a welcome airiness. The alcoholic offerings, too, have been upgraded to feature an expansive wine list and India-inspired cocktails, as well as an impressive whisky wall. That’s not to say, however, that equal emphasis hasn’t been placed on the food menu, as our own tasting revealed.
To kick things off, we sampled an appetiser of Palak Patta Chaat. This contemporary take on the beloved Indian street food sees a deep-fried spinach leaf replace the traditional crackers as the base layer. Featuring boiled potatoes and green beans topped with yoghurt and tamarind sauce, it was refreshing and addictive in equal measure.
Then came Shahi Galouti Kebab, a dish that was originally commissioned by an ancient, ageing Lucknow ruler who wished to enjoy his favourite meat in a style that required less chewing. Wonderfully spiced without being overwhelming, the lamb kebabs in this rendition were all melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Next up were two mains that had been painstakingly cooked in Bombay Dreams’ ginormous tandoor ovens: Adrakh Ke Panje and Tandoori Pomfret. The former is fronted by marinated lamb chops that were sous vide for five hours before finishing in the tandoor. Its fall-off-the-bone texture was delightfully tender, with an added dash of lemon juice bringing a welcome acidity.
The fish dish, meanwhile, was similarly succulent. Sampling bites with each of the various condiments – mint chutney, lemon, and fresh and pickled onions – gave every mouthful a different flavour. Keep in mind, though, that this fish is bone-in, so diners, ageing or not, would be wise to proceed carefully.
With scarcely any room left, we dove into the concluding course, a dessert of Gajar Ka Halwa. An amalgam of shredded carrots, sugar and milk slow cooked to a mushy consistency, this is a dish – much like many Indian desserts – that will satiate even the sweetest of tooths.