Shafi's Restaurant


Shafi's Restaurant
18 Gerrard Street
London, W1D 6
United Kingdom
Date began: 
01 Jan 1920

Shafi's Restaurant was established in the 1920s by two brothers, Yassim and Rahim Mohammed, who had come to study in Britain. They noticed a lack of Indian restaurants, bought a café and turned it into a restaurant. This, along with Veeraswamy's, was one of the first Indian restaurants established in Britain. The restaurant was a comforting home from home for lonely Indian students. The restaurant was taken over by Dharam Lal Bodua and managed by an Englishman who employed among others Israil Miah and Gofur Miah, who went on to run their own restaurants later.

Soon after her arrival in Britain in 1947, Attia Hosain went to Shafi's because it was a meeting point for Indians. It was patronised not only by fellow Indians but also English people, especially those who had served in the Raj.

Key individuals: 
Secondary works: 

Adams, Caroline, Across Seven Seas and Thirteen Rivers: Life Stories of Pioneer Sylhetti Settlers in Britain (London: THAP, 1987)

Basu, Shrabani, Curry in the Crown (London: Indus, 1999)

Basu, Shrabani, Curry: The Story of the Nation's Favourite Dish (Stroud: Sutton, 2003)

Choudhury, Yousuf, The Roots and Tales of the Bangladeshi Settlers (Birmingham: Sylheti Social History Group, 1993)

Collingham, E. M., Curry: A Biography (London: Chatto & Windus, 2005)

Grove, Peter, and Grove, Colleen, Curry Culture (London: Collins & Brown, 2003)

Hosain, Attia, 'Of Memory and Meals', in Antonia Till (ed.),  Loaves and Wishes: Writers Writing on Food (London: Virago, 1992), pp.141-6.

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)


From Attia Hosain, 'Of Memories and Meals', Loaves and Wishes: Writers Writing on Food, ed. by Antonia Till (London: Virago, 1992), 141-6


A description of Shafi's by one of its patrons.


I began to go more often to a restaurant called Shafi's because it was a rendezvous for Indians - visitors, expatriates and students alike. For all who came from a country where food and companionship went naturally together, Shafi's was like being back home. The owner was host, friend and confidant to all who came, whether to eat, or just to relax and talk.