12 September, 2018
Eat & Drink

Chaiwala: A Vibrant Indian Experience in the Heart of Central

12 September, 2018

Pirata Group’s newest opening, Chaiwala, offers modern Indian dining in a traditional and quirky setting.

District: Central, Hong Kong
Cuisine: Modern Indian cuisine
How much: Dishes range between $40 and $340, Dabbawala tasting menu $480pp
The Best For: A celebration with a twist
Must Order: Pani Puri with Jal-Jeera and the Magic Lamp cocktail
Sassy Tip: Sit in the ‘Kitchen’ for views of the tandoor oven and the chefs at work, or in the ‘Dining Room’ central table for a colourful, celebratory atmosphere.

Chaiwala (named after a person who prepares, sells or serves tea on streets or small roadside shops in India) opened in August 2018 and is the latest restaurant from Pirata Group – whose restaurants include the ever popular Pici, TokyoLima and Madame Ching. Inspired by the colourful hustle and bustle synonymous with India, Chaiwala is a modern and playful take on Indian dining. Entering through the unassuming red door on busy Wyndham street, diners can expect to make their way through British salon-style bar Hugger Mugger before entering Chaiwala.

chaiwala the kitchen

The restaurant is divided into three spaces: the ‘Chai Bar’ features a vintage Indian chai stand; the ‘Kitchen’ where diners can watch the chef’s in action and see the huge tradition tandoor ovens; and the ‘Dining Room’ with partitioned wooden walls and a stunning central table.

chaiwala dining room

We ate in the ‘Dining Room’ beneath the ceiling installation of strips of fabric and strings of traditional trinkets and bells, which give a celebratory and special atmosphere to the room. Presentation was clearly key when developing the concept for Chaiwala, as reflected in the unique interiors – such as the vintage matchboxes built into the table, the witty messages on the fire escape, the cocktails accompanied by their own bird cages and the delicate food styling.

chaiwala cocktail

To start the evening  I tried the playfully named Punjab Cadillac Colada ($120) which was served in a beautifully glazed vase style glass. However, the star of the table was the Magic Lamp ($120) cocktail (consisting of Butter washed Plantation 3 stars rum, banana, citrus mix, dill, all spice and sage) and served in a genie style lantern.

Crafted by Culinary Director Chef Bala, the food menu consists of small and large sharing style plates and is divided into six sections which spans across the whole of Indian. For those who want to try a bit of everything (like us!), you can opt for the Dabbawala Menu, which includes a selection of Chaiwala signatures and Chef’s favourites for $480 per person.

chaiwala puri

chaiwala pani puri

We started our meal with some Bhelpuri and Pani Puri. As a vegetarian, I opted for the classic potato and channa (chickpea) filling over the chicken tika for my Pani Puri – which is in a golfball sized crisp puri basket – and comes with a refreshing Jal-Jeera, spiced water. The instructions are simple: pour the water into the puri and eat it one mouthful. The execution was not so simple but it did make for a fresh and flavourful, if not unflattering challenge.

I then enjoyed Paneer 3 Ways ($160) which featured a classic paneer tikka, basil paneer and cheese marinated paneer kebab. My favourite was the vibrant green basil paneer – but that didn’t stop me trying them all again just to make sure! Other delicious vegetarian options include Malai Broccoli ($120), a whole broccoli with a subtly spiced tamarind sauce, Punjabi Chole (indian chickpeas) and plenty of Truffle Nan ($140). The truffle nan with the paneer was a particularly comforting mouthful.

Other guests tried the succulent looking ‘T.L.C’ Tandoori Lamb Chops ($310), with a papaya, chilli and black pepper marinade, along with Bala’s Fish Pakoras ($220), which is an Indian take on fish and chips. If you’re feeling decadent you should also try the Lobster Nerulli ($390), which features charred lobster with South Indian spices, lobster claw rice and vegetable poriyal  (fried greens).

chaiwala panna cotta

If you can save space for dessert, I tried the Bollywood style, Cardamon Panna Cotta and pinched one of a friend’s Gulab Jamun (spiced milk balls). As with all the dishes at Chaiwala the presentation of the panna cotta was beautiful with delicate mango salad, crumb, edible flowers and just the right amount of wobble; but the warm sugar of the Gulab Jamun with mint syrup and caramelised pistachios was melt in the mouth delicious.

The interiors and transportive experience evoked by the flavours at Chailwala is like stepping inside a treasure trove of Indian treats. So much so I was reluctant to exit back into bustle of LKF. However, when you do leave, you exit through the bar Hugger Mugger which serves a cocktail menu of drinks inspired by British icons such as David Attenborough and Banksy – perfect for continuing the evening late into the night.

Chaiwala, Basement, No. 43-55, Wyndham Street, Central, www.chaiwala.hk


Featured image courtesy of Chaiwala, image #2 and #3 courtesy of Daisy Dudley and property of Sassy Media Group, image #4 courtesy of Chaiwala, image #5 courtesy of Daisy Dudley and property of Sassy Media Group, image #6 courtesy of Chaiwala, image #7 courtesy of Daisy Dudley and property of Sassy Media Group

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top
Happy Easter Hong Kong 🍫. You'll find us beneath this pile of mini eggs. What's your chocolate treat of choice? Comment below 👇.⁣
#sosassy #sassyhongkong #eatser⁣
Home Kong 😍. We never tire of your taxis and towers. ⁣
Who's hanging out in the city this weekend? Head to #sassyhongkong events calendar to find out what's on.⁣
📷 @teawithhummingbirds⁣
#sosassy #sassyhongkong #homekong #explorehongkong
Who's travelling this Easter weekend? Team Sassy certainly are. Tag us in your travel snaps to let us know how far you've flung and look out on our Instagram stories for a sneak peek into how we're vacation and staycation-ing. Happy Holidays 😎⁣
#sosassy #homekong #explorehongkong #sassytravels #travelgram #travelgoals⁣
*Happy Hour Deals in Hong Kong: Where to Drink in Sheung Wan* has been updated just in time for the long weekend. You're welcome 🍻. Read on #sassyhongkong now.⁣
#sosassy #homekong #explorehongkong #hkhappyhours⁣
🚨 NEW VIDEO ALERT 🚨 *Your Neighbourhood Guide to Poho* is now up on #sassyhongkong. Link in stories!

#sosassy #sassyhongkong #homekong #poho #explorehongkong #igworld #hkig #instahk
Wondering where to head for an authentic taste of Thailand? *The Best Thai Restaurants In Hong Kong* been updated in our Eat & Drink section on #sassyhongkong. ⁣
#sassytastes #sosassy #thaifood #hkeats⁣
What's your favourite spot for free-flow brunch?⁣
Favourite junk company?⁣
Favourite Hong Kong staycation hotel?⁣
*Vote for a chance to win a two-night stay in Koh Samui, courtesy of @theluxenomad.*⁣
The Sassy Best of Hong Kong Reader Awards are back for 2019 and we want to hear all about your favourite spots in the 852! Tell us everything from your favourite bar, free-flow brunch and restaurant, to your top yoga studio and regular spa for a chance to win a two-night stay for you and up to 15 (yes, you read right!) friends at Inasia, a luxury villa in Koh Samui. Head to the link in our bio to get voting.⁣
#sassyhongkongreaderawards #bestofhongkong #sosassy #sassyhongkong #homekong⁣
📷@danielcgold + @from_this_position
💄Your closet isn’t the only thing that could do with a spring clean! *5 Fresh Beauty Looks To Try This Spring* is up on #sassyhongkong. Let us know which ones you try 👇.⁣
#sosassy #sassyhongkong #glossyeye #beautytrends #ss19⁣