The buzz: Indian vegetarian restaurants aren’t anything new, especially on the strip between Nana and Asoke BTS stations. Two things that set Indian Chaat apart are its location (on a quiet residential part of Sukhumvit Soi 23 and 31, nestled between the Robinson School of Music and Antonio’s) and the brief menu comprised exclusively of childhood favorites and comfort food dishes—none of the usual dahls, curries and kebabs. Oh, and a third thing: nothing is over B70. The décor: Pretty modest in this department, Indian Chaat is little more than a long room with a display of Indian sweets to the left, a row of tables for four to the right, and a mounted television playing instrumental versions of Bollywood hits. It’s all good, though—you wouldn’t want your chaats and your deep-fried Indian goodies in a five-star setting. The food: As the name suggests, the place does varieties of chaat (a tangy concoction of crunchy fritters, tamarind sauce, cilantro chutney and yogurt), with the classic option being papri chaat (deep-fried batter chips, diced potatoes, B50). There are some other deep-fried choices, like aloo tikki (potato patties, B40), paneer pakora (batter-fried cottage cheese with jalapenos, B70) and a rare find, bread pakora (soft white bread batter-fried in chick pea flour, B15 for a piece). Some heartier, though decidedly still street food-y options, include pao bhaji (bread buns with spicy mashed peas and potatoes, B60) and chholey bhature (chickpea curry with fried bread, B50). And don’t forget the display of sweets, including ras malai (B20) and gulab jamun (B15). The drinks: Sweet or salty lassi (B50), nimbu paani (sweet limeade, B40) and masala chai (spiced milk tea, B30) are the non-alcoholic highlights. The crowd: Mostly Indian hi-sos from the neighborhood. Mrigaa Sethi
Indian vegetarian places are overabundant in the Nana-Asoke neighborhood, so the fact that Indian Chaat is tucked away in a little sub-soi off 31 and has none of the aggressive sidewalk welcome and corny starched linen of its peers is a welcome change. The menu, too, has many dishes that while common on the streets of Delhi and Mumbai, are rarely seen on the menus of proper sit-down dinner places. Sadly, though, none of this has brought in the crowds, and with the exception of the occasional quiet pair of diners, the place remains empty, and the doting service tinged with a touch of desperation. The barebones and frankly sad décor (despite the pretty swank location—it’s just a stone’s throw from Narz and The Eugenia) is partly to blame. But it’s also the food, which just can’t compete in this cuisine’s very large market. The gol guppe (crispy fritters with a light potato and cumin water filling, B50) are very crispy and the cumin water delicious and spicy, but fireworks are impeded by the mass-produced tamarind chutney. The assorted pakoras (B70), too, suffer from a too-thick and floury batter that overshadows the vegetables inside. The mains fare a bit better, like the high-quality kidney beans used in the rajma masala curry (B90), the creamy and light Punjabi kadhi (yoghurt curry with dumplings, B90) and the zinging, but slightly overcooked, Chinese Hakka noodles (B100). The food is homey, to be sure, but fails to dazzle. Suppose you were sent away to study at a modest boarding school in an Indian hilltown, and were staying with the elderly headmaster and his wife, whose food was not nearly as good as your mom’s, but reasonably pleasant to come home to anyway—that’s what the food at Indian Chaat reminds us of. In Bangkok terms: if you needed a greasy, authentic-but-not-great, post-hangover pick-me-up that didn’t require putting on proper clothes, this is a perfectly sound and inexpensive option—even if you could find better elsewhere.
|Address:||Indian Chaat, (opposite Smart School and Silom Village), 59/4 Sukhumvit Soi 31, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Cuisine:||Indian, Vegetarian or Organic|
|Price Range:||B - BB|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 9am-8pm; Fri-Sun 9am-9pm|
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