Going to Shangri-La, always becomes a nostalgic experience for me, not because of the hotel itself, but because of the group it belongs to, the Eros group. This is because in very initial years of career I got an opportunity to work with Parkroyal Hotel by the same group, which is now known as Eros Intercontinental, and somewhere I still feel connected to it, so even though Shangri-La had not opened then, its belonging to Eros group, gives me that sense of a mutual connect.
Now coming to Mister Chai, its a newly opened tea restaurant at Shangri-La, and its appropriately located right in the middle of the hotel lobby.I have been to Shangri-La a lot of times in the past, and hence can vouch for the fact that this place in the lobby which earlier served just as a lounge, is completely revamped. The look and feel, the interiors, the menu, everything is new and thats what makes it very very exciting to visit.
Mister Chai is a unique concept that has been curated to give patrons a local ‘tea shop feel’ focusing on regional Indian street food and beverages with a strong focus on tea.
Conceptualized by the renowned Dubai based interior design company – Stickman Designs, Mister Chai is an intimate and relaxed space
Beveled antique mirror walls add depth and open up this subtle space. Brass shelving has been suspended delicately from the ceiling, displaying the unique varieties on offer. Each feature adds its own distinctive character to create the perfect ambience for guests to relax and savour the delicacies on offer.
Unlike a conventional tea lounge, Mister Chai is a dining destination in its own right. Popular Indian street food has been re-invented and presented in exceptional style. Experienced and talented Chefs under the guidance of Executive Chef, Neeraj Tyagi have collaborated to design a menu that is as creative as it is well thought out.
To start with we were the ‘Chai Ki Tapri’, which consists of the traditional Cutting Chai, Meri Apni Cutting and Kadak Masala Chai and provide the quintessential Indian Chai experience.
The beverage menu also consists of other drinks like Black Teas, Green Teas, Oolong Teas and Herbal Teas, Regional Teas as well as a selection of Iced Teas and other drinks like Neembu Lemon, Ginger Punch and Coffees, both hot and cold.
With the chai, we got a ‘Tin of Rusks’, a perfect crispy accompaniment that completes the road side tea drinking feel in an amazingly plush environment.
There was also a ‘Namkeen ka Dabba ’, which is also considered to be the famous Indian savory teatime snack, comprising of Chakli, Curry Patta Peanuts, Channa Jor Garam giving our palate the perfect flavourful punch.
Along with the tea, we also ordered a ‘Masala Chaas’ and ‘Ginger Punch’. Both the drinks were equally refreshing.
The next in menu was the ‘Corn Bhel’, the perfect fusion of bhel puri taste with a twist of corn as the main ingredient. It was truly amazing. I loved every bite of it and even loved the small cute bucket it was presented in.
The ‘Wow Pao’ is a modern take on the native Maharashtran snack consisting of aperitifs such as the Goan Chorizo Pao, Shikampuri Pao or even the classic Vada Pao. Each and every variety of the Wow Pao was actually wow, there is no better word than this to describe it.
The most interesting thing these paos come with is these droppers filled with chutneys, inserted right in the middle of the pao, just press it and enjoy.The next was Dahi Puri,written as SPDP in the menu, which was so mouth watering to look at, that I just could not resist them, they tasted perfect and took me to the chowpatty of Juhu instantly.
Continuing with the Maharashtran inspired relishes, the next was ‘Colaba Fish Fry Sandwich’. From the entire menu items tasted so far, this was the best. The fish was crunchy, crispy, mouth melting and tasted amazing sandwiched in the middle of a soft bread.
Still continuing the Mumbaiya flavours, the next to taste was some Kaanda Bhajiya and Mumbai Sandwiches called the MTDC, and believe you me, I have practically lived in out of Mumbai for 8 years and know the taste of local street food very well, I have tried making this Kaanda Bhajiya at home many times, it comes to be good, but still doesn’t taste the way it does at Chowpatty in Mumbai, but Mister Chai, amazed me. They have truly mastered the local flavours with their own twists and created an excellent menu. I have been missing going to Mumbai for a few months now, but guess the need to satiate my craving for Mumbai street food can now be met at Mister Chai. The sandwiches too were just too perfect and had that flawless local flavour.
Now was the time for our very own Samosa with a twist. Being a cook myself and trying new things, experimenting with food, I have made Samosas with different fillings, like cottage cheese, chicken, keema etc. but still never tried or heard of ‘Butter Chicken Samosa’. This Samosa was just too good to be described in words, I loved it, relished it and still crave for more.
There was the regular samosa as well, with potato filling, and was nice too, but another show stealer here was the ‘Chilly Cheese Samosa’. It was just too good, a samosa filled with goodness of gooey cheese, just wonderful.
These Samosas again came with cute syringes filled with chutneys, you could inject theme directly into the samosa, your plate or even your mouth 😉
The menu also has a section called the ‘Firangi Twist’ which helps cater to the most discerning of palates, comprising of noteworthy dishes such as Chocolate Toast which is toasted brioche bread layered with melted Cadbury silk chocolate, Chicken Khurchan Tacos comprising of slowly cooked chicken, guacamole, tomato chutney and garlic yoghurt all wrapped in a roti. I tried the Chicken Khurchan Tacos and must admit that the twist of taco as a roti was simply amazing, it was a chicken taco and yet not completely videshi, it still retained our Indian essence.
Further into the menu, Mister Chai offers its patrons an assortment of elegant pastries, macaroons, and handcrafted chocolates imbued with regional flavours. A few of the signature chocolates are Paantastic which is an ivory White Chocolate enriched with Saffron blended with Gulkand, sweet Anise Seeds and Cardamom, Mango Bite in which Aam Papad and Passionfruit puree is blended with White Chocolate in a Milk Chocolate shell among other hand crafted chocolates.
I tried the chocolate macaroon, which was awesome, I could have eaten a few more of them, but I resisted the temptation.
I tried the different flavoured chocolates and have to say that all of them were simply mind blowing, loved each one of them, but coffee crunch is going to be my favourite.
We also tried the black forest pastry and it wasn’t the regular types at all, it was different in every sense possible and is very difficult to describe it in words. There was another fruit pastry which was wrapped in a white chocolate cup and it too tasted amazing.
Great food, fantastic ambience, and top class service is what we expect from any five star, but giving us authentic flavours of regional street food, in a classy atmosphere is truly remarkable for a even a 5 star to deliver, and kudos to the team at Mister Chai for doing so. Its really commendable and very very highly recommend. Must must try. Simply loved it.