MISTER CHAI – CHAI HO JAYE
The chai bug has been catching on crazily, and I have had the pleasure of visiting many new establishments.
Mister Chai, the new tea lounge at Shangri-La Eros just blew me away!
The interiors take your breath away. And that’s half the battle won as far as I am concerned. It puts you in a happy place instantly.
So I sat myself down in a comfy lounge chair at a well-appointed table, right beside the lovely tea wall. I have a picture below; it was so eye-catching. I had made up my mind to have some soothing jasmine tea or something –with teacakes for accompaniment. But what greeted me in the menu was an onslaught to the senses, a jolt to my chai sensibilities, which completely shook me out of my blasé expectations. Corn Bhel, Butter Chicken Samosa, Lamb Vada Pav! What was happening here? There was no way I wasn’t going to sample all of this, so out the window went all plans for dainty teacakes and we planned to just go all out with the quintessential chaiexperience the Indian way with surprising twists to every dish.
Needless to say, all of the above were ordered along with some really interesting tava style sandwiches. And yes, the chai – masala chai. So the chai arrives in an interesting wooden cabinet, in a copper teakettle. The cups are actually the cutting chai style glasses, only in a much prettier ceramic blue, served up in the classic sectioned tray like chaiwalah’s have. This was accompanied by rusk and farsaan in copper tiffin boxes! Full points for presentation already. I was floored. There was none of the usual dull teapot in the picture! The service staff is well trained to present things in the most exquisite manner onto the table.
The food was another story. The bhel arrived in a tiny copper balti, the various kinds of vada pavs came with a shot of chutney pierced right through them and the sandwiches cut square so like on the street vendors. It was an entirely unexpected and very pleasant presentation. The taste was matchless. Every thing had a distinct, refined flavor. Every mouthful was bliss. What an amazing combination of very essentially Indian flavors, a juxtaposition of chai stall snacks with more global palette pleasers, combining of favorites such as samosa with butter chicken. This had turned out to be one of my best jaunts ever. I must admit, Corporate Chef Neeraj Tyagi with his team has done wonders with the menu. Full marks to him already. I met him for a small talk, but he had so much to tell and portray out of passion and love for his work that I was almost floored.
We did round up the experience with a selection of the most sinful chocolates, macarons and cakes on offer at their exquisite bakery, and yes the jasmine tea did make an experience because we just needed to calm down after an explosion of such beautiful and varied flavors.
Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, 19,
Ashoka Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi