Six of One - Pass the Parotta
Chai Kadai and five other restaurants to try in London this week
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Six of One is a column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each newsletter, we send out a tip from six writers for six different restaurants, bakeries, cafes or takeaways that deserve to be better known.
You can find previous Six of Ones below:
Polentina and five other recommendations; Inihaw plus five; Kulcha Express plus five; Triple One Café plus five; Samak Seafood plus five; Lakehouse Hungarian; Restaurant plus five; Salteñas Martin plus five; Best Foods Supermarket plus five; Thenga Cafe plus five; Charcoal Champ plus five
Today’s recommendations are from Shekha Vyas, Gavin Cleaver, Isaac Rangaswami, Ed Fenwick, David Jesudason, and Angela Hui.
1. Chai Kadai
I first clocked this place through a friend’s Facebook story which was then reposted by the restaurant in one of the most enthusiastic ways I have ever seen. Close-up footage of a fluffy, crispy parotta parcel being unwrapped to reveal a steaming, delicious-looking curry within is already tempting enough. Set to the soundtrack of Madonna’s Four Minutes ft. Justin Timberlake: it’s practically a summons. A quick Insta check on the restaurant’s profile confirmed that since it opened in August, practically all of its content had similar hypeman vibes, which meant I obviously had to go.
The lowdown: Chai Kadai is a tiny Malayali-owned-and-run café on Plashet Road in Upton Park. It’s a teahouse with a twist; as well as kadak/karak chai, which is poured from cup to cup at great heights, there is a menu of fresh juices, South Indian snacks, shawarma (a filling for kottu wraps), Malabar-style biryanis and roasts. The energetic social media efforts, or word of mouth, are paying off: the place was packed on a Friday and the snacks were almost all gone, with the exception of banana fritters. Lightly caramelised, and the perfect mix of savoury and sweet, they’re a fitting accompaniment to a fiery and fragrant mutton roast.
Getting to the curry was like playing a game of pass the parcel. Cloaked in three parottas, which were, in turn, wrapped in a banana leaf, it comes with an egg and succulent pieces of chicken. The taste is mild and well-spiced, with a hint of coconut, moisture preserved by the careful casing. Definitely try the fruit juices. The freshly squeezed orange was an unexpectedly syrupy delight with just the correct dash of acid to temper the rich spice. Chai Kadai’s socials showcase daily specials, which may signify further developments to its (already substantial) fledgling menu: dishes like avoli (pomfret) masala and fresh appam are yet more reasons to check it out. Shekha Vyas
71 Plashet Rd, E13 0QA