Chai Ki is the little brother to the established Roti Chai restaurant in Marble Arch/Marylebone. Located in the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station, it’s a brilliant modern take on Indian classics that’s great for both a quick lunch with the team or a chill catch up with a friend. The décor is crisp and modern with enough character to set it apart from your typical suit haunt and the staff are friendly and always ready with a recommendation when asked.
What you need to know:
- The venue is surprisingly spacious so you can walk in with small groups but they do take reservations – useful as its quite popular with the lunch crowd
- Prices are reasonable with a very filling lunch being around £15pp including a soft drink
- Spice levels vary and most dishes have a bit of heat (except the paneer which is spicy!)
- The menu is split between sharing plates and mains but really it’s all very shareable
Food: ★★★★★ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
As with most places here, there isn’t much of a bar to gather a group but it’s a short walk from most pubs on the Wharf. Alternatively, there is a sports bar on the street level (Level 0) or if the weather is nice you can head up to the top of the Crossrail station and sit in the roof garden.
What to eat?
Well really it would be easier to tell you what not to eat. Or maybe not as I’ve enjoyed every dish I’ve tried on that menu (and I think I’ve almost tried them all). Rather than a long list of dishes, let’s hit the highlights of the two meals I’ve had there.
The Himalayan ribs are spectacular – I was introduced to Roti Chai through Ribstock and the ribs on offer at Chai Ki are a fitting continuation to the elder sibling’s legacy. Succulent meat that falls off the bone (and not apart in your hands) that’s beautifully spiced – I could eat this every day although it would give my GP a heart attack (and me too).
The calamari is also a winner with tender meat doused in a sticky sweet and spicy sauce. It’s a great dish to share and usually quite a crowd pleaser as are the Chicken Lollipops with the sour tamarind marrying well with the heat of the ginger.
I’m also a huge fan of the masala fries which is a bit of an odd one for an Indian restaurant but they do know how to fry a potato here. Basically, think Nandos fries cut a little thinner, fried a little crispier, and powdered with a seasoning that puts Nandos to shame. So yeah, they’re awesome.
The rest of the dishes are quite good although didn’t stand out as much. An order of chaat is a great one to balance out the rich flavours with its clean tangy citrus notes and the chicken tikkia naan remains one of the prettiest Indian dishes I’ve ever had.
Finally, get an order of the paratha (a fried layered flat bread) which is great to dip in the sauces or on its own and if you need some more spice then the burnt ginger rice has quite a kick.
I’ve never had room for a dessert so I unfortunately can’t say anything on that score (for once!).
What about a drink?
Cocktails wise, the Chai Ki Toddy is a slightly sweet yet very comforting drink that is more or less a boozy version of the omnipresent masala chai. For those that don’t like the boozes, the Kovalum Beach (guava, coconut, lychee, and ginger ale) was a favourite of several of my colleagues.
Worth the dosh?
Definitely. It’s quite reasonable for the quantity and quality of the food you get. While it’s probably not doable for a daily meal, it’s great for a work lunch and the good balance of meat and veggie dishes means that you can cater for almost everyone.