This week we had the pleasure of trying out Pirata Group’s latest Hong Kong addition Chaiwala. Centered around modern Indian cuisine, the entrance to this quirky little establishment isn’t so straightforward.
The address: 43-55 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong.
This leads you to a big blue bright door that says Hugger Mugger. Wait… what?!?! But I’m looking for Chaiwala, how do I get in?!
Actually, this big bright blue door is the only way you’ll get through. As you enter through Hugger Mugger (a British salon perfect for your after work cocktails), you’ll be guided into the vibrant & quirky Chaiwala that sits hidden behind the salon. (We didn’t have enough time to try out the cocktails on this occasion).
Once in, welcome to a British-India kind of feel. Waiters are dressed in western suits (minus the blazers), but the decor feels intimately romantic, yet with a rustic and bustling feel.
As for the food, many of the dishes are designed for sharing, and as we had quite a large group (around 7 of us) we went for around 4 appetizers and 5 mains + some truffle naan & rice. They also have a tasting menu for HKD$480* per person (*prices subject to change) that requires the whole table to participate.
Subz Potli Samosa – vegetable samosas, lotus stem crisp, mint & tamarind chutney
Mexi-Thali (3 pieces) – which are Indian tortillas. There’s a vegetarian option with cottage cheese, but we went for the beef sukkha one with slow-cooked beef, Southern Indian spices, coconut & curry leaf.
Aloo Tikka Chaat – spiced potato cakes, curried peas, Bombay sev, tamarind chutney, honey yoghurt. This was quite yummy, it was appetizing and the sauce that accompanied it had great minty & tangy flavours.
Bombay Fried Chicken – crisp fried boneless chicken thighs, tossed with spice mix & curry leaf, pickled tomato mayonnaise. This one is an absolute must try! The thighs were so tender and the flavour was really appetizing!
Paneer Lasagna Makhni – grilled cottage cheese, aubergine & green peas, layered, silky tomato sauce.
To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a traditional Indian dish, but you can definitely give this one a miss. At some point it felt like it was spam almost, but there was nothing special about this and was just really basic.
Tandoori Lamb Chops – the flavour was definitely there, but the lamb felt quite charred and not so exciting. It was okay, not bad but not amazing.
Kerala Fish Curry – sea bass, simmered in a coconut & ginger sauce, raw mangoes, curry leaves.
Old Dehli Butter Chicken – The type of butter chicken I’m used to back home in Australia (where you can get pretty authentic food from locals that have migrated to Australia), is more tomato based & creamy. We found both the fish curry & butter chicken relatively spicy (and I am someone who can take spice) which basically covered the traditional creamy and heartwarming aroma’s that butter chicken is typically supposed to exhibit.
Truffle naan – definitely eye catching due to the truffle slices but in reality lacked a bit of flavour. I think using truffle oil or bits might help add some taste?!
Saag paneer (not featured) – this version wasn’t so creamed like other places. It felt more like spinach + cottage cheese, rather than a proper concoction. Overall it wasn’t too bad.
Though some of the mains definitely left me terribly confused, there’s other dishes I would go back to Chaiwala for to give a try such as the Coorgi pork belly Masala, tandoori chicken or beef rogan rib-eye. I’m definitely not a fan of the fact they made the curries so spicy, because it was like as if they just added chilli type? Not a natural kind, and typically Indian curries tend to be mild anyways.
That being said, I’m definitely willing to give Chaiwala another try (and other dishes) and like I mentioned some of the starters (Bombay Fried Chicken & Aloo Tikka Chaat) were amazing so I’m sure Pirata Group will surprise us on the other dishes!
What Pirata Group has done exceptionally well with their latest additions (Madame Ching & Chaiwala in particular) is really add a layer of authenticity to the whole experience. (I really loved Madame Ching!).
While I am not entirely sold on the flavours of the curries being served by Chaiwala, I do think they do an amazing job in immersing you within a very traditional & authentic Indian environment.
Any recommendations on dishes you’ve tried at Chaiwala? Other foodie recommendations or things to do in HK? Check this out for ideas!
Basement, 43-55 Wyndham Street
Phone: +852 2362 8988
Address in local language: 中環雲咸街43-55號地庫