The latest addition to the blue-chip food court that is Canary Wharf’s Crossrail Place, Chai Ki is the new venture from Roti Chai founder Rohit Chugh. Ostensibly inspired by the coastal drinking dens of South India, there’s little of the Kerala boozer about its hip post-industrial design flourishes, unless they’ve got the exposed pipework-and-reclaimed-wood memo, too.
The cavernous, dimly lit space is divided up into the ‘Toddy Shop’, the bar out front populated with high tables and a rowdy, post-work ambience, and the more stylish restaurant overlooking the Thames. Like its sister venue, the menu at Chai Ki takes its inspiration from Indian street food, although it augments its smaller plates with larger, more substantial dishes. The Butter Chicken, with its disarmingly rich sauce, is an obvious standout. The house beer, a chai-spiced pilsner, serves as a much-needed palate cleanser (and if you arrive on a Monday, you can enjoy a beer-and-food pairing menu, with brews courtesy of a revolving cast of British craft breweries). For those craving a cocktail, the Chai and Orange Martini will do its bit to transport you to those much-referenced street food shacks on the Malabar coast. Or at least, somewhere that isn’t Canary Wharf.