By: Shivangi Singha
Before I tell you what I think of Chai Point and share my observations with you about the restaurant chain, what it offers and how it may further enhance its leadership role which it has already assumed in the highly competitive and emerging chai niche, let me first share with you what the company’s CEO, an MBA Graduate from none other than the Harvard Business School, has to say about his dynamic startup:
Colleagues, friends and families meet day-in & day-out in our stores over a glass of Chai. These are events in the real world where our customers genuinely decide to meet and share their love of Chai. We realize that through a simple glass of Chai we touch lacs of our customers. And this is the just the beginning. We know we can reach crores more and enable an amazing array of human connections. We love this!
What the company’s founder and CEO, Amuleek Singh Bijralin, in all his humility, has omitted to mention is that chai is merely the tip of the chaiberg for the restaurant chain. The o’derves, snacks and appetizers Chai Point serves rivals the finest menus from upscale restaurants today. Here is a quick take on my experience with the best discussion saved for the last:
It goes without saying that chai or tea is the true essence of India. Very few Indians commence their day without indulging in a cup of tea and a biscuit or two regardless of whether they live in our country or have chosen to transcend its geographical boundaries to points far and wide on our planet in search of greener pastures. We rarely have coffee breaks. We call a few moments of untimed indulgence and tranquility tea breaks.
There are many coffee shops in the city ranging from Cafe Coffee Day to Starbucks. However, they cater primarily to the coffee drinking segment of the country which is actually a minuscule segment of India’s vast non-alcoholic hot beverage consuming market. What was actually missing from the market were tea shops– outlets that sell authentic tea, prepared in a healthy and HACCP proof environment, proper outlets that follow the ISO 22000 quality and operational guidelines to the core with neatly articulated and pre-defined processes and procedures.
Chai Point commenced its operations in the winter of 2010 in Bangalore. They have now expanded beyond India’s Silicon Valley to Delhi NCR. I recently had the opportunity to visit Chai Points most recent outlet in The Mall of India, located in sector 18, Noida. I tasted quite a few delicacies on their new menu and also some of the all time favs.
The restaurant is comfortable and cozy in terms of area, with space for only two or three tables at best. That said, customers usually prefer to grab their cup of chai or other beverages and stroll around the mall to take in the sights and sounds of what can be best described as one of the most beautiful malls in the city. The interiors at Chai Point have been appointed tastefully and with meticulous attention to minor detail. The restaurant has an up mood ambience with bright hues and shades complementing the experience. I specially loved the concept of the cup shaped lights. The walls are adorned with an attractively elegant embroidery print. The effort to capture the proverbial “ethnic touch” has been extremely successful.
ON THE MENU
An extensive array of small bites welcomed me in the first round. Just about all the snacks that go really well with tea are on the menu. For instance, they had a small bite sized samosa with butter chicken filling inside which sure did justice to the palate. With a view to making it a tad healthy and nutritious, bajra (pearl millet) is used to prepare the samosa’s external layer. The snack is prepared with two of my favorite delights– samosas and butter chicken. If you are anything like me, a single helping is in no way going to satiate your taste buds.
I also savored the Chicken Fain Biscuit Pizza. The snack had a flaky pastry base with a scrumptious topping of chicken. The snack was well prepared with natural spices. It had a pleasant tangy flavor and was topped with molten cheese. The same snack is also available in a vegetarian variant, in which instead of chicken, Chai Point uses soya chunks. My experience with the vegetarian version led me to believe that Chai Point doesn’t believe in doling out step fatherly treatment to vegetarian cuisine like some other restaurant chains, that will remain eternally nameless, choose to do.
Next on the menu was the Haleemi Oats Mast Dibbi. The name says it all. This is a puff pastry in the shape of a rectangular box with the filling of haleem and oats. For me, this was the winner of the evening. The haleem was extremely well prepared and would have certainly received an award from me if I were the head of a food tasting jury. You can easily feel the texture of the meat strands in your mouth. The oats gave it a crunch and the puff pastry was an incredible base in which to build the dish. If I had to rephrase my experience in a sentence, I would say “fusion done right”!
Usually, tea is a beverage that goes best with something savory. However, yet again, if you are like me, no meal, or for that matter, no snack is complete without a sweet munchy. At Chai Point, I tried their banana walnut cake slice as well as a slice of their chocolate cake. The banana slice was flavorsome. It was moist and I loved the textural change with the inclusion of the walnuts. On the other hand, the chocolate slice did not impress me greatly. It was a little low on flavor and was a little too dry.
I have kept the best for the last and now come to what Chai Point is really known for– the drinks. As soon as I stepped in, I was served a glass of lemon ice tea. It is the perfect drink after a hot Delhi summer day. The ice tea was refreshing indeed and will surely cool you down in no more than three or four minutes.
I next tried some of the new variations on tea. The one that intrigued me the most was Dum Cloud– their take on Persian tea. It was chai served latte style. The top of the cup was frothy and just by looking at it someone might actually believe that it was coffee. Taste wise, the drink is a treat for all those connoisseurs who enjoy both tea and coffee. It has the flavor of tea but neatly blends in the smoothness and richness of coffee.
Another beverage on the menu that I found appealing was the Paan Shake. I am no paan fan. However, the glass of green cold beverage looked very tempting. I gave it a try. One sip in and all my senses were instantly heightened. The shake was smooth and rich. The flavor of paan was brilliantly encapsulated in the shake. It is powerful while not over-powering.
I also enjoyed a sip of the all time favorite cutting chai. It was served in a cute little cutting chai cup and hit the spot right on. It was strong and flavorful. From the aroma, I could tell that it was totally natural with no added flavoring or preservatives present to adulterate the mix.
Chai Point uses 100% natural ingredients. The tea is supplied by growers from Assam and then blended into new flavors by their team of in-house experts. Other favorites which I have enjoyed subsequently are Ginger Chai and Dum Chai. Chai Point has also recently introduced a tiramisu shake which I am going to try the next time I am in the mall.
- Taste- 4/5
- Variety – 4/5
- Ambiance- 4/5
- Value for Money- 3.5/5
- Satiety Value -3.5/5
If my Chai Point experience is any indication, Chai Point is set to go places. Chai point is a great place to visit for a short break from work or to conduct a business meeting. Some of the unusual chai flavors are a must try. The fact that most of the materials the restaurant chain uses are biodegradable and eco friendly adds a “feel good quality” to your meal as well. The savory items are truly innovative especially their non vegetarian variants of the staple Indian snacks like the butter chicken samosa.
What: Chai Point
Where: DLF mall of India, Sector 18 Noida
Cost for 2: Rs. 200/-