Satya Chai Bazaar
We came here because: we had had enough of conventional curries and were craving some spicy Indian street food. Plus the weather has been beautiful so we wanted to take full advantage by being outside.
The décor was: Slumdog meets chai lounge. It is located in a vacant lot opposite the Ponsonby Countdown. Hessian coffee sacs flap over the entrance way, partially obscuring the Bazaar from the street. Step inside and you’ll find an urban oasis of overturned whiteware and repurposed doors for tables with cushioned wooden crates to stoop on. As the sun goes down the gas lamps and fairy lights come on and it’s all a bit magical.
The food was: incredible. One bite and you’re transported to the streets of India. It’s a short menu of street food that you’re unlikely to have tried before. Those fluffy Parker House-style rolls (or ‘pav’ as they call it) make more than one appearance on the menu. Firstly they feature as a slider (Vada Pav, $8), crisp and buttery, dusted with Kashmiri chilli and encasing a spiced potato fritter, any greasiness cut by tangy tamarind chutney and a fresh mint chutney. The rolls also feature in one of my favourite dishes, the Kheema Pav ($14, chicken or lamb options available). Described as India’s answer to sloppy joes, our minced lamb version was spicy and unctuous, served with fried, lusciously buttered bread rolls that you’re meant to slop the lamb mince onto. Things are kept in check however with a salsa of sorts of fresh herbs, onion, tomato and capsicum that is served on top.
The other crowd favourite was the Papdi Chaat ($12), a savoury Indo-version of an Eton mess. Fans of Satya’s famous dahi puri will delight in this concoction of smashed up chickpea crackers, spiced potato, yoghurt and tamarind, date and mint chutneys. It’s finished off with a generous shower of masala spices and each spoonful is a taste and textural delight.
They lack a liquor license, but who cares when hot, fragrant masala chai (a spiced Indian milk tea) and Indian lemonade are on offer. The chai was served in a cute little terracotta jar.
We loved: the vibe of the place as much as the food and drink.
If I could change one thing it would be: that the Bazaar finds itself a permanent home. Why should good things ever come to an end?
Overall: a novel and quirky pop-up with a great atmosphere and even better food.
This review was originally written for Cheap Eats.