Review – Kuai Kitchen, Colaba

Silver cloches, gilded cutlery and polished diners are replaced by dimmer, disposable treats at Kuai Kitchen, Royal China’s new restaurant that owner Neville Vazifdar described as “a small, fun little Chinese eatery” at Colaba Causeway.

Neville’s promise of cheap-chic Chinese food holds true for the most part.

“It’s not priced like fine dining, but it’s meant to be good Chinese cooking,” we’re told. The kids buying kicks across the street at Nike fit right into this compact space with the air of a skate park – graffiti, brick walls, grey floors. We have neither kicks nor kvlt status, so we opt to order in, at our Colaba office where the vintage tiles and peeling wallpaper seem more of our time.

What to order

A panda on the blue and red menu offers Chinese dishes that are nearing extinction – Hakka noodles and honey noodles with ice cream – a small sushi list, but also several of your Royal China favourites – wonton soup, sesame prawn toast, chicken-prawn sui mai, lettuce wraps, lamb with black pepper and more – at approximately Rs 200 less than Royal’s prices.

Neat containers keep all the sauces and gravies in check, and we begin with chilli paste and truffle-edamame dumplings (only 3 pieces per serving) that are creamy with whiffs of earthy-funk. Thin wrappers are reminiscent of everything you’ve eaten at Royal’s dimsum lunch, including sesame prawn toast, served here like diminutive closed sandwiches with prawn fillings.

Springy, sweet lettuce cups have to be filled with a largely uninspired glass noodle-chicken stuffing that comes along. We could do without it, and it could do without the addition of American corn.

Chicken in chilli garlic sauce is a beacon of hope that Kuai’s chefs don’t do teekha desi Chinese.

Kuai’s Japanese foray fares quite nicely we decide, after soy-dipping crunchy California rolls. This six-piece ensemble sits tight and fresh, but costs just approximately Rs 100 less than Kofuku’s sushi, so pick your Jiro…er hero wisely.

Crispy seaweed isn’t available today, so we dive for mains instead. Mushroom pot rice is dark and comforting, but here sticky rice is replaced by long Basmati grains. Chicken in chilli garlic sauce is a beacon of hope that Kuai’s chefs don’t do teekha desi Chinese (if you crave that though, Sahibaan is just down the Causeway). Luckily, the chicken’s spice level is restrained and is missing aggressive food colouring agents.

Turns out, Neville’s promise of cheap-chic Chinese food holds true for the most part. Will we call Kuai Kitchen again? Absolutely.

Getting there: Kuai Kitchen, 16/A, Cusrow Baag, Colaba Causeway, call 33126018, Rs 395 for prawn toast.

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