Inspired by the vibrant colours and flavours of India, Chaiwala offers discerning diners a choice of beautifully presented Indian sharing dishes served in a quirky setting.
Accessed through Hugger Mugger, Central’s eccentric British pop-culture inspired bar, Chaiwala is a stylish and quirky eatery that’s bursting with surprises. Located in the heart of Central on Wyndham Street, an area renowned for its great food, Chaiwala serves a sublime collection of sharing-style dishes based on the rich and varied colours, flavours and textures found across Indian cuisine.
The restaurant is divided into three partitioned areas, the Chai Bar, the Kitchen and the Dining Room. Each area has been designed to offer a vibrant insight into the colourful hustle and bustle of Indian life.
The bar is a popular space and the starting point for an excellent dining experience where the extensive range of cocktails, beers, wines and spirits is complemented by some inspirational creations like the Pink Floyd-inspired Money that comes served with caviar and gold flakes and our favourite, the Magic Lamp.
A beautifully presented concoction the Magic Lamp is based on butter-washed Plantation rum with banana and citrus notes poured at your table with some style from a decorated Aladdin’s lamp into a birdcage-housed glass. There’s also an extensive range of non-alcoholic drinks including the iconic collection of lassis, as well as the fabulous signature chai tea latte.
With moody lighting, the dining area is an eclectic mix of retro and contemporary Indian features that help craft a buzzing atmosphere. The chairs are backed by Indian fabrics, there are strips of fabric and strings of traditional trinkets and bells hanging from the ceiling above the central chef’s table and antique-style décor and partitions throughout that contrast with the dark wooden tables, floor and washed walls.
The kitchen is open and diners can enjoy seeing Chef Balaji Balachander and his team in full flow, cooking over the traditional stoves and tandoor ovens as the aromatic spices waft freely into the bar and dining room.
The menu is substantial and is divided into six sections that together offer a collection of classic and creative dishes from throughout the vast country. From the à la carte menu open with Indian street snack foods like salted pink salmon and the decadent Malabar scallops, or our favourite signature pani puri, a hollow fried crisp bowl crammed with delicious spicy filling.
With an extensive collection of mains choosing might be your biggest challenge. But Chaiwala has that covered with the Dabbawala Menu a range of signatures and favourite dishes served as taster portions. With dishes like tandoori lamb chops, lobster nerulli, Old Delhi butter chicken and Kerala fish curry, the à la carte menu is crammed with delicious and hearty mains made for sharing.
Order together and add in a few sides like truffle naan and pilau rice and indulge in contemporary Indian meal you are sure to remember.