“Chai Shai” is defined as 1) a place for chai tea and street food, etc. and 2) a social gathering place. Both aptly describe Chai Shai, the new Pakastani/Indian spot at 59th and Holmes. It’s family owned and operated–two brothers (and UMKC students) run the front of the house, their sister developed the restaurant’s website and mom is in the kitchen.
The menu is small, with an emphasis on appetizers. Samosas are the house specialty, and though I’m not crazy about anything fried (except French fries), these were incredibly light and delicate. Filled with spicy potatoes, cilantro and peas, they are served with a green chutney of mint and green chilis. The Papdi Chaat was a hit and, according to our server, the quintessential street food. Consisting of samosa chips, chick peas, tomatoes, onions, yogurt and chaat masala, it had great texture.
The lunch special of the day was a smaller version of a nightly dinner entree, Karahi Chicken. Pieces of chicken are smothered in a sauce of tomatoes, garam masala, ginger and garlic, and served atop the tastiest basmati rice I’ve ever eaten.
In addition to the appetizers, the menu also sports a few wraps, Indian-style burritos using roti (flatbread) to roll up meats, lettuce and yogurt sauce. Only two dinner entrees are listed, but a chalkboard announces daily specials, which adds to an otherwise limited line-up.
I hope at some point they drop the plastic and go with real dishes. I would imagine it’s more cost-effective, it would certainly be more environmentally conscious.
To generate additional income, the Tufials sell shelves of Pakastani clothes and fashion accessories, as well as rice, spices and other specialty grocery items. Wi-Fi is available for those who want to hang out while enjoying a mango shake or chai, and the restaurant also offers free use of an iPad for customers sitting at the counter. A nice touch for a restaurant that hopes to become a neighborhood hangout.