Cuisine: Pan Asian
Blurb: This place has enormous potential
Atmospherics: Once you enter the restaurant, the double height ceiling gives it an extremely spacious appearance. It is a dramatic departure from the old version of Chi which used to have three branches, all now closed. This Chi is cool and will be the new happening place in the heart of the city, but its shift from the old Chi is marked. There is an enormous bar that has encroached on the number of tables that would otherwise have been possible and the design of the benches, sofas and chairs makes it evident that Chi is a hangout for the young and trendy. The old Chi was a family diner where customers of all ages would feel comfortable. It is on the first floor of a building in Janpath that has a lift, though you do have half a dozen stairs to negotiate.
Table talk: the food is the sub-text here. Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese, even one lone Chinjabi offering! The unmissable offerings include Balinese fish satay (Rs 425) which is served on lemongrass ‘skewers’. The fresh fish, the light sprinkling of lime leaves and lemongrass and the melt-in-the-mouth all make this the winner at Chi. Other worthies include the oyster chilli fish (Rs 525) in a delicious savoury sauce; the fish has been dipped in a thin batter and fried. The menu has segregated dishes by texture, a most unusual yet welcome move! Thus, there is the section marked ‘crisps’ a euphemism for bar snacks. Do try the Nainai’s honey chilli potato (Rs 295) that has only a nod to South East Asia. Crisp and addictive for the drizzle of chilli powder, it seems all set to be the signature bar snack of the restaurant. Chi has been famous for its meal-in-a-bowl concept and its pibimpab (chicken Rs 495) does not disappoint.
Plus and minus: The sofas do not have angled back-rests and are uncomfortable. You keep getting the Chi wi-fi name on your cellphone, yet when you ask the servers for the password, you are told off “It is only for official use. Not for guests”. Ouch. Is it not possible to change the name to something like ‘admin’ or ‘office’? The chicken and pork baos need urgent re-working, as does the tasteless kai yang (roast chicken).
Must try: duck rolls with hoisin sauce; prawn hargao; fish with Thai curry paste
Ratings: food: 3.50; service: 3.00; décor: 3.00
Tel: 45123244, 9810010244
Open from 12 noon to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Rs 1,800
Alcohol served; credit cards