Almost five months after his stint at Ellipsis came to an end, Canadian-born chef Kelvin Cheung is back in the city with his new venture, One Street Over — a bar that serves made-from-scratch cocktails with a clean and lean menu to go with. “In August, I moved back home (Chicago). My fiancée had already bought a car and rented an apartment, but the project at home didn’t pan out the way I wanted,” says 36-year-old Cheung. When he started looking for opportunities, it boiled down to London, Shanghai and Mumbai. “I guess Mumbai’s not done with me, and I’m not done with Mumbai yet. This is where I built the better part of my career,” he says, looking back at his time at Ellipsis.
That was four years ago. Since then, Cheung has been dubbed as Mumbai’s wonder chef. In 2012, Cheung came on board as the head chef when the Colaba-based restaurant’s original line of American chefs moved out within two months of opening. At Ellipsis, Cheung managed to build a base of loyal clientele with his style of modern American cuisine combined with edgy presentation. He counted celebrities including Sonam Kapoor, sister Rhea Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Lisa Haydon and Imran Khan among his regulars.
Like most Asians growing up in America, Cheung was expected to pursue ‘safe’ career options. He joined medical school but soon dropped out to become a chef. But his training had begun very early in life. Since the age of six, Cheung spent a lot of time in the kitchen of his family’s chain of Chinese restaurants in Chicago.
For One Street Over, Cheung will be assisted by close friend Boo Kwang Kim, who was previously the chef de cuisine at Little Goat, a popular Chicago-based eatery. “I’ve known Boo for a long time, I was his teacher,” says Cheung. The duo, along with three other friends, set up an eatery in Chicago before Cheung moved to India. “For a couple of years, we literally lived together; we were like family,” he adds. As part of Kim’s initiation into Mumbai’s food scene, Cheung took him to local eateries and popular places in the city. “This is my first time out of the States,” says Kim. Don’t be fooled by his bulky exterior though, he is shy and it won’t be wrong to call him a man of few words. Kim will bring his Korean influences to Cheung’s American sensibilities.
Situated on Linking Road, One Street Over is different from Cheung’s last project. “Bandra is a unique place. The crowd is younger. They are a lot more adventurous but are price-sensitive,” says Cheung. The menu will focus on fresh and affordable cocktails by mixologist Arijit Bose, who will use local ingredients and home-made syrups. The food menu too will complement the drinks with a focus on healthy and non-greasy bar eats.
On the menu
“Everything is going to be seasonal, the menu draws ideas from global street food,” says Cheung. Watch out for dishes like Kung pao broccoli, burrata with carrot marinara, cauliflower cashew hummus and prawns with cornbread. “The burrata will be served with a marinara sauce made of fresh carrots instead of Italian tomatoes. And the carrot tops will be used to make the pesto, instead of the usual basil,” says Cheung. Wait, that’s not all. The dish comes accompanied with roasted baby carrots in brown butter and fermented carrot vinaigrette on top. “Everything that we put on this first menu is stuff we like to drink with back home, things we want to eat after we are done drinking, and things we want to eat when we wake up hung-over,” adds Cheung, who is also a cross-fit enthusiast.
For those who like to party hard but often complain about the kitchen shutting early, Cheung has some sneak surprises in store. “Around midnight, I’ll announce a dish on social media and we will do limited orders of those — say around 30 plates. It’ll be something random and fun – Mongolian beef on one day or pad Thai on another, or may be just cookies on another,” he says.
After One Street Over, Cheung plans to set up two more restaurants with Aallia Hospitality, which is revamping its roster of bars and nightclubs like Villa 69 and Gangsta’s. “We will work on a project, Boo will help me run it while I move to the next. But it’ll be one thing at a time.” says Cheung.
Where: One Street Over, ground floor, Navrang building, near National College, Khar (W)
Call: 2600 2224