Quick, cheap and tasty: Kuai in Colaba checks quite a few boxes
Expect delicious pan-Asian food from the people behind Royal China, with most of the satisfaction and none of the sticker shock.more lifestyle Updated: Apr 15, 2017 08:20 IST
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Where: 16/A, Cusrow Baug, Colaba Causeway, Colaba
When: Noon to 3.30 pm, 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Cost: Rs 1,500 for a meal for two. No alcohol served.
Call: 2283-0692 / 3312-6018
Fast, that’s what Kuai means in Mandarin Chinese, according to Google. It’s a fitting name for a place that seems designed mainly for takeaway and deliveries. But it’s not so bad for eating at either.
Kuai has replaced Sufra on Colaba Causeway, a place that for over a year found little enthusiasm even among its staff, much less its customers.
In comparison, every time I’ve peeked into Kuai over the past month, at least 10 of its 12 indoor seats have been occupied. One night, there was a power outage, and still six of the eight seats on the porch were taken too. Everyone was eating by candlelight, sweaty but happy.
Kuai serves pan-Asian food, no surprise when we discover that it’s the littlest and newest sibling of Royal China, and the recently opened Jia down the road. The menu reads like a mixed tape of the greatest hits of three decades – sesame prawn toast, Thai curry, truffle edamame dumplings, crunchy California roll, kung pao chicken, and everything else we’ve loved in Asian food between the ’80s and now.
When we reached the end of our starters, we realised there wasn’t one thing we wouldn’t try a second time. The dynamite prawns are Kuai’s version of Wasabi’s rock shrimp tempura without the sticker shock but with all the satisfaction. The ultra-light tom yum soup is an exercise in balanced flavours – sour, spicy, salty, sweet.
Hand-torn clouds – that’s the first thing we thought of when we saw the BBQ chicken baos, steamed bread encasing sticky spicy nubs of meat. In the steamed wontons, savoury chicken or veggies can be found again, minced and encased in slinky sheets of dough, in a sweet, spicy soy broth good, you want spoonfuls of it after.
With the sushi and the mains, perhaps we picked poorly. The crazy cream roll is crazy in its idea, not so much in its flavour. Avocado and cream cheese is sheathed in nori and sushi rice, zigzagged with mayonnaise. The dominant flavour is dried seaweed. The lamb Szechuan in peanut sauce has no sauce, but chunks of sinewy meat tossed with dried red chillies and whole peanuts. We expected a minor endorphin rush from the Szechuan noodles. Instead, they were perfectly cooked and nicely smoky, but only a slightly spicier version of Hakka noodles. No Szechuan peppers were harmed in the making of these dishes.
Kuai redeemed itself with dessert. Everyone should try the chocolate wontons. They’re puffed, extra crisp, fragile triangles, coated on the inside with just enough melted chocolate. And lychees and ice cream is just that: old-school canned fruit, topped with a scoop of vanilla – a perfectly appropriate, unpretentious, classic Chindian dessert. As fast dessert goes, you can’t get anything quicker.
(HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals)