Posted On Friday, June 01, 2012 at 08:10:47 AM
Aziza Degwekar was determined to give tea the same respect and status that coffee hogs. “I know it sounds funny but it is true. Nobody looks at a tea joint and says ‘Come, let’s hang out here!’ Pune is known for its Irani cafes where tea is sold with the famous bun-maska.
But, it is not considered an ‘in’ place to spend time with your date,” Degwekar, — a die-hard tea fan — grimaces. She adds that she always felt the need for a cafe that sells tea.
• Chai, Shop no 2, Supreme Classic, opposite Super Mall, off Salunkhe Vihar Road
“My husband Tejas and sister-in-law Komal warmed up to the idea and thus was born Chai.” The Degwekars are actively involved in the business. “It is a joint effort so it is difficult to say that only one of us is the owner,” adds Aziza.
Now, this is one place which manages to bring a smile to your face the moment you enter. It has the feel of a typical ‘tapri’ with its humble interiors adorned with cane and bamboo makeshift stands and some rustic aluminium kettles and degchis hanging from the ceiling.
“We wanted a whacky and chilled-out setting. So, the utensils have bulbs in them which light up the place in the evenings. And, during the day they serve as ‘hatke’ wall hangings. The interiors and Bollywood tadka here is my brainchild,” winks Aziza.
The cane walls have huge framed posters of films like Aakhri Rasta among other oldies. Post-it notes are provided and each customer can write his message and put it up on the poster. The open kitchen gives you a glimpse into what is cooking and fortunately it is clean and well kept.
What to chow
It goes without saying that you have to try the tea. But the bun items are also must-haves, especially the evergreen Bun-Maska and Bun Anda Cheese. The Sausage Anda served here gives a different twist to the traditional chicken sausage.
The combined taste of egg and sausage that welcomes your palate when you bite into it is heavenly. Worth a mention is the maggi, topped off wih butter.
You can also order some grated cheese, mayonnaise, cheese spread or boiled egg to go with it at an extra cost. All this can be wolfed down with the Masala Chai, Chai On The Rocks (iced tea) or Oreo Shake.
When you stuff yourself with a generous fare of maggi, chai and bun-maska and the bill turns out to be a meagre Rs 120, you know the place is a steal! All the items on the menu are priced between Rs 25 and 80.
“I wanted a brand cafe but not an expensive one,” adds Aziza. True to her word, each dish is filling and has various options where one can experiment within their budget.
Four months old now, Chai has managed to maintain a standard quality, hygiene and above all, quick service. The maggi served here lives up to its ‘two minute’tag line and only takes longer if you order it with additional toppings.
The tea here is well-made, strong and when combined with bun-maska, is reminiscent of the good ol’ Irani cafe. Just a tiny pointer — with the sweltering heat, the open-air section could do with some big umbrellas to provide some cool shade during the day.