Address: 123 Houndsditch, EC3A 7BU
Nearest Station: Aldgate/Liverpool Street
Tel.: 020 7283 0444
Good For: Lunchtime fix, Filling meal, Takeaway, Spice
I was actually on the way back from having bought food when I spotted Café Kaati by complete chance – a not uncommon experience, as when beset by hunger and anticipation my greedy stomach causes my food radar to go into overdrive. Is it any surprise that I have a weakness for impulse-buying snacks?
Anyway… I was on my way back from buying the first of many lomitos from Moo Grill and decided to walk a slightly different route back than the one I had taken to get there. This is one of the things I like about working in the City, the fact that it is seemingly built for the curious stroller – there are so many things to discover. So, having had my curiosity piqued by Café Kaati, I was determined to make it the destination of my next lunchtime meal.
Although there is some seating and some tables, this is not a sit-down restaurant. The low couches and just-as-low tables which dominate the centre of the room look like they’d be good for lounging and munching, but in my opinion they seem to be designed just uncomfortable enough to dispel any delusions of sit-down grandeur. No, this place is set up for the quick lunchtime/takeaway fix. Although it is heavy with the City crowd at lunch, service is quick enough to ensure a relatively short wait and high turnover; the guys here know what they’re doing, and I think they even started to recognise me and predict my regular. A nice touch, eh?
As suggested by the name, the kaati roll is their speciality, though they do have other main dishes like thalis. I’d read online that the Chicken 65 is their best option and boy, it is good. Tasty chunks of chicken with a chilli hit, all coated in flour, deep-fried and served with standard toppings of lettuce, carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers. How can that not sound good? Well, when you wrap it a fried, doughy and chewy paratha that is coated on the inside with egg and cheese, THAT’S how you make it sound better.
One note though – I would recommend the egg and cheese additions only for those with extreme hunger; that afternoon I was afflicted by a food coma, and I learnt my lesson to avoid them if I wanted to be capable of work afterwards. As for their other kaati roll options… I was less than impressed with the Tandoori Chicken, which seemed to be less flavourful when compared to the Chicken 65. But that matters little when it is the Chicken 65 that you keep on craving.
And for lunch, that’s all you need really. That fateful first day I did try their gulab jamun, and I think that it contributed significantly to that afternoon’s food coma. I love this dessert: heavy deep-fried doughy pieces that are saturated in rosewater syrup. It is sinful, it is rich, it is luxurious – and Café Kaati’s example is, in my opinion, a decent one. But I must labour the point – only have some with your kaati roll if you are hungry and capable. Or maybe have the afternoon off.
VERDICT – Highly recommended. If you are in the City and after something different from the usual sandwich, wrap and salad chains for lunch, Café Kaati should be high up on your hit-list. It is distinct, it is tasty, it is filling and best of all it is of a comparable price to some of these chains. Don’t settle for the usual – head over to Café Kaati now.
Currently listening to: AFI – Paper Airplanes (makeshift wings)