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Alaskan Black Cod in Miso.
Alaskan Black Cod in Miso.

Authentic Thai food at Mumbai’s Happy Thai

  • Aditya Kilachand teams up with Chef James Biaka to serve more than the usual ‘red’ and ‘green’ curries and japanese fares
  • They plan on expanding to delivery-based, quick-service formats in the future

For the most part, Thai food in India is known only by a handful of colourful curries, but at Happy Thai, there are no “red" or “green" kinds. Instead, there’s the flavourful massaman curry or the hearty Japanese Ninja Katsu curry.

The brand describes itself as a fast-casual dining chain specializing in Thai and Japanese food. It brings together, once again, entrepreneur Aditya Kilachand and executive chef James Biaka. The duo had previously collaborated on the popular Japanese bar Tetsuma in Colaba, which shut down in 2014.

According to CEO Samir Chhabria, the restaurant seeks to address the lack of authentic Thai and Japanese food in the city. “Also, the (Thai) cuisine suits the Indian taste palette perfectly, especially in terms of spices, " says Chhabria. The menu is curated to reflect that idea, with offerings that stay true to their origins. “In our entrées, we have only one fish, which is the classic black cod in miso. Aditya didn’t want to serve food that wasn’t originally Thai, and thus, even though the menu seemed small, we wanted to do right by Thai food," Chhabria says.

Biaka says the idea of merging Japanese cuisine, with its mild tastes, and Thai cuisine, with its pungent kick, was that “we wanted our customers to start off easy with Japanese appetizers to open up their palettes and rise to more flavoursome entrées for a satisfying meal". “Without tweaking them to Indian sensibilities," adds Chhabria.

The 85-seater, 2,650 sq. ft dining space is minimal, with white walls and floors, furniture in muted, warm colours and rows of plants hanging from the ceiling. “Aditya was clear about the space being casual, approachable and simple, and since the elephant is revered in Thailand, we wanted to incorporate it into our identity," Chhabria says as Happy Thai’s logo—the “HT" takes the shape of the animal—shines behind the bar.

They plan to expand to delivery-based, quick-service formats. “A part of the Happy Thai brand is Happy Soba and we want to open two subsidiaries of these called Happy Thai Express and Happy Soba Express, which will serve our signature fare," Chhabria explains.

Happy Thai is open at Atria Mall, Worli, from noon-11pm through the week. A meal for two costs 2,000, plus taxes.

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