Subscriber OnlyRestaurants

Delicious and affordable Indian street food you are likely to return to again and again

This is a place that you are likely to return to, for a quick bite during the day or dinner with friends

Kasi Café
    
Address: 3-4 Crow St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 F884
Telephone: 086 176 6864
Cuisine: Indian
Cost: €€

Street food is one of those buzzy phrases that promises a taste of food from outside the narrow confines of our little country. Because, let’s face it, we don’t have a street food culture of our own, but over the past few years, it has grown to a huge degree with food trucks at markets offering tastes of Korea, China, India, Africa, Spain, Mexico, South America and the Middle East. Apologies to any great nation or region that I may have omitted.

Kasi Café, run by two Indian brothers, Daril and Dipin Thomas, opened in Temple Bar on August 29th, coinciding with the Keralan harvest festival of Onam. Looking at its website, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a takeaway operation, but this compact room can accommodate 15 walk-in diners. So get there early in the evening if you’re going for dinner.

My Indian expert on speed dial, food writer Vritti Bansal, is always on the hunt for good dosa and is equally interested in checking out the momos, which are a speciality of this new restaurant.

The room is like a year-round celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, with simple wooden tables, and a firm banquette. Shane Ha is the artist responsible for the murals, one of a man, who represents the monks devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva, the other of a woman to signify the Indian tradition of welcoming guests at home and serving them.


Our waitress asks if we want to order momos; they take 20 minutes to prepare, she explains, so we go for the vegetarian option (€12.50), before we trawl through the rest of the menu. There are starters of samosas, onion bhaji and medu vada; two types of Bengali kathi rolls; six dosa variations; four types of chaat; rice bowls and biryani. We add chaat, dosa and biryani to our order and soft drinks (€2); this is not a BYOB restaurant.

I have eaten pani puri before, the crisp, puffed shell that is filled with spiced potatoes and doused in mint water, a delicious, large one-bite snack. Dahi puri (€8.50 for six) is similar, but has yoghurt instead of mint water in the same crispy shell. The yoghurt is slightly sweetened and salted, and tops potatoes, tamarind chutney and chickpeas, garnished with sev, coriander and red onion.

Aloo tikki (€9.50) are fried spiced potato cakes dressed in tamarind and yoghurt, soft and fluffy with a golden crispy exterior. The chickpeas are spicy, not particularly hot but with a mild chilli kick, with cumin to the fore and turmeric in the background. The samosa chaat (€9.50), potato and pea filling in crispy pastry, is dressed similarly and served with chickpeas.

The momos arrive, eight round steaming dumplings, crimped at the top. The wrappers are fine and silky, filled with minced and finely chopped vegetables, with flavours of onion and cumin. The momos are good, says Vritti, but the chutneys would be a lot spicier in India, which I could absolutely see, as a hotter, less sweet sauce would work better. Nonetheless, I can feel my lips tingling slightly.

For our larger dishes, we have gone for two dosas, the classic masala dosa (€11.50) and, what Vritti says is a fusion take, the chilli cheese dosa (€12).

These pass the Vritti dosa inspection admirably. The masala dosa is thin, crispy on one side and without any sogginess, and filled with spicy chunks of potato. It comes with a very good coconut chutney and sambar, the lentil gravy to dip it into, which has a nice spicy kick. The cheddar chilli combination, we all agree, is interesting to try, a bit like an Indian take on a quesadilla, but not as good as the classic masala version.

The chicken biryani (€15.50), our third large dish, is served on a stainless steel tray, plated with raita, chutney and a poppadom. It is the least interesting of the dishes by quite a large margin, and the chicken, cut in cubes rather than on the bone, is a bit tough.

In an effort to get a good sense of the menu, we have, of course, completely over-ordered, yet there are dishes I have yet to try. Kasi Café is a place that you are likely to return to, for a quick bite during the day or dinner with friends. It is open from 11am to 8.30pm daily. This is tasty casual Indian food at an affordable price.

Dinner for three with two soft drinks was €83.

The verdict: Dosas, momos and chaat; this food is delicious

Music: Fifty Fifty, SZA and TikTok music

Food provenance: Chicken (not free-range) from Musgrave MarketPlace, supermarket vegetables

Vegetarian options: Momos, chaat, snacks, paneer dishes, rice bowls and dosa; also vegan dosa, rice bowl and snacks.

Wheelchair access: Accessible with no accessible toilet

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column