Chez Panisse created its own butterfly effect, changing the way Americans cook, eat and think about food. For Venu Alla, who lived near the legendary restaurant in Berkeley, that influence was personal and powerful, turning him into "something of a foodie," he says, and inspiring the Indian architect and tech consultant to open a restaurant of his own: Chai & Chai;
An offbeat place at Anschutz Medical Campus, Chai & Chai offers not the seasonal, high-end fare of Chez Panisse but an eclectic -- and ever-evolving -- mix of Indian and Jordanian food.
Rather than offering fusion, though, the two kitchens operate separately under one roof. On the Indian side is Rajesh Kannan, a dosa chef who honed his skills at Masalaa. On the Arabian side is Enas Khalili, a Jordanian who is said to have cooked for the Royal Jordanian Army. And if that sounds like a complicated endeavor, it is. "There's no synergy," laments Alla. "Except salt, there's nothing they share."
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I trekked out to Chai & Chai in search of dosa, which had earned top honors as Best Dosa in the Best of Denver 2014. Find out if the rest of the food was worth the trip when my review is posted here tomorrow.