CLARIFICATION: After publication, Patel called to iterate that Chowpatty is an independent endeavor separate from Naansense. The scope of the pop-up is also being determined and may only take place on the weekends and it may not launch until Februrary. Amended story follows.
A dinner pop-up showcasing Indian street food should soon launch in the West Loop. Even though it’s a separate endeavor from the restaurant, it will take place at Naansense in the West Loop, 113 S. Clinton Street. A friend of Naansense chef/owner Hiran Patel, Sahil Singh, will serve Indian street food with a menu that features dosa with chicken chorizo and chaat stations. They’ll even fry uttapam (dosa-like batter) in a waffle maker and serve it with fried chicken. They’re calling the new endeavor Chowpatty (Indian street food).
The first Naansense that opened in 2014 in the Loop, offering customers a fast-casual experience where they build their own rice bowls. But Singh is determined to come off the assembly line. They’ve been scouting locations in search of a new restaurant space to showcase more items. The West Loop location opened in 2015.
Chowpatty, originally slated for a January launch, will now launch in February. Instead of focusing on opening a new restaurant, they’ll better utilize the West Loop location which presently closes at 4 p.m. on weekdays. Patel and Singh will helm the kitchen cooking dosa, fresh samosas, and more. They may even pop-up with five- to seven-course tasting menus representing a specific region of India.
Convincing Americans that Indian food represents more than the typical North Indian Punjabi-style menus that most restaurants, including those on Devon, serve is a challenge. Patel compared it to how Americans perceived Japanese food. For a long time, many Americans viewed sushi as the only option from Japan. But now more are familiar with ramen and izakaya offerings. It’s happening already — more Americans are aware of dosa, the crispy and crepe-like flatbreads made with fermented rice that originates from South India.
Chicago is bracing for the city’s first-dedicated dosa restaurant slated to open in 2018. Dosas are available in other parts of the city. But just as many restaurants offer steak on their menu, it doesn’t make them a steakhouse. Patel and Singh held their own dosa pop-ups with items like a steak chimichuri dosa and the classic masala with potatoes. Expect to see those items at Chowpatty.
“I think dosa is a huge food trend, just like how ramen blew up — for example,” Patel said. “I don’t think it’s going to get as big as ramen, but it’s one of those things like sushi was to Japanese food — that’s all they knew.”
Trips to Gujarat, India as a child inspired Patel to be a chef. He saw the variety of options, including Indian omelette stations. He discovered that Indian food was more than what his mother cooked for him in America. Singh’s Chowpatty would recreate that experience.
Check back for updates on the menu as opening day approaches.