Introducing Thai food with a hint of Japanese flavours, the trio of the well-known Mumbai restaurant Tetsuma is back with Happy Thai. Samir Chhabria and Aditya Kilachand have teamed up with Chef James Biaka to open the modern Thai and Japanese restaurant, Happy Thai, at Worli’s Atria Mall.
LuxeBook talks to Chef James about planning the menu, plating, training the service staff and controlling the food cost. James has been working on Japanese cuisine for more than thirty years and wants to now try his hands at Thai cuisine. “Indian people like spice and herbs, which is used in Thai food. Also, Japanese food is more like appetizers,” says James.
At this restaurant, the 85-seat dining space has white walls and marble floors, furniture in sap green and muted cadmium yellow, and plants hanging from the ceiling. Cold-pressed juices and mint mojito are the only drinks on the menu until the liquor license is obtained. For non-vegetarians, there’s the surprising Hamachi Yellow Tail Carpaccio, California Roll, and the Chicken Satay and for the vegetarians, there are the classic Pad Thai, Zucchini Carpaccio and the Lotus Root+Mushroom. For dessert, it’s a tie between the New York cheesecake and the classic mango tart.
For Happy Thai, James sources ingredients from Japan and Bangkok. He claims that Happy Thai is a perfect place for people who want to grab a quick bite in a fine-dine ambience. He recommends Alaskan Black Cod in Miso, the Truffle Spinach Parmesan and the Kapow Chicken Basil. Happy Thai’s Founder, well-known businessman and restaurateur Samir Chhabria believes that different Asian cuisines are becoming very popular in the country. “Thai has always been a component of the Pan-Asian cuisine, but with Happy Thai I want to make it the star of the menu, which is accessible to all segments of the society,” says Chhabria. His last food venture Tetsuma ran for eight years from 2006 to 2014 and thereafter he joined as the Business & Operations head of InterContinental Hotels Group and then Bellona Hospitality Services Ltd. “For him success is not money, but the lessons he has learnt.” Taking from his past experiences the menu at Happy Thai is crisp. “People usually order from the first three pages of the menu and not look at the rest,” says Chhabria. Though he admits that as the food scene evolves, there’s a lot more to learn and work on. “People are leaning towards vegan and gluten-free meals and that’s something one needs to adapt to.”