I am a coffee drinker: there is no doubt, although I severely reduced my intake when I realized that 14 espresso was a bit too much. So, tea is not something I would drink on a regular basis except at Chinese or Thai restaurants. One exception is Chai that I discovered many years ago during a trip to India. Chai means “tea” in Hindi so you should never say “Chai tea” the same way you would never say a “coffee espresso”. It is black tea that is mixed with spices like cardamom, clove, ginger, etc. and is said, thanks to these spices, to have medicinal benefits (ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for digestion).
So I was glad to see Simply Chai open few weeks ago, in a space that has seen many unsuccessful business closing fairly quickly, mainly coffee shops trying to compete with the nearby Starbucks. The space is big, relaxing and colorful, especially with all these little umbrellas on the ceiling.
Menu wise, they propose various versions of Chai and I should mention that, contrary to lots of places, they do not use tea bags or concentrate. No, they use spices sourced in India that they mix with black tea, boil it, add milk and continue to boil for a few seconds. Then they strain it and voila! You get a mixture that not only smells incredible, but also tastes amazing. They offer six different kinds of Chai (you can even get a flight of three), served hot, as well as five version of cold drinks that they are called Thandais. One of them is the Haldi Doodh, a drink that gets its color from turmeric (haldi) and is made with honey, spices and oat milk. Refreshing, you definitely get more than a hint of turmeric in it. This is again known as having health benefits thanks to the turmeric anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property.
If you are not really into chai, rest assured that they also propose coffee, from espresso to cortado, as well as an iced coffee made with cardamom that I preferred with milk.
But besides the Chai, there is one thing that make this place even stand out: their dosa waffle. This dish is not a classic Indian dish but more a fusion of the dosa, a sort of crepe, and the waffle as we know it for the shape. We only tried the savory ones that are all vegetarian. My favorite was The Millenial, made with feta and avocado (a good one at least), but I also liked the Bombay Dreams stuffed with onions, cucumber, Amul cheese, sev for some added crispness, mint and date chutneys. The former being more like a classic American brunch offering and the second bringing Indian flavors. I admit that the waffle itself was really good, slightly crunchy in some areas.
I just need to try the sweet ones next time we go there. Because yes, I would go back in a heartbeat. I should mention that this place does something admirable: 10% of their profits will be used to house, feed and educate the homeless. So it is an even better argument to recommend this place.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Simply Chai - 79 Hudson St, Hoboken, NJ 07030