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Spicy San Francisco — Chicken Tikka Masala Kati Roll (Tenderloin)

September 11, 2013

Restaurant name: Kasa Indian Eatery

Location:  1356 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 ‎

Website:  www.kasaindian.com/

“What’s the spiciest thing on your menu?”

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Tikka Masala Kati Roll

(“classic street food like a small and tasty Indian burrito”. w/ masala marinated chicken, onions, green samosa sauce, basil, and in a crispy roll)

          “This is going to very spicy!” the worker told me, and I instantly became very aroused excited.  I was already overjoyed when I found the “fast food” Indian place in the Tenderloin and stepped inside to smell the normal smells of any Indian restaurant.  As he assembled my meal with a wicked smile, I thought back to the last time I ate something similar and remembered Roti Roll in New York City–an absolutely fabulous joint that’s attached to a disco dance bar in the upper west side of the city.

If you’ve never had a Kati Roll (or something similar with a different name), it’s basically a quickly made Indian wrap.  Inside is a self-contained Indian meal–the kind you would see on any “regular” restaurant menu.  After you choose your dish, the only thing left to decide is how many you want, and how spicy you want it.  Calling it a burrito though, would not be accurate it all–it’s an open ended wrap, crispy, and it’s not even covered in tin foil!

Normally I have three rules for Indian food:

•  if vindaloo is an option, I order that

  if they have samosas, I get at least two

  if I can afford a mango lassi, I drink one

          Unfortunately, vindaloo was not on the menu, but I was pleasantly surprised when the worker told me that chicken tikka masala was the spiciest choice.  Normally the creamy nature of the dish precludes it as the spiciest selection, but I’ll trust the person who prepares the food at any given restaurant.

A kati roll, two samosas, mango lassi, and sauce.  ~$12 and delicious!

A kati roll, two samosas, mango lassi, and sauce. ~$12 and delicious!

          Before I talk about the main attraction, let me briefly discuss the what’s on this plate.  The samosas were rather standard and not particularly fresh, and the same can be said about the mango lassi.  I had never thought it possible to be disappointed by a lassi drink, but if it was actually made that day I would be surprised.  The green sauce, topped with the red, is what you would expect from any Indian restaurant–green is spicy, red is sweet.  The green samosa sauce was also inside the kati roll, and I would say it had pretty normal heat–nothing that should bother an average customer.  The creamy white sauce beside it is yogurt based.

Chicken Tikka Masala Kati Roll Zeroed Heat vs. Taste Scale (‘Z-Scale’)

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(-10) •   (-5) X    (0)     (5)     (10)

Z-Scale Score of -4

Explanation of the Z-Scale

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          Let’s talk about the heat–first, some baseline modifiers:

•  I requested it “extra hot”

•  Nothing was added by me, but I did end up spooning more of the green sauce onto the wrap from the plate

•  I did have a mango lassi, but no water

         At a Z-Scale of -4, the dish could’ve been spicier without hurting the taste.  Actually, no, that wouldn’t be possible and here’s why: the extra heat in the dish came from a mysterious white-brown sauce, and there was so much of it that the wrap was falling apart.  This is no exaggeration–by the end of the meal, there was almost soup on my plate.  If there had been any more of this spicy (yogurt based, I think) sauce, I would’ve requested a straw.

However, the fact remains that a mango lassi was certainly not necessary to finish this dish–a glass of water would’ve sufficed.  Halfway through the wrap, I had to stop eating samosas and drinking the lassi in order to properly gauge the heat.  It peaked very early at a -4 and was well distributed  and consistent throughout the wrap.  While certainly never painful or even uncomfortable, I would definitely classify it as a spicy meal.

         I feel somewhat lied to by the worker who made a big deal out of how spicy it would be.  He seemed to be genuinely excited by the prospect–like this was going to be something he normally didn’t do for his customers.  And maybe it was.  But if you load up a meal with a comical amount of your spiciest sauce, I expect to be blown away.

          However, I would order this dish again simply because the roll was delicious–I want to try all the other options!

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