Chowpatty Time

veggie.sloppy.joe.jpg Top Chef veteran Preeti Mistry has a pop-up lunch spot in San Francisco called Juhu Beach Club. Pop-ups are temporary guerilla-style dining spots that take over an existing location, and Mistry’s is located in the front part of a liquor store that has a deli and sells lotto tickets. I’ve yet to check out a Sassy Lassi or Bizarre Love Triangle from the Club, but I’m intrigued by the chef’s description of her food.

Mistry told SFoodie that “a lot of it is the expression of an experience that a lot of Indian Americans my age probably have.” She grew up eating both Indian and American food and got inspired during a recent trip to Mumbai, her first in 20 years. She enjoyed the street food snacks of Juhu Beach like pani puri but admitted to 7X7 that it would be logistically difficult to offer it at the pop-up.

Is the Chowpatty Chicken Sandwich on her menu, described as having ingredients like cilantro, turmeric and ginger, and topped with a cabbage slaw, authentic? What is authentic anyway? The chef shares her thoughts in a brief interview with 7X7.

It’s not authentic, but it’s my version of authentic. I grew up in America eating hamburgers and Indian food, you know?

The idea of authentic is a pretty fleeting one, if you think about how cultures and tastes change over time anyhow.

Yeah, my sister was just talking about that. She was like, ‘You know, when Mom was growing up in Mumbai there was no vadapav–which is essentially a potato sandwich. There was no Frankie–which is kind of like a kati roll that you get at Kasa. Those are relatively new street food foods in India. Things evolve. For this pop-up, I’m going to make what I like and what makes sense in San Francisco. (7X7)

Though pop-up eateries are ephemeral food experiences by definition, it looks like Juhu Beach Club will be around for another month. The ambiance includes Bollywood on TV and silkscreens on the wall.


19 thoughts on “Chowpatty Time

    • I heard about it from a local magazine and weekly, but yeah, Twitter looks like the spot to get all the up-to-the minute details about Juhu.

  1. Mmmm that looks good! I miss homemade desi food. Went to a fundraiser event hosted by the Bengali Students Club at my college last night to get some of that good stuff even though I’m not bengali hah. I wish she would open up a spot in NY! I’m craving spicy chickpeas right now.

      • PS – Bengali food is so gooood! : )

        actually any type of spicy food is good compared to the bland gora food I eat in college (no offense to goras, but c’mon). I’m on a meal plan right now so I tend to eat in dining halls cause it’s cheaper than eating out.

        • nice that u thing bengali food is good! so much “indian food” in amerika seems to be northwest indian type cuisine, cuz that’s more palatable and less spicy. i quite like south indian food, though i’ve only encountered it in adulthood. as for blandness, carry habeneros. i did that at a fancy frenchy type restaurant recently : -) habeneros + mussels = crazy delicious!

    • It’s a weekday lunch spot for now so timing would be limited but I’d be up for one. Anyone else interested in a schmeetup?

  2. ^ No, complaining about missing home-made, grandma-made food :[ although come to think of it, I think I have some frozen kabobs in the freezer my mom left…

    also imo the best desi places in NYC aren’t in manhattan, they’re tiny hole in the wall places in queens being run by aunties fresh off the boat

  3. I actually will be getting my first experience of mainstream Bong food when I’ll be in Calcutta and Siliguri this summer. Everytime I’ve been there before, it has been with parents and relatives, and being South Indian Brahmins, we are notoriously boring when it comes to trying out other cuisines.

    I wonder how frozen mishti doi tastes… and I’m gonna find out.

    But this time it’s going to be an all out nom-ing fest, and I’m going to be over Amar Sona Bong food like …..a fat kid over mishti doi…

    • “I wonder how frozen mishti doi tastes… and I’m gonna find out”

      Your TCBY alternative! :-P

      Never had it frozen and never heard of anyone having it frozen, but it could work…doi (or dahi for y’all non bengalis) is one of those hit and miss dishes in my opinion. You either make it right or get it all wrong. In fact, i think that applies to all sweets – the texture is key and it has to be right otherwise the entire dish is ruined.

      I hate the idea of fusion food though. I mean I’ll have a dosa with my mom’s curries and i’ll have vadeh with ketchup or something, but I won’t mix and match leftover curry with hamburger bread or make biryani out of general thao chicken (extreme example, but some people have funky palates)…some marriages are simply not meant to last.

  4. I wonder how far we are from something like liquid nitrogen-ed Rossogolla crumbs over a shrikand filled cham-cham with a dab of guajillo chocolate sauce showing up on Iron Chef.

  5. nice that u thing bengali food is good!

    My fingers still smell like fish, but it was worth it! and I agree, south Indian food is sooo spicy and delicious, and sadly there’s not enough of it here because most Amreekans can’t handle it. I remember at barbeques growing up, my parents would make sure to prepare spicy and non-spicy food; one for the family, one for the neighbors…haha it’s all good though.

  6. “I hate the idea of fusion food though.”

    I love the idea of fusion food. The reason I started eating meat/chicken/fish was because of the cultural and linguistic parallels I started finding when I started learning other languages like Farsi and Chinese (and consequently their countries). Ive found food to be a very good medium of bringing people together.

    I personally love cooking, I’m not good at it but I really got into combining flavors when a friend of mine started making these videos on global food cultures, for little kids she used to teach in Texas.

    I think the best dish I ever made, at least to my own tastebuds, was last Christmas for a party at my friend’s house. His family are Polish immigrants, so I wanted to make Pierogies. I ended up making a Colcannon (Irish Mashed potatoes) stuffing for the pierogie, pan frying them to get a crispy exterior like Samosas and I served them with a Mughalai sauce and a Rarebit sauce (the latter sauce stolen from Alton Brown). It was a lot of different cultures that ended up in one dish, that made me love cooking just that much more.

    I would love to see what flavors/spices/foods have SMers combined… in serious endeavors, not munchie fests or midnight-raids!

  7. “I hate the idea of fusion food though.”

    Blasphemy! :P No but really, the examples you gave sound kinda gross but you should try fusion food, it’s awesome. Went to a Brazilian-Japanese place for a friend’s birthday recently and it was amazing!

    I wish they had more Desi street food around here, like instead of a hot dog stand on every NYC corner I want to see stands selling those spicy potato patties like they have in Peshawar and Karachi. Or those little cups of spicy chickpeas they sell in like every shopping mall there.

  8. This sandwich does not look pleasing one bit. It’s reflective of an unimaginative and profiteering mindset. Come on. Couldn’t the producers of this sabzi-sandwich at least used a whole-grain (brown) bread for health benefits? Or pita bread? Or top it off with a thick yogurt? This is a cheaply produced and unhealthy food with a high glycemic index.

    On another note: Over here in Boston, all of our Desi restaurants SUCKS. They add sugar and cream to everything – including sambaar, which shouldn’t have cream in it. Moreover, they use vinegar instead of tamarind for many recipes.

    Oh yes – Alina, we have a few Pashtun-owned restaurants. “Madina Market” owned by a Pakistani, and very close to it is “Ariana” owned by an Afghani. “Madina Market” is where you want to go to for a stomach upset. Just don’t tell Iqbal, the owner, that I said that. “Ariana” is good food, but I can tell that the owner there, Najib, sources his products from an Italian food provider.

    I wish that these Indian proprietors were less money-minded, and more focused on creating great, respectable foods like the French/Italian.

  9. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the dosa cart in New York as an example of authentic street food! (Though it’s been mentioned a fair amount in the past, but since I’m not from NY, it’s still a real novelty for me, ha.)

    On the topic of fusion cuisine, I think the best stuff comes from natural mixes of cultures. Alina, the Brazilian-Japanese crossover sounds 1. really interesting, and 2. really logical, because there’s a fairly sizable Brazilian population throughout Japan, so it’d make sense that certain kinds of hybrid foods would arise from that…like Indo-Chinese food, for example. And you have stuff like cheese dosas, and some people I know make sandwiches out of/stuff puff pastries with pav bhaji and other curries.

    (However, I draw the line at things like this lovely little place in Atlanta called Chico and Chang’s, which exists (existed?) mainly to capitalize on the demand for both cuisines among local college students, and offered one really dubious crossover “Chinese burrito”. I also wasn’t really fond of the “Indian pizza” at Zante Pizza in San Francisco, which serves up both kinds of foods separately and in crossover dishes.)

  10. With Vik’s being some kind of venerated Berkeley institution (c.1980s) that imports its own groceries, and JBC being brand new and using Acme Bread, I doubt they’re competing in the who’s better game. It would be like asking if jalebis are better than samosas. :)