Shanghai Restaurant Review: Khan Chacha

By Cristina Ng, January 2, 2020

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The Place

While fusion sometimes gets a bad rap, when it comes to Indo-Persian cuisine the cross-pollination dates back to the medieval Mughal Empire. In Jing’an district’s Westgate Mall, Khan Chacha celebrates the Turko-Persian influence on the cookery of India and Central Asia.

The match makes sense, and the newly opened eatery turns out flavorsome, yet delicately spiced plates of food in earnest. The founder hails from Kerala and spent time in Qatar, so he has a broad understanding of the culinary traditions he wants to share with Shanghai.

The Food

The menu is long and full of tempting choices, so we recommend you come with a group of four or more for the best experience; as a twosome, we ordered more than was necessary.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Leaning towards the Levantine end of the spectrum, the Mezze Platter (RMB85) has generously sized portions of hummus, baba ghanoush and beet moutabel. Bread and crudites are par for the course, but we were pleasantly surprised by the addition of a crispy vegetarian pakoda and a falafel. All three dips are fantastic. The creamy hummus ranks among the city’s best, while the baba ghanoush balances the bitter notes of eggplant with sweet pepper and the beet moutabel is packed with flavor from cardamom, garlic, tahini and good olive oil.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

We were also feeling the clove spiced Lamb Keema Sliders with Pav Bread (RMB60). They are like Bombay-style sloppy joes that blow the ones we ate as children out of the water.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

The Paneer Tikka (RMB49) entrée is a block of smoked Indian cottage cheese that comes with a shot glass of cilantro mint chutney. Although crazy good, this is one of the only dishes that seems small for the price.

Moroccan Grilled Chicken (RMB60) is a well-seasoned chicken leg quarter, served with herb couscous. Our only complaint is that the dry herbs are quite woody, breaking up the nice texture of the semolina.


Images by Cristina Ng/That's

A well-executed Dal Bukhara (RMB48) has us itching to dive further into the Indian side of the menu on our next visit. The lentils swim in a smoky tomato puree with butter and a lashing of dairy cream ideal for ladling into your mouth with any of their warm breads – Roti (RMB10), Paratha (RMB10) or our favorite Amul Cheese and Chili Naan (RMB15).  

Food Verdict: 2.5/3

The Vibe

It’s hard to get excited about a restaurant in a shopping center, and the Westgate Mall is about as uncool as they come. Still, Khan Chacha has friendly service and food worthy of a detour. Cocktails starting from RMB40 don’t hurt the situation either. If you still can’t be convinced to dine in-house, they are also available via Sherpa’s and Eleme with decent discounts on the latter platform. 

Vibe Verdict: 1/2

Total Verdict: 3.5/5

Price: RMB150-250 per person
Who’s going: mostly expats, curry lovers
Good for: quick lunches, quick dinners

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]

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