Rohit Ghai — the chef who opened his first solo restaurant in Chelsea last week — has been announced as a surprise new entrant in the forthcoming shipping-container-shopping-centre Boxpark in Wembley. Though the centre opens this coming weekend (8 December), Ghai’s outlet will launch in the new year.
The brand, KoolCha, will serve an “extensive menu of Indian comfort food,” including a selection of North Indian kulcha flatbreads, which will be “filled with innovative flavours and served alongside delicious homemade pickles and chutneys,” an announcement share with Eater this lunchtime said.
KoolCha has been conceived by Ghai and his business partner (at Kutir), front-of-house Abhishake Sangwan. The two have a long working history, at a number of London’s most popular south Asian restaurants, including Michelin-starred Gymkhana and Jamavar. (Ghai oversaw the kitchen at the latter, when it earned a star within 10 months of his arrival; following his departure, the restaurant was downgraded in when Michelin announced the 2019 in October.)
Roger Wade, Boxpark’s CEO said the company was thrilled. “KoolCha’s Chef Rohit has worked at an impressive number of world class restaurants and we have no doubt that KoolCha will be no different. Who knows, could this be the first Michelin star for Boxpark?”
It’s an interesting move for Ghai. London is a city which for the past 10 years has privileged the “street food” to bricks and mortar trajectory. This year, as demonstrated by Marksman, Koya, and Roti King (at Market Halls Victoria), a reverse move from proper site to concession within a food court is a new and attractive, comparatively risk-free, way to pilot a new concept or test a different audience.
Although the early signs at Market Halls in Victoria are positive, the move did not work for Darjeeling’s Asma Khan at Market Halls in Fulham, and a number of outlets that comprise the The Kitchens in Spitalfields have closed since it opened in the autumn of 2017.