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May 5 at Kasa Marina: Indian Laundry special dinner

I’m very excited to invite you to a special dinner that we’ve cheekily dubbed “Indian Laundry” at Kasa Marina on May 5th at 8:30pm.  For just a few hours, we’re going to deviate from our relaxed counter-service to bring you a treat: a full-service five course sit down meal that I will personally prepare, with each course paired with wine by the extremely talented sommelier Mark Bright from Saison.  Mark and I will host the dinner.

We want the experience to be communal and intimate, so expect to eat family style, make new friends, try amazing wines and push your culinary boundaries.  We’ve limited the dinner to the first 16 people who reserve tickets by calling Kasa’s co-owner Tim at 917-535-0148 to pre-pay. Tickets costs $75 – click here for the menu and more information.

So why are we doing this?
At Kasa, our regular offerings are comprised of our favourite six dishes (plus a couple daily specials), alongside our favourite chutneys and raita. But there is so so much more to Indian food, as it is a complex cuisine with a never ending list of dishes and regional styles.
At our Indian Laundry event, I want to showcase Punjabi food a level deeper than you might normally find.  I want to highlight the cuisine’s ability to take an ingredient to its highest potential using herbs, spices, fats (in moderation) and heat (both fire and sunlight) to produce delicious and sometimes surprising results.  At the same time, I want the meal to be subtle enough where guests can taste the ingredients and  feel good afterwards. To me, this is the ultimate fine dining.
This isn’t always easy to do, as some foods are easy to love (french fries, sweet and sour deep fried anything) , whilst others require a little more sophistication of the palette, and a little more foresight about how you might feel later on.  Indian food, at it’s best, is able to achieve this.
My menu for Indian laundry is intended to bring potentially unfamiliar and interesting flavours like fresh bitter yet addictive fenugreek leaves (not normally found in a restaurant but a regular Punjabi household fare), and deeper richer tastes like Saag Lamb to the table.  We’ll also have achaar (pickles) that are currently out in the sun souring in my garden and a variety of unique chutneys to enhance the meal further.   Some of these flavours are bitter, some are sweet and some tangy, all with the use of amazing ingredients like tamarind, jaggery or celery seeds.

Some of these dishes can be difficult to do on a normal basis at Kasa because of the time it takes in the sun for instance, or when certain dishes cannot hold up to large batch cooking, or crunchy savoury pakoras become soggy if not served immediately.

I’m also grateful to Mark Bright for recognizing this potential in my cooking and agreeing to pair and serve the wine on the night.  (Mark also designed our wine lists at Kasa.) We’ve become friends through our joined love of good things in taste (food and wine) as well as our love for taking people through that journey with us.  And so we are putting together Indian Laundry at Kasa.

I hope to see some of you at the event.  Get your tickets today!

Punjabi Santa

It’s 2010, the holiday season is over, and I’m glad!  Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like the holidays…. using up all my patience putting up lights on the tree, overeating, mandatory time with the family, missing folks back home and shopping (I hate shopping!). The highlights of this holiday season for me were:

  • Suresh’s joke about the ’Punjabi Santa’ (like Santa, he has a beard, is tall and plump, and say Hoy Hoy Hoy)
  • Going to Winter Wonderland in Tilden Park in Berkeley with the kids
  • Dancing to Country, Salsa and Hip Hop at the Kasa Staff Holiday Party

But I couldn’t relax, as in the midst of all this, K2 (aka Kasa Marina) launched and Tim and Mer had their third baby (aka V3).  This should have been a time of only serious hard work for us, and whilst all of us at Kasa put that work in, it had to be so stop and start because of the holidays.  We literally had to force ourselves not to think or do any work on Xmas day and spend it with our families, and try to understand that the government and rest of the country were going slower because of the holidays.

So I’m glad that life is back to normality and we can just steam ahead with work now, as we have a lot more ahead of us.  The pressure is on high, not only because we have a bigger space and higher rent at K2.  We opened around December 19, and these first few weeks have been pretty steady but not that many people in the Marina know that we exist yet and we need customers flooding in.

Whilst it’s exhilarating and satisfying to have a successful restaurant or to get some wonderful press,  margins in our business are slim so we have to be super successful to make it all add up, and that pressure extends all the way through to our staff. Our staff need their hours maxed out (or else we lose them) to make rent, support families here and back home, put themselves through school or, like our Line Cook Extraordinaire Gomez who is about to have his first baby, just survive in SF. The emotional pressure of being successful is intense as our families, staff, vendors and on and on rely on us.  More customers means more hours for our staff, which means more tips (which is vital to their livelihood) and ultimately more raises.

So instead of waiting around for the Punjabi Santa to deliver a bushel of money, we’ve come up with our own Kasa Plan of Action:

  1. Continue to keep the food as excellent as humanly possible
  2. Continue to train our staff to provide warm, wonderful service, even if on occasion you have to deal with a not-so-pleasant customer
  3. Community outreach and education in the Marina — introduce ourselves and turn people on to delicious, homestyle Indian food
  4. Connect with all of our customers as much as possible…like through this blog :)

I’m confident that with a little more time and work, we will all reap the rewards of our hard work, all whilst consistently giving our endless love to Kasa Castro.  In the meanwhile, we thank you all for your continued support and hope that you’ll pass the word to your friends.

Love, Anamika