Kathi Rolls of San Francisco
Over the last year, Kasa has grown in fame for their kathi rolls, chef’s London School of Economics pedigree, and their modern hip taqueria look at the intersection of Fillmore and Filbert. Last weekend, after a long walk through the neighborhood of Pacific Heights, we found ourselves at Kasa ready to chowdown on as many rolls as our stomach could hold.
Kathi roll (or kati roll) is Calcutta’s contribution to street food – kababs, egg, and condiments wrapped around a fried flat bread. The bread is really at the heart of the roll – made with refined flour – it is soft, chewy and flaky at the same time – a container for an explosion of tastes and flavors. Read more about eating kathi rolls of Calcutta here.
We opted for aloo gobi (potato-cauliflower) roll, their special of the day and anda style turkey roll i.e. with egg. The bread was made with whole wheat which while lacking in the traditional chewiness, made up in nuttiness – hearty. The turkey kababs were competently done. Ground turkey meat was mixed with spices and made into meatballs – they were juicy.
The aloo gobi was unfortunately, disappointing. Typically cubes of potato and florets of cauliflower are wok roasted together with spices and clarified butter. Kasa had wet cooked the vegetables in lowish amount of fat and spices – it was lacking in texture and flavor. Oh well….serves me right for eating vegetarian kathi rolls. Bengalis are not vegetarians – even when cooking zucchini, we throw a handful of shrimps into that.
The chutneys accompanying the rolls were not your typical ones – the coriander one looked like blender gone wrong. I think they were meant to convey a home cooked look – although I have never seen it looking like that at any home. They salad accompaniment was perfectly diced but completely unadorned – no salt or lime or crushed cumin – spices typical to Indian salads. The combination of competence and lack of taste explosion in my mouth tells me that this menu was carefully crafted to convey a sense of home cooked healthy food. As a Bengali, I wash my hands off these kathi rolls but as a nouveau Indian food loving Californian I applaud the London School of Economics brain for putting together this successful restaurant in Pacific Heights.
There was a street fair on Filbert going on and Kasa had a stall there. The air was festive and the views from surrounding hilly streets gorgeous.