Us Aucklanders love a hidden gem. Be it a secret cafe, swimming spot or walk, it’s the undiscovered spots that bring the most delight. So, when we caught whiff Auckland has a secret chai lounge, we had to check it out for ourselves.
It wasn’t easy to find (as most hidden things are). I had arranged to meet my friend at said chai lounge. “Where is it exactly?” she’d messaged me. “Ahh, I’m not too sure,” I replied. Not the answer she was looking for, I imagine.
As it turns out, Satya Spice And Chai Shop is hidden down a narrow alleyway off Sandringham Road. Hesitantly, we followed the alleyway and found a curtain made from an old coffee sack. I felt like Alice stepping out from the rabbit hole as we entered the chai lounge. It was—in one word—magical.
Coffee sacks draped from the ceiling and lined the walls of the small space. Old wooden spools were used as tables and surrounded by stools made from tree trunks and cushioned beer crates. There were pops of sprawling plants and fairy lights twinkled from above (although I wouldn’t be surprised if they were REAL fairies).
We were welcomed by mastermind behind the space Samrudh Akuthota aka Sammy. His parents own Auckland’s much-loved Satya South Indian Restaurants and encouraged him to follow his dreams of making a unique chai lounge. Satya Spice And Chai Shop specialises in beer, cocktails, hookah, India street food and—you guessed it—chai.
The blackboard menu is as unique as the space itself. There are cocktails “made with love by my good friend Robbie G” as well as sake, wine and more than 30 beers.
The beer menu is divided into three sections: interesting beer (subject to availabrew), boring beer and limited specials. The extensive list includes the likes of Deep Creek, Hallertau, Tuatara, Good George and Yestie Boys. You can also order a can of VB—although it will set you back a cool $40. Sammy jokes this is the price you pay for having terrible taste!
On this particular visit, my friend and I were here for chai and nibbles. There are no crap chai syrups and powders in sight at Satya Spice And Chai! Instead, the comforting drinks are made from a flavoursome blend of aromatic Indian spices made next door in the adjourning spice shop. Without word of a lie, it was the best chai I’ve ever had.
We felt it necessary to eat our way through the Indian street food menu. When in
Rome Sandringham, right?
We started with dahi puri bites starring layers of potato, chickpeas, yoghurt and topped with sweet tamarind chutney. There were so many flavours in just one mouthful—it was a delightful a treat for the taste buds!
We then moved on to equally delicious idli fry. The bite-sized rice and lentil cakes had a fluffy inside with a satisfying crunch of the outside. The dish was paired with coconut chutney for dipping—yum!
We also devoured plates of cut mirchi (fried battered chilli) and spicy chicken before finishing off with cheese and crackers, Indian-style. I’m talking house-made chickpea crackers served with Puhoi cheese and date chutney. What an absolute feast!
As we both slipped into food comas we reflected on the magical experience we’d had. As I said, it’s the undiscovered spots that bring the most delight. Until we meet again, Satya Spice And Chai Shop.
For more details on Satya Spice And Chai Shop, including opening hours, click here.
Image credit: Kellie Blizard