Indian restaurants are plentiful throughout the Bay Area; they run the gamete from traditional North India curry houses, to South Indian restaurant, and further to chaat spots. Then there’s Kasa in the Castro. Serving kathi rolls (an Indian version of a burrito) and thalis (an Indian version of a sampling plate), Kasa is creating authentic home-style fare in an appealing to the masses fashion; and we’re hooked. The appeal of Kasa is that (1) the food is made fresh to emulate what’s cooked in Indian homes; (2) the services line is a la Chipotle with plates assembled in front of you; (3) capitalizing on progressive pallets of Bay Area foodies; and (4) word of mouth praise via social media networks.
We’ve ordered take out on several occasions, typically for dinner after I’ve taken a day trip to So Cal for work. Recently, we meet some friends for dinner on a chilly summer night in SF. Although it’s close to Castro St, you won’t find any tourist here, only locals. The menu is simple - either select thali or kathi roll. The thali comes with your choice two curries (from a selection of 6 to 8), rice, paratha (flat bread), lentil daal, mint chutney, and a side slaw. For the roll, you choose one of the curries as the stuffing. They come small so order two if you want to make it a meal. There are ample choices for vegetarians and the daily curry specials are almost always vegetarian.
Sheila ordered the thali with karahi paneer and saag paneer. I ordered two kathi rolls – one with karahi paneer, and one with gobi aloo. The fluffy paneer is made fresh at Kasa, not packaged, and you can taste to difference. It breaks apart very easily and is not overly salty like the frozen variety. There hasn’t been a trip to Kasa where we haven’t ordered the karahi paneer. Balance is the first word that comes to mind, the spices are there but there in rhythm with the tomato based sauce rather than overpowering it. Since the paneer is light and airy, all those great spice flavors get infused. This is the karahi paneer by which others should be judged.
The black lentil and kidney bean daal reminds me of what Sheila or my mom would make at home. I won’t even attempt to decipher the Indian spices that have been added, but it just works well. The gobi aloo kathi roll was a pleasant surprise. More parts cauliflower than potato kept this dish from being a carb-fest. There was a distinct taste of cumin and fenugreek within the curry that adds the right amount of kick. The paratha roll itself is made with all-purpose flour and is a bit thicker than a tortilla – sufficient for the amount of curry stuffing added.
However what’s missing in all the dishes is an overabundance of ghee or oil. Because of this, the food tastes healthy and you’d have that heavy feeling in your stomach. We’ll keep going back to Kasa when there’s an urge for Indian take out. So if you don’t get a chance to come by our house for dinner, check out Kasa for the next best thing to home-cooked fare. Note that Kasa is also on Groupons ; we purchased a $40 gift card for $20 and it was totally worth it.