Yalies who are on the quest for some Indian food are about to have another option close to home. Sherkaan, an Indian street food restaurant, will open its doors in a month’s time and will be located just outside the gates of Ezra Stiles College on 65 Broadway, at the former location of the now-closed restaurant Thali Too.
Ankit Harpaldas, the owner of Sherkaan, hired Connecticut muralist Ben Keller and branding company Box 8 Creative to design the restaurant. In addition to the name — which is not only Hindi for “tiger-king,” but also a pun on the Hindi word for street — they decided on the restaurant’s interior design, which includes a mural of Indian passengers boarding a train along one wall. Rows of bikes are suspended from the ceiling and will hang above diners.
“The overall theme is an old-world urban India. Even the lighting in here is to replicate if you walked down a street in India,” Harpaldas said.
Harpaldas brought Bryan Burke, the former head chef of Harpaldas’ other restaurant, Taprock Beer Bar, in Farmington, Connecticut to be head chef at Sherkaan. Harpaldas hopes that Burke, who has expertise in American cooking, will make the food more approachable, and Burke is “really excited to make a splash in New Haven.” It is Harpaldas’ plan to offer the public a more authentic Indian cuisine.
“When people think Indian food they think chicken tikka masala, but that’s not actually real Indian food — that’s British-inspired Indian food,” Harpaldas said. “People think Indian food, and they think spicy, but not all spices have a kick. We are hoping to get rid of some of these common misunderstandings about Indian food.”
Armin Thomas ’21, a resident of Morse College, expressed enthusiasm that Sherkaan is a stone’s throw away from him, noting that he will no longer have to see 85 Broadway “gather dust.” He also said that the food at Thali Too, which served vegetarian Indian food, was “generally pretty good,” and he noted that Sherkaan has big shoes to fill.
Overall, though, Thomas is curious about how Sherkaan’s emphasis on street food will pan out, as it is not something he has eaten in a while or seen. He was surprised to see that street food would be served in a restaurant setting, given the wide diversity of dishes and preparation styles.
Harpaldas does not know the exact reason why Thali Too closed, but he said it does not matter to him. Harpaldas instead placed emphasis on his goal of raising the standard of the Indian restaurant.
Burke described the past nine months of preparations as “nerve-wracking,” but said that he is now calm and looking forward to the opening.
Nine months ago, Burke did not know “anything at all about Indian food,” and so in preparation he has traveled and worked with Chai Pani, an Indian street food restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, in addition to other restaurants in the tri-state area. He is amazed by all Indian food has to offer.
“Harpaldas has introduced me to a whole new culture … and it just seems endless,” Burke said. “It’s been really cool — there’s so much I wasn’t close to knowing about, and learning has been a fun journey.”
Harpaldas said the pricing will make Sherkaan comfortable and accessible for students; he plans to “serve good food and good drinks to everyone.”
Thali Too opened its doors in 2008.
Kofi Ansong | firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Li | email@example.com