Chai Pani is the new south Indian spot located in the old Watershed location in downtown Decatur. It's a large, well-lit space that gives the feel of a moderately upscale restaurant, coupled with the casualness of chaat. The service was friendly and very helpful.
I started with the matchstick okra fries, which were my favorite. The okra was cut paper thin---I'm very impressed with their slicing technique---and fried to melt in your mouth. The okra flavor comes through extremely clearly. Overall, the taste of fresh vegetables was the consistent theme of the restaurant. A typical chaat restaurant is making fast food and the flavors can get a little lost. The artisanal approach to chaat gives the old standards some real punch.
This is a mixed vegetable uttapam. The pancake is thicker than a French crepe and a little thinner than an American pancake, resulting in a hearty meal. The mixture of fresh vegetables on top popped out with vegetable flavor, making a great combination with the pancake. The vegetable stew served as the side was spicy enough to get your attention but not overpowering. I had chai to drink; the tea and milk were in perfect balance.
I love papadum, so I finished the meal with an order. They were a great treat. Both the tamarind and mint chutneys were excellent.