Back in the ’90s, Americans didn’t have a great understanding of Indian food, thinking it was weird or overly spicy, or seeing it through the lens of problematic cultural touchpoints like “The Simpsons” or “Indiana Jones.”
That was the experience of Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod, the cofounders of Washington, D.C.-based fast casual RASA. The childhood friends grew up in the restaurant industry — their fathers own and operate Bombay Bistro and Indique in the D.C. area — and were often embarrassed by the foods of their heritage.
With RASA, they’re out to change that perception of Indian cuisine. The fast casual sticks to authentic flavors but plays with the menu descriptions and restaurant design to create something more familiar and comfortable for American audiences. The brand has expanded to four locations in the D.C. metro area and is preparing for further growth in the nation’s capital and beyond.
Rahman and Vinod joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to discuss why Americans need to update their perceptions of global cuisines, how hard it is to scale from one location to four and how different it is to open a restaurant in the suburbs.
In this conversation, you’ll find out why:
- For emerging and global cuisines, Americans need an update on perception
- Perception is as much about the environment and experience as it is about the food
- When it comes to authenticity, focus on flavors
- The fast casual industry is an important conduit for cultural change
Contact Sam Oches at [email protected].