How can one review a Kerala restaurant without sampling their seafood and beef preparations? So I preferred to go along with a few other foodies, who are quite prominent in the Chennai Food Scene, with a palate for beef and seafood. So this review is a sort of a mix of opinions of a few individuals based on what each one sampled. Lets call them N, G, K and myself.
The plan was to meet sharp at 13:30, and guess what, all four of us were ‘almost’ on dot, settled down and ready to order. The restaurant is bang on Haddows Road, right next to Krishnavillasam. In fact, it is so prominent that it is difficult to miss. There is a limited parking for a few cars, however, valet is available, so that doesn’t really matter. It was an almost-packed house when we entered. After a quick glance at the menu, we ordered the starters, quite attractively called ‘Touchings’ here 🙂
We ordered Syrian Irachi Fry, Koonthal Fry, Mutton Coconut Fry, Kck Chicken Fry, and koon Pepper Fry. There was a clear brief explanation of what each dish was, so we had no problems in figuring our what each one was.
Syrian Irachi Fry was tenderloin/beef fry made more like a sukka. N sampled it and felt the beef was a bit chewy, so we had to send it back. Koonthal Fry was deep fried calamari, and our friends N and G seemed to like it. Mutton Coconut fry was small pieces of mutton cooked with coconut shavings and perhaps coconut oil too, typically Keralaish. I sampled a bit of it and liked it. Kck Chicken Fry, was deep fried Chicken leg piece, and I loved it. Koon Pepper Fry was the only vegetarian starter of the whole lot, amazing to say the least. I have never had crispy deep fried mushroon, ever! Every piece was so crispy and I loved it, and so did K.
What was meant to be an anonymous lunch was no longer so, because Chef Regi Mathew, by now, had already come to say a hello to our table. Thereafter he took over and suggested what we should be trying! We got a plate of Kozhuva Fry and a plate of Kakka Irachi. Kozhuva was small-sized anchovies as I understood, and it looked crispy and deep fried. N & G seemed to like it. However, Kakka Irachi, the Kerala Clams didn’t impress them much. They felt it was too hard and sent it back.
Coming to the main course, Pazhampori Pothu Curry, Ramassery Idly, Ramapuram Kozhi Curry, Vattayappam, and Pathiri was all served to us. We relished everything. I loved the soft and spongy Ramassery Idly along with the Kozhi Curry, it was yummy! Pathiri was soft, and somewhere between a dosa and a phulka 😀 Way too soft and it disappeared in a jiffy. Pazhampori wasn’t hot, but tasted good and though it was strangely served with Pothu Curry, I ate it with Kozhi Curry. Why not ?!? 🙂 Vattayappam had a slightly fermented sweet tinge to it, tasted good.
We also were served KadaChakka Curry, which was basically gravy made from breadfruit, quite from the same Jackfruit family, and it tasted quite good. There was a chutney made with pineapple and grapes and that was wonderful too, licked the plate clean. Main course was more satisfying to me in terms of what I could eat, unlike starters. 🙂
We were quite stuffed and the thought of a Sulaimani was welcoming, we ordered one each and it was awesome! Most places in Chennai serve a Sulaimani which is no different from a regular black tea, but this one, was just how I like it!
Coming to the desserts, we shared and sampled a few of what was available on the menu, Kandhari Icecream, Unnakkai and Pazham Nanachathu. Kandhari icecream was a in-house speciality, one of its kind. Whoever came up with an idea that an icecream could also have another dimension of chilli, hats off to them, it tasted superb! It was basically a pleasant conflict of tastes, sweet, hot and sweet again! Unnakkai was deep-fried nendram with a coconut and jaggery stuffing, tasted good. Pazham Nanachathu was basically sun-dried nendram pazham mixed with jaggery and coconut and a syrup called ‘Paani’, which is reduced Toddy before fermentation. We got a bit of it to taste, and it was awesome indeed ! We loved the desserts and also the company of Chef Regi Mathew all the while we had desserts. He explained the pain in sourcing each of the ingredients from his native, including the curry leaves.
Finally we also had a tour of his state-of-the-art kitchen that he has made on the floor above where he proposes to conduct workshops, private lunch and dinners. It was absolutely awesome with entire range from Siemens, any Chef would love to have.
After insisting that we wouldn’t leave without paying, we got a bill of 1840 bucks, and I did see that quite a few items weren’t included in it, either deliberately or by mistake, I am not quite sure! N paid the bill and wouldn’t let any of us even look at it 🙂 Overall, a wonderful lunch and even better company!
Service left a lot to be desired, and I would gladly overlook that because they are yet to settle down, and it takes a while for anyone to get into a routine. The basics, such as clearing the plates off the table, refilling water in your glasses should have been done, no matter what! That fell short of expectations. Nevertheless, I think they will take care of it, immediately.
One thing I would love to mention about the starters – the portion size was so nicely planned that you could actually order 3 of them for 2 people without getting stuffed. That’s one thing most places miss out on. If you look at it quantitatively, it does feel pricey, but the attempt at recreating the typical Grandma’s recipes is well worth the premium. I would gladly come back again to try quite a few items on the menu – Kappa Vevichathu, Avial, Mor, Pidikozhi Curry, and Pazhan Kanji, which I missed today.
Kappa Chakka Kandhari definitely brings a fresh twist to the otherwise standard options for Kerala cuisine in Chennai. I would love to come back again, soon!
p.s – The bill included a Service Charge of 10%, which I noticed just now. Please be informed.