Best Restaurants in Chennai
As for food, we ate at places recommended by friends and never went wrong. Since Madhu and I are now on a ‘Vegetarian only’ mode (which I happily flout occasionally, we weren’t expecting any culinary highs in Chennai. However, we were super surprised with the variety and quality of food on offer – a total delight!
This restaurant was highly recommended by a friend so we went in search of it in the Adyar area. It’s located in a residential area, on the 1st floor of what looks like a residential apartment building. Even though our auto guy didn’t know where it was exactly, Adyar locals knew of it and were able to point us in the right direction. The restaurant is part of an Ayurvedic health resort, which offers the usual ayurvedic treatments and services. The restaurant serves what they advertise as ‘vegetarian health food’. We’ve never had a meal quite like what’s served here. It’s basically an 8-course meal, which is based on Naturopathy and is supposed to be a perfect blend of all nutrients required by the body. The food is prepared in earthen, copper and bronze vessels by experts in this field. Just reading all this was impressive; but the food was even better!
The meal started off with some sliced bananas garnished with coconut shavings. Then we were presented with 5 shot glasses filled with juices of dates, milk from nuts, vegetable clear soup, buttermilk and bran rice water. They all looked weird and colorful but were definitely tasty! Then came a row of uncooked vegetable dishes like salads that were placed at the top of the banana leaf before us. We were asked to eat them starting from the right-hand corner. Just as we were finishing this lot, came a row of semi-cooked dishes like the Kerala Pachadi. And then came a row of fully cooked vegetable dishes followed by some yummy red rice. By the time I got to this, I was quite stuffed and couldn’t finish the small mound of white rice that was piled on to the leaf at the end. However, no matter how full I am, I can never miss out on payasam, which was served in a small bowl – it was unbelievably good! Just when I thought that I had finally got through the meal, we were served with a tablespoon of honey, which is supposed to help digestion.
As we walked out of the restaurant, after ‘experiencing’ the meal, we realized that this was probably the nicest ‘healthy’ meal we’d had in our entire lives!
Rating: 10 out of 10Address: New No.76,Venkatarathinam Nagar,Adyar,Chennai Phone: 91 44 65718423 Website: www.cholayilsanjeevanam.com
Murugan Idly Shop
What started off as a small, street-side Idly Kadai is now a full-fledge Idly Shop serving patrons in several locations across Chennai and Madurai. This place was recommended in the guidebooks and by friends who live in Chennai. In fact, our friends escorted us to dinner at one of Murugan’s nicer locations where food was served by gloved servers. I never knew Idlis could be this exciting!
Food is served traditionally on banana leaves and there’s no menu card as such. There’s not much choice really – it’s either Idlis or the different varieties of Dosas or Uthappams on offer. Servers keep bringing hot Idlis and Vadas by the table asking if we would like more.
I’ve had Idlis millions of times at home, at friends’ homes, at relatives’ homes and on occasion, at restaurants too. But none of them could beat the softness and yummy-ness of Murugan’s Idlis – they were just purely heavenly! The minute we took one bite, we knew why there were people queuing up outside for a seat in the restaurant – they were just that good. Of course, the rest of the stuff – dosas, vadas, filter coffee – was equally good! At least 5 different chutneys are offered along with the Idlis. I’m a big Sambar fan but for once I couldn’t stop dunking the Idly in these chutneys, which were just absolutely mind-blowing!
Overall, Murugan’s is a crowded, busy restaurant with no ambience to offer. But then nobody goes there for the ambience. The Idlis simply rule!
Rating: 10 out of 10Address: Triplicane/T Nagar/Besant Nagar, Chennai Website: http://www.muruganidlishop.com
We hadn’t heard or read of this restaurant until it was recommended by a friend who said that it was similar in quality as the Cholayil Sanjeevanam restaurant. This was enough to make us give it a try and we came away impressed!
Tucked in a corner across from the US consulate buildings and at a busy traffic junction, Vegnation offers buffets on weekends as well as an Ala carte menu, which looked quite interesting. However, Madhu and I opted for their South Indian Thali, which was absolutely delectable. It came with a variety of dishes, rotis, rice and a sweet dish. Madhu and I ordered a couple of fruit drinks as well and these were simply superb!
The restaurant is tastefully decorated and plays good music maintaining a cool, lounge feel. Prices are very reasonable considering the lovely setting.
Rating: 9 out of 10Address: #602, Gemini Parsn Manere, Anna Salai Road, Chennai Phone: 91 44 64502042
The same friends, who took us to Murugan’s Idly Shop and recommended Vegnation, took us to Kumarakom as well. Since we were all Malayalis, it was just fitting for all of us to dine at one of Chennai’s most popular Kerala food joint.
With several locations across Chennai, Kumarakom serves up some of the most basic Kerala food with aplomb. They serve both veg as well as non-veg stuff but since we were all in the mood for vegetarian food only, that’s all we ordered. We ate Puttu with Kadala curry and Appams with Veg Stew, all of which was unbelievably good! I wish we had tried their non-veg fare as well!
The decor and ambience of the restaurant was fairly standard and is nothing to write about. It’s quite obvious that they thrive on the quality of the food they serve rather than the ambience provided.
Rating : 9/10Address: Kodambakkam High Rd, Nungambakkom, Chennai Website: www.kumarakomrestaurant.com