An unplanned dinner with a friend led me to Jus T café, an amazing place that ticked all the right marks when it comes to visiting again. It was already late in terms of dinner time and we wanted to grab a quick dinner before we parted. Hence, we decided to search for places in and around Edapally so as to not waste time travelling. We zeroed in on a couple of places but finally decided to try this wonderful restaurant since it came with high recommendations from my friend.
Located inside Oberon Mall on the 4th floor, it is not difficult to find the place at all. As we walked in, I couldn’t help but notice the warm, welcoming ambience and the friendly attitude of the staff. The place wasn’t crowded and hence we got to choose our seating. The interiors are done tastefully with attention to details and I loved how the dim lighting just lifted the whole ambience.
A few minutes after we were settled comfortably in our seats, we were given the menu. The menu here was a pleasant change from the usual, with a lot of variety dishes that you rarely see elsewhere. I loved scouting through their menu that I sat more than a few minutes just reading through it and understanding each dish that they offered. There were some amazing grills and starters in the menu and their tea range is quite noteworthy.
Couple of weeks ago, it was my husband’s birthday and I was looking for a great place to take him out for a quiet dinner. I was looking for a new type of cuisine as we both are fond of trying out new flavours. And when Asian Kitchen popped as an option on Zomato, I thought, why not. I didn’t think there was any need for reservations as it was a weekday night. So we sauntered in casually by 9 for a laid back dinner. I was impressed by the word go and so was the birthday boy! Located at the Cochin Club near Parade Grounds, the place is truly a hidden gem.
The colonial inspired place decorated with pretty lanterns is perfect for a date night with your special someone. The ambience and music puts you in the mood for some really sumptuous Asian fare. The place was almost empty except for a two other tables that were occupied. Which was a shame as the food was simply superb! So, it almost felt as though we had the place all to ourselves, which is also thanks to the knowledgeable, attentive, staff.
We started with a Japanese soya paste soup or miso soup and an assorted platter of dim sums. Now, while miso makes for a great base for a broth, the dried fish is an acquired taste, especially if you are like me and don’t prefer dry fish- the flavour and saltiness is a tad too strong for me! My husband surprisingly enjoyed it- surprising is the term here, since he usually doesn’t favour seafood.
We were roaming around the city late in the night wondering where to go for dinner, when suddenly we realised we haven’t been to one of the much hyped places in the city recently. Café TVM, located in Vazhuthacaud, has been the talk of the town for a while now and the moment the name popped up we knew where we were going to have our dinner that night.
While the restaurant is in the basement, the part of the building, facing the road, serves as their take away counter. As we walked down the stairs, the place felt quite welcoming.
I loved the cheery, orange walls and the framed pictures of Trivandrum landmarks that adorned each table. Since it was quite late in the night, the place wasn’t quite crowded and we made ourselves comfortable in one of the corner seats. As we sat waiting for someone to assist us with placing the order, we drooled over all the lovely items listed in the menu, confused about what to order. Although the place was empty, it took a while for the staff to come over to our table to take the order. Sadly, though, half the dishes that we asked for weren’t available – The Vazhakkappam with beef, God’s Own Chicken Fry and even Pathiri. Finally, after much dilly-dallying with the menu, we placed our order for a Veg Kothu Parotta, chicken Kothu Parotta, Parottas, Chilli Chicken and Schezwan Noodles. A few minutes into placing the order, we were told that the Kothu Parotta and Parotta too isn’t available – a moment when we almost thought we should maybe come back to this place some other time and have dinner elsewhere that night. However, finally we were told that we could be served our order including the Kothu Parotta and Parottas.
All the dishes came within a reasonable time period and we started greedily digging into the dishes. Considering the disappointing start we had, we had a wonderful time tasting all the dishes that we ordered. The Parottas were flaky and layered well and it perfectly paired up with the saucy, spicy, Chilli Chicken. We sat there having countless parottas and fighting for the last piece and it was indeed worth the wait. The Schezwan Noodles too were commendable. I loved that it was not too oily as compared to many other places and the heat was well balanced too. The portion size is reasonable and can be shared well between 2-3 people. What stood out to me, though, was the Kothu Parottas. I may be a bit biased here, since I am an ardent fan of Kothu Parottas, but I must say, these were amazing. Perfectly shredded and mixed well with the chicken, the Kothu Parotta was definitely the star of the day. I loved how they had the veg version of the usual chicken Kothu Parotta and I am happy that the Veg Kothu Parotta was not a let down as compared to its chicken counter part. Rather, it was at par with the chicken Kothu Parotta in terms of taste and balance of flavours.
A sweet-craving post lunch led my friend and me to try out The Chocolate Room. Located inside Lulu Mall at the second floor, it wasn’t difficult for us to reach there neither did we have any difficulty to find it. Tucked in one silent corner of the second floor, slightly bigger than a hole in the wall and with the smell of cocoa wafting in the air, I fell in love with how this small café looked and felt.
We couldn’t contain our excitement as we walked into this tiny café, dreaming and talking about the delicacies that we would order. Once there, and having gone through the menu, we were confused as to what to order – we wanted them all! Finally, we settled for a Ferrero Rocher shake, Death by Chocolate Pancake, Tandoori Paneer Sandwich and Tandoori Chicken Sandwich. We decided to wait for the order at the open bench outside the café, in the alley. We sat talking and playing with the kids, and before we knew, we had the Ferrero Rocher shake on the table. One sip each and all of us were fighting for the drink. It was rich yet refreshing, chocolaty and the subtle taste of Ferrero Rocher in the shake took the taste a notch higher. In contrast to many other places where shakes tend to taste too syrupy and artificial, this was a pleasant change. As we sat relishing the shake, the Death by Chocolate pancake was served. We were eagerly looking forward to it and the wait didn’t disappoint us. It was quite appealing and we dug in straight away without even waiting to get a proper photo of the dish. Layers of hot chocolate pancake drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – need I say more? I loved how the heat from the warm buttery pancake blended beautifully with the cold ice cream in the mouth. You really can’t stop at one spoon! The pancake was cooked at the right thickness and it perfectly nailed the chocolate part – neither too minimal nor too overpowered with bitterness. This was one of the best pancake dishes that I’ve ever had and I can go on and on about how utterly delicious it was.
We also ordered two sandwiches to cut the sweetness from all the cocoa – a tandoori paneer sandwich and a tandoori chicken sandwich. These sandwiches were indeed a refreshing break from all the chocolate goodness. Grilled to perfection and stuffed generously with the filling, which I must say, were flavourful and spiced well, the sandwiches were up to the mark. Yet, amongst all the chocolate goodness it failed to create a mark of its own. The shake, and especially the pancakes were a level apart with the perfect blend of taste and creativity, that the sandwiches got side-lined.
Birds of the same feather flock together, goes the saying. And that’s exactly the reason why the EAT group on Facebook has become a huge hit among the foodie crowd in Trivandrum. Started by Arvind Soju, an IT professional working in Pune, for the love of food and inspired by the ‘Pune Eat Outs’ food group on Facebook, the Eat At Trivandrum, more popularly known as EAT, group has been the most sought after group among the food lovers in Trivandrum in the last one year. Conceptualized and started in the October of 2015, the idea of EAT, as per Arvind, was to have something good for the food lovers in Trivandrum, that would have a positive impact both on the customers and the restaurants.
The initial members of the group were Arvind’s friends who then added their food enthusiast friends, and now, this foodie group stands in a position where there is no looking back. It took almost a year to gain momentum, a year of patiently waiting to see the group would flourish, where it took so much effort on Arvind’s part to keep the group going by posting about food and restaurants in Trivandrum, pointers on what he expected from the group and likewise. Now, at 33,000 members and counting, the group receives around 400-500 requests a day and the group has definitely had an impact on the food scene in Trivandrum, especially the relation between the restaurants and the customers, that has improved drastically, with the restaurants being more open to positive feedback and eager to improvise based on the customer feedback, and the Trivandrum crowd being equally enthusiastic about the food and restaurant options. The main protocol while screening requests, is to accept requests only from people who are associated with Trivandrum, adds Aslam, one of the moderators.
As the group expanded, Arvind, through the group, came across three likeminded people – Vinay, Aslam and Anjana – who shared his same passion for food, who, currently, along with him, works as the moderators for the group. Between them, they work relentlessly to ensure that the group is free from spam by making sure that every post gets their attention and if a post is against the group’s policies or is offensive in nature, then the particular member would be messaged to modify the post, failing which it will be deleted. There are also certain unwritten guidelines, ones that have evolved through continuous support of the patrons, that are followed to keep up the spirit of the group, mentions Vinay.
Café Papaya has been on my list of places to try out for sometime now, especially after looking at photos of the brilliantly done interiors. So, on a lazy weekday afternoon, my friend and I finalized on this place for lunch.
The café opens only by 1 p.m. and we had to slow ourselves down, as eager as we were, to reach the place just past 1 o’ clock. Tucked away in a bye-lane in Palarivattom, this little café is safely hidden from the hustles and bustles of the main road, yet not quite difficult to locate. We used the google map to be on the safer side and we reached the place without any confusion.
I fell in love with the place from the doorstep – a beautiful house converted into a café with sufficient parking space and openness. There’s a warm, welcoming feel that the place exudes that was reflected throughout the time we spent there. As we entered, we were mesmerized by the beautifully done interiors and efficiently managed space. Beautiful posters adorned the walls and there was a cosy library corner, to your right as you enter, arranged with some amazing books. There is a special dedicated place, a small stage, for live performances and ample seating area around it too.
We chose to sit in the library area, since it gave the feeling of a private space and well, there were books to give us company! As soon as we settled down, we were given the menu. The menu had limited options comparatively, and we ordered for a Mushroom and Bell Pepper Toasties for starters and a Classic Cheese Vegetable Burger and Chicken Steak in Mushroom Veloutte for the main course. Once the order was made, we resumed our chat and we indeed had a fun time, along with the kids, considering that we had the library area to ourselves. The food takes time to be served, but I shouldn’t complain about it since that’s the whole point of a café – take your time to unwind and chat, and not to be rushed through your meal.
The first time I visited 1976 was in 2014, when it was in its nascent stages and the burger scene in Trivandrum was almost nil. I loved everything about the dinner that day – the garden area dining, the music, the ambience, the menu and the food. We had a fun night chatting and laughing as we relished every bite of our meal amongst which, was the best burger we ever had in Trivandrum, and yummy fish and chips. That said, after that, I’ve been recommending the place to practically everyone who asks me for dinner options, I never got an opportunity to go back there and enjoy their burgers over some good music and a chilled out setting.
Last time, though, when I was in Trivandrum, we were wondering where to go for dinner. There were a lot of options in front of us considering the innumerable new restaurants that have come up in recent years, when my brother suggested 1976. We were not too sure about it, since all of us were in the mood for Chinese, yet 1976 meant a bit of a drive and the good memories too vouched for it.
As we reached the place, eager to relive the experience, we were told that the restaurant is shifted to the rooftop due to renovation work taking place at the garden area. Blame it on our high expectations set by the last time’s wonderful experience, the rooftop was a bit of a let down for us, in terms of ambience. In fact, there wasn’t any ambience to speak about. There was music in the background, but that was just about it. As we sat there wondering if we should have waited until the garden area was renovated and opened, we were given the menu. The menu was still the same and all the options looked tempting enough.
This restaurant in Cochin became the talk of town from the very first day it started operations. One could always see a crowd patiently waiting at the reception area, be it afternoon, evening or night. Most people commented that it is only because the place is owned by Dileep, a superstar in the Malayalam film industry. Then I met people who dined there and they were those who loved everything about the place and it had little to do with its association with the superstar. This eatery known as in Dhe Puttu, serves only puttu, a preparation made by steaming rice powder a cylindrical utensil (but different varieties, of course) – one of the favourite breakfast items of a Malayali.
This restaurant is very near to my house and ever since it opened, I really wanted to try it out. But sadly, none around me wanted to. “puttu? In the afternoon (or night)?”, “If you want to have puttu, then why do you need to go to a restaurant”, “It is always crowded”, were just a few excuses I got. I am yet to find the logic with most – if you can have dosas, biryani and meals (traditional south Indian meal of rice and vegetables) at a restaurant, then why not puttu?, if you can have dosa for dinner, then why not puttu?. But the others didn’t seem so convinced of the idea.
‘When in doubt, head to Abhirami’ has been our family mantra ever since the restaurant started its operation in Edapally. My mother-in-law, being a staunch vegetarian, is very particular about where she has food from if we are dining outside and this is the only place where she tags along without any complaints.
Located right on the main road in Edapally with ample parking space, this place is very easy to find. A very simple, unassuming place, there isn’t much of an ambience to talk about. Despite the mediocre seating arrangement and interiors, the restaurant does serve some hot, crunchy dosas that is sure to give you the comfort of home food. Our usual favourites have always been the variety of dosas in their menu and their curries. The food here may not be exceptional, considering that Kochi has a few amazing vegetarian restaurants, but its comfort food. Something to look forward to after a long, tiring day or for our family, after a long trip.
Explaining more about its functioning, the Treasurer of the project, who prefers to stay anonymous, said, “We serve food at a nominal cost of Rs. 25 per meal, but never compel anyone to pay that either. People who do not have the financial status to pay that are more than welcome to have the food without paying anything. They are also welcome to pay whatever they can. Even if it is less than Rs. 25, the money is accepted wholeheartedly.”
“On the other hand, there are people who give whatever they have, even Rs. 50 and tell us that this humble donation will at least provide free food for one hungry stomach. Some also give us Rs. 1,000 or Rs. 2,000 after they get to know about the real aim behind this initiative,” she added.
Whenever I visit Thiruvananthapuram, there is one place that I am eager to go to for dinner. This place serves the best chaats and Punjabi-style food that you cannot find anywhere else in the city. The Dhaba Project, true to its name, serves dhaba style food. It is a bit pricier than the food you get in dhabas of course, but I’m not complaining since it’s much cleaner than usual dhabas and worth every penny. I love everything about this place, right from the way its interior is done to the chilled lassi they serve.
The restaurant is done up in a kutcha style with brick walls and thatched roof. Once you enter, you have the option of choosing a cabin or the open area seating. I always go in for the open area seating because of the ambiance and the colourful pillows that adorn the benches. Oh, and you cannot miss the Daler Mehndi numbers and other Punjabi folk songs playing in the background. In fact, most of the time, I have to strongly resist the temptation to do a “balle balle” right there!
When it comes to the food, I always start with Chaat, followed by Tikka, Aloo Paratha and end with Lassi. Depending on the people I go with, we also order Biryani, Naans, Kulchas and Curry.