From new restaurants that have cropped up to not-so-new ones that have upped the game, we have got five that you must try.
MKC - Madras Kitchen Company, The Westin Chennai Velachery
The test phase is over, the menu is ready, a new chef is in and this new space is now open. I call this a space, because this isn’t your typical restaurant. This is like a standalone coffee shop, where you can order a couple of coffees, plug your laptop in and work for hours, except that this is in a 5-star hotel.
And, unlike those coffee shops, you get a full menu, complete with dishes that can make fine restaurants go weak on the knees.
Excellent Butter Chicken Masala, shares space with very local dishes like Masala Bovonto and Amul Cheese toast. This is neither a coffee shop nor a restaurant, but an entirely different category altogether, and is Chennai’s most exciting new food outlet.
Not just new restaurants, some restaurants that have been around for a while are also getting exciting. Soy Soi is one such example. An Asian street food themed restaurant that continues to be packed on most days, Soy Soi does some fabulous food festivals. The recently concluded Dim Sum festival with more than 45 types of dim sums, some of which are available in a platter even after the festival has ended, was so well received that the event was extended twice! This is the place for satays, baos and anything Asian.
Converting old houses to restaurants is not new, and Chennai has a fair share of those, so in theory, there should be nothing exciting about FIKA.
However, the renovation is so good that it is a topic in itself and the kitchen helmed by the expat chef Willy is well thought out, comforting with familiarity and simply well done without gimmicks.
Simple dishes like Chicken Tenders and Pesto Pastas are so well made that it is easy to forget the reasonable prices that you are paying for these.
Gossip Bistro, East Coast Road (ECR), Chennai
This has been around for nearly three years, but it only seems to grow from strength to strength. A three-pronged team, with two owners, one an operations expert and the other a passionate foodie combined with the brilliance of a seasoned pro chef like Anand, almost every dish stands out.
Chilli Chicken Salad
Their Pink Beef Burgers, with a patty inside and an extra patty outside, a Coffee Mutton Gravy and the Chilli Chicken Salad, all come with slight twists to the classics, but without any drama. The festival menus are rather ridiculously low priced and are a killer both in terms of taste and value.
Kebapci, Nungambakkam, Chennai
This rather interesting tiny 10 seater space in the middle of a food hub like KNK road sprang a surprise with its fantastic kebabs. While the 1m meter long kebabs became an Instagram thing quickly, the food is hardly a pushover. Open until 2 am, with a range of Turkish inspired and Indian kebabs this is now my go-to place for kebabs.
Do not miss their simple Adana Kebab or Shish Kebabs. Juicy enough that the Pita Bread they serve with it is more than enough to savour it.
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Wasim, a doctor by profession, practices preventive and wellness medicine, and, therefore, food is a large part of his practice. He started off writing about food to tell the world that good food and good health are not mutually exclusive. With work having taken him to more than 25 countries, he has started looking at food habits and food history from around the world. His work has been featured in leading publications including Conde Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Week, The Hindu among others.