I’ve been waiting to try this restaurant since the time it opened. TheMad Chef of Maplai had also invited me for food tasting. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it as I was out of station for a while. The mixed reviews on the Facebook group only increased my curiosity about this place. I was waiting for an opportunity when an informal meet-up with a friend at Nungambakkam came up this morning. Back of my mind, I already decided that my lunch was going to be at Maplai. Since my friend had other plans for lunch, I was left alone. Normally I do not prefer to dine alone, but today I had no choice. Proceeded to Maplai and it was quite easy to locate, bang on the main road on Sterling Avenue, in Nungambakkam.
Stepped into the restaurant and was welcomed by a pleasant gentleman. He took my name and there were already a few people waiting for table. I sat on the sofa waiting for my name to be called. Since I was alone, I was asked to share a table with two other guys, pretty much understandable. The place looked very neat with nice interiors and we were seated in a small room which had about four tables.
I am not a big fan of South-Indian meals especially poriyal, kootu, sambhar and rasam stuff. Of course, once in a while I love to have it, but today I didn’t feel like. After a brief look at the menu, decided to go for their parottas (coloquial name for South-Indian version of a parantha/paratha). I love parottas and I can eat them all three times a day 🙂 Browsed through the menu and ordered Chicken Omelette and Panagam for a starter and drink. Since I already made up my mind, ordered the main course too. I ordered a Parotta, a Porichcha Parotta and a Coin Parotta. The chilli beside ‘Guntur Chilli Kodi’ on the menu was catchy, and I ordered the Andhra-style spicy gravy to go with the Parottas. The waiter was a pleasant person and was quite quick to bring a bottle of water and take the order. I was quite surprised that he did not have anything to take the order on. No notepad, no iPod, nothing.
In less than five to ten minutes, the parottas came one after another. The Chicken gravy arrived too but the starter and the drink was not served yet. I didn’t mind the order much, I started to eat. The Panagam and Chicken Omelette followed. The chicken omelette tasted good, but the chicken in it hardly made an impression. It could pass off easily as masala omelette. Panagam was definitely not the way I expected. I’ve been served Paanagam every year on Rama Navami since I was a kid at my parents’ and grandparents’ place and the expectation I had in mind was something far away compared to what I was served. The flavor, the zing, was missing. Not sure how to put it, but it wasn’t very impressive. Coming to the main course, I should say that I have eaten a lot of parottas to differentiate between a wow and a ok-ok parotta. First look, the texture was brittle and not very appealing. I am presuming it must have been a re-heated parotta and not a freshly made one. I am not saying it was old, It could be made just a while ago, but looked like it was reheated before being served. That was a dampener. Normally, its my habit to make small pieces of the parotta as soon as it is served on my plate and eat a piece from it. I felt there was less or no salt in the ‘plain’ parotta. I tasted the gravy, it was good with a nice flavour, but was not even close to being spicy as the menu indicated and would have been better with a little more salt in it. The flavors were quite familiar too and I was left wondering why a spicy Andhra chicken gravy would taste like this. Unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I asked the waiter what it was and then he said it was ‘Kozhi Chettinad’ :O ! Then I realized, it was not what I ordered and now it made sense why it wasn’t spicy. Anyway, since it tasted good, I was kind of okay with that. The waiter and the manager apologized and offered to change it. By then, I was almost done with it, so I politely refused. The coin parotta was also okayish, nothing worth raving about though. One of the three small coin parottas could have been there longer on the tawa, and I felt it was removed a bit too quickly. What was worth appreciating was the porichcha parotta. I loved this one, the taste, the texture, and it was really good. Again, a spicier gravy with the parottas would have made a world of a difference. Since I was alone, ordering without wasting was not easy, I had to leave a bit of parotta and gravy as I was almost full now. Ordered Jil Jil Jigarathanda for a dessert. I have not tasted the original one in Madurai and my best experience is having Jigarathanda in a couple of places in Chennai, including Murugan Idly Kadai. I liked this one. I expected a glass as big as a Falooda 😀 but what came was a small one. It tasted good and I liked it, not worrying about its authenticity.
Asked for the bill and the lunch set me back by seven hundred rupees and it included a service charge of 5%. Overall, plenty of scope for improvement. As it is a new restaurant, such hiccups are bound to be. I would wait for a while and visit again after things stabilize and settle down. I would term this as a slightly above-average experience.