I have already written a few times about Burmese food in Chennai and I should admit, I am very fond of it. I have heard from so many sources that the best Burmese food is available in Royapuram, Vyasarpadi, Tondaiarpet, Ennore, and a few other places in North Madras. While I am yet to try from any of these areas, my go to place for Burmese food has been Second Lane Beach Road, in Parrys and I have loved it, every single time.
Right across the road from Burma Bazaar into the second lane beach road, roughly opposite to the Chennai Beach Railway Station, there are many stalls that serve Burmese food. One of the prominent places is the stall right opposite to Kotak Mahindra Bank, at the corner of Jehangir Street. There is no way you’ll miss it because there will be so many people standing with a plate of Atho in their hand, relishing it. Families with kids and ladies opt to stand on the other side of the road, as its a little more convenient than standing in the crowd.
Took me a while to get to the cart and there were so many people waiting already, I slowly made my way clicking pictues of the shop and the food.
My friend ordered one Mohinga and a half a plate of Atho to start with. Mohinga is basically a noodle soup, the noodles here are different in color as compared to what goes into the making of Atho. White noodles, a boiled egg, crushed Bejo pieces, and all other add-ons are added in a bowl and handed over to us, we can fill it with plantain soup ourselves. While my friend was ready to deep dive into the Mohinga, I got half a plate of Atho. Atho, is orange-colored noodles tossed in garlic oil (perhaps a few other oils) with shredded cabbage, fried onions, chilli powder, tamarind juice and crushed Bejo pieces. One has to see it to believe the speed at which he dishes out atho, while perfecting the proportions, the quantity, and the taste. These shops have been set up in 1970s and have been passed down generations after generations. So it it no surprise that they do it with so much ease.
The first mouthful of Atho was bliss, absolutely yummy! After a few spoons, it did feel a bit spicy, a bit too much chilli powder perhaps. A couple of gulps of cold water in between balanced it well. I relished it to the last spoon. Mohinga was also very tasty, but since the soup had a mild, yet an obvious flavor of seafood (Prawns or Fish, I am not sure), I wasn’t too comfortable. There are certain places which serve vegetarian soup (read as Plantain soup without the seafood add-on) and I love that. So I did not experiment too much with it.
We decided to try half a plate of Fried Atho, next. This is a variant of Egg Noodles, with a Burmese touch to it. I used to like it a lot earlier, but now I would prefer Atho anyday to it. It was tasty, but the cabbage was a bit too dominating. If you have a chance to eat this right after it is made, its worth a try. Normally it is made in bulk and portions are served from that. So it loses a bit of its flavor I think.
These dishes are called ‘Half-Plate’, but they’re actually a full bowl and good to fill the tummy of an normal eater. I would recommend to order a ‘Half’ first, and then order more if needed.
What’s a visit to an Atho place without the Masala Egg! 🙂
A boiled Egg, slit partially, stuffed with fried onions, and a bit of garlic oil, chilli infused oil, and tamarind juice poured into the slit and it is supposed to go into your mouth in one shot! 😀 We had two each, and it disappeared in no time. It was a burst of flavors, an absolute delight. Finally, we were done with our dinner!
These dishes are very nominally priced, 70 bucks for Mohinga, 50 bucks each for Atho and Fried Atho and 15 bucks for a Masala Egg. Paid 230 rupees in all, absolutely worth it!
A heads-up to hygiene watchers, please excuse!! This place is not for you! It is not one of the cleanest places around, and just like most of the foodcarts (thalluvandi in Tamil), hygiene is questionable. I’m okay with it, and one thing I make sure is to get a bottle of water and never drink water from any of these places.
Would I be back again for tasting these very same dishes?!? Without a doubt ! 🙂 While there are places in South Chennai that serve decent Burmese food, the experience of visiting this place is something totally different! Hopefully the plan of visiting even better Burmese food shops in North Madras happens soon!