Nambi Vilas in Karapakkam, Chennai serves up Madurai magic on a banana leaf
Madurai-based nambi vilas recently opened in Chennai. And this simple but big-on-flavour restaurant along the Rajiv Gandhi IT Expressway, Karapakkam is just the place if you are looking to satiate meat cravings, Chettinad-style.
Our personal favourite after an afternoon of dish hopping through the highlights, is the spherical Mutton Kola ball, which is best described as can’t-stop-at-one. And at its heels in second place, the tangy red and rustic fish curry (that is also a meal order option). We quickly discover, as we run our eye through an-easy-to-navigate single-page menu, that the goal here is to deliver tried-and-tasted staples that are bound to be crowd-pleasers — irrespective of who is ordering. “Our USP is comfort food at a price point,” offers 27-year-old Sanchit Balasubramanian, who is handling operations in Chennai, while his father runs the original Nambi Vilas in Madurai, founded over a decade ago in 2008.
A whole new ball game
Interestingly, this 32-seater in Chennai would likely not be open if Sanchith hadn’t moved here for tennis lessons as a school-goer. Little did he know then, that he would leave the court behind to join his father in hospitality.
Expect staples like Chicken Biryani, Mutton Sukka, Pepper Chicken and Chicken Chettinad Gravy and of course, crowd favourites like the meals (chicken, mutton, fish). The kitchen, we’re told, is helmed by a chef who hails from Madurai (and spent a considerable amount of time establishing the Madurai flagship). He insists on grinding his own spices as we expect. And while he won’t share too many spice secrets with us, he does drop us the keys to the magic in their signature Chicken Biryani — that is, a homespun masala mix, which includes cinnamon sticks, cloves, elachi, star anise and japatri.
We’re told to look out for attractive combo deals (think egg dosa and chicken curry) starting next week, as well as hopefully bigger signage — as this first-floor space did have us pacing up and down for a bit, before we found it.
Open for lunch and dinner. Meal for two INR 400 to INR 500 approx.