MasterChef Australia winner Sashi Cheliah's restaurant Pandan Club now open in Chennai

Located on Bazullah Road, T Nagar, the swanky dining space serves Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine from Singapore and Malaysia

Sonali Shenoy Published :  07th October 2022 05:31 PM   |   Published :   |  07th October 2022 05:31 PM
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Interiors at Pandan Club

Celebrity chef Sashi Cheliah’s much-anticipated Pandan Club recently opened its doors in Chennai. Located on Bazullah Road, T Nagar, the swanky dining space should be on your must-visit list for two reasons. One — it serves Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine from Singapore and Malaysia, which is an unlikely find even on the most elaborate pan-Asian menu. And two — this is the first time a MasterChef Australia winner has ever opened a restaurant in the city. We settle in for a special degustation tasting of the launch menu, hosted by business partners Sashi and Big Bandha’s Manoj Padmanabhan. Expect curious names like Kueh Pie Tree (Nyonya Pastry Cup) and Kambing Buah Keluak (Blacknut Lamb Curry) alongside an array of craft drinks that include a popular Coconut and Pandan Margarita.

 

Watermelon & potato salad

 

Signature craft cocktails


 

Bak to basics
What sets Peranakan flavours apart from other Asian cuisines, we discover as our appetisers arrive, are the unique ingredients. Candlenuts work as a thickening agent in curries, taucu (fermented yellow soy bean) brings a complex pairing of aromatic and savoury, while fermented blacknut (buah keluak) touted to be the Asian equivalent of black truffles is a mainstay of the cuisine with bold flavours and a distinctive sour-meets-bitterish slant. “We get all of this imported from Singapore and Malaysia,” says Sashi, who grew up in Singapore, as we bite into a traditional Peranakan Spring Roll (Lor Bak) where the crunchy outer shell, we are told, is freshly made bean curd skin. We chase this down with a chug of a ‘Clear Mary’ with tomato consommé and a hit of pepper. Chips are swapped out for Spicy Fried Anchovy (Ikan Bilis Pedas) mixed with peanuts and chilli jam, which make for a swell bar snack to munch on the side.
 

Chef Sashi Cheliah

 

Blacknut jackfruit curry

 

Wok this way
From the Grill & Wok section, the Peranakan Chilli Prawn (Sambal Udang) is a spicy surprise. Squeeze some kumquat juice over it for some tangy notes if you would like. While mains comprise Sashi’s special Roti Jala which is a delicate netted crêpe made of coconut milk, turmeric and egg which we dip into Peranakan Red Chicken with chilli paste and lemongrass. “We have no flat plates because the food is eaten by hand and usually scooped up,” Sashi points to their custom ceramic crockery. We however, are a tad distracted by the Blacknut Jackfruit Curry (Nangka Buah Keluak) which has us hooked with its depth of flavour and so finds us circling back to it a few times, with good reason. Also, highly recommended is Village Style Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng Kampong) which is quite different from what you might be used to, and comes tossed with fried anchovies and a choice of either chicken or egg. We ensure to keep room for the Singapore Ice Cream Sandwich that arrives as the finalé of the evening. Think tricolour milk bread (toasted) with a filling of condensed milk ice cream and a smidge of dense soy caramel. We’ll definitely toast to that!

Dine a la carte or request the Feed Me menu which curates a four-course meal at INR 2,000 a person.

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