ECR’s newest pub is all about going zen with Asian food and potent cocktails
East Coast Road just got busier with Monk’s Plate — the newest pub on the Injambakkam block, a few steps away from VGP Golden Beach Resorts. The resto-pub serves Continental and pan-Asian cuisine which is reinforced with delicious cocktails from the extensive bar menu.
“The lack of good pan-Asian restaurants on this ECR stretch made us want to give diners a good experience with the expertise of Chef Arun Prakash, who previously worked with The Park,” NS Abhilash tells us about what made him and partners Ajay Menon, TA Senthil Kumar, NS Arjun open the restaurant. Abhilash previously owned a smaller Voodoo Bar near West Park in Vetuvakani but decided to shift after the license expired. The new 60-seater space on the first floor is one of three dining areas in the 3,000 sq ft Monk’s Plate. The underground area is used for private parties and the second level will have a rooftop bar, which will be open in the next few months.
Greeted with several laughing Buddhas perched on the walls, we are left intrigued as we make our way inside the pub, which is coloured black and red, and illuminated by incandescent bulbs. The menu has unique bar bites like Wasabi Potato Chips to a classic Pulled Pork Bruschetta and even Asian specialities like dim sum and baos. The overcast skies make us want to start with something soupy and our first dish of traditional Malaysian soup Laksa does just that. A steaming coconut noodle soup, it is loaded with a mix of fresh vegetables which makes it ideal for the evening.
Boasting a large bar menu, the signature cocktail Zen Garden turns out to be simple yet potent, made with gin and cucumber, for a refreshing combination. The peppery meat satay, which appears next on skewers is cooked to perfection and is a complete delight, as it is served with two different kinds of sauces — sweet and spicy.
While Monk’s Plate has a large non-vegetarian menu made of chicken, pork and seafood among other meats, it has a smaller but carefully curated vegetarian menu and the mushrooms stuffed with cheese are proof. The small mushroom caps are mildly spiced and stuffed with mozzarella cheese which makes them melt in the mouth, as soon as we take a bite.
Pork on the fork
Even though Asian fare is dominated by rice and noodles, it is incomplete without traditional baos and the pub serves a variety of them. While there are mushroom, pork, fish and prawn options, we opt for the Chicken Katsu bao. The mildly sweet and spicy shredded chicken is stuffed in two large steaming pillowy white buns, making for a delightful bite.
With so much already on our plate, we decide to be experimental and try the Calming Monk, which is a heady mix of vodka, gin and paan extract that makes it refreshingly different, yet delightful. The pork lover in us immediately jumps at the opportunity of savouring Pork Ribs at Monk’s Plate and we did just that.“The large meaty rib is served well done, unlike the regular medium rare, to cater to the Indian palate, as most of them prefer it cooked entirely, unlike the expats,” 40-year-old Abhilash tells us. The meat which falls off the rib with ease is lent a deliciously sweet flavour from being cooked in the house BBQ sauce.
While the ribs are ideal for ravenously hungry diners, others can opt for the sweet Stir fry Lamb with oyster sauce which can be paired with the Butter Garlic fried rice, for the main course. Overlooking a mousse and coconut-based dessert, we decide to end our meal with warm White Sticky Rice topped with Mango ice cream, which makes us crave some more. If only we weren’t stuffed so much!
Meal for two is Rs 1,500 plus taxes.