This beach shack on ECR uses complex French techniques to serve desi flavours
This shack by the beach took a week to construct. But its mobile kitchen cost over three lakh. Oh, and the 24-year-old chef who runs it uses complex French cooking techniques.
Enter KoKoMMo — a haven by the waves overlooking the Bay of Bengal at the InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort. If you’re wondering why the name sounds eerily familiar, it might be because it’s inspired by a Beach Boys song you heard ever so long ago. “We went over names for this place back and forth for about three months, then I thought of the song — and that was it,” recalls Vijai Singh, GM of the resort, with a smile. Over Coronas and must-try coconut rum Malibu (everyone in our party ordered it twice) — we settle into a breezy pace of sipping, dipping (podi baguettes and garlic chutney) and listening to the reassuring sounds of waves hit the shoreline.
Our appetisers arrive fast, with no waiting lags — as we switch gears from work mode to chill. Be forewarned, dishes do get cold a whole lot faster thanks to the cold night air. Podi-tossed root veggies of varying pastel colours begin a guessing game. Pink is beetroot, orange is carrot and yellow is sweet potato. Healthy as they sound — they’re rather addictive. There’s a deliciously succulent Yoghurt Grilled Broccoli with a strong hit of white ground mustard (all the way from Kolkata) courtesy Kitchen Executive, Indrashis Saha, who as you might gather from the name, hails from there. And for seafood lovers, Scallop Polichadu which subtley flavoured, given it’s seared through a banana leaf. By this point, we’re starting to spot a pattern, which as head chef Indrashis summarises to us is, “Indian palate sensibilities created with western techniques.”
Like the ‘deboned chicken stuffed with minced chicken’ on their menu (Baluchi chicken) — which understandably is available only on pre-order a day before or the paneer pinwheel sandwiches (Paneer chakri) with garlic chutney and mashed snow peas.
Book a cabana set-up with a personalised four course menu crafted by the chef and welcome drink on arrival. The package starts from Rs 15,000 plus taxes onwards.
What elevates the appeal of the spread before us however is the unexpected aesthetic they arrive in. The aforementioned podi baguette sits in a gorgeous white conch. The broccoli makes an entrance in a marble sculpted sea shell from Udaipur’s quarries. While meatier main course curries like Nalli Nihari beckon to us from a giant granite mortar and pestle, made by sculptors in Mahabalipuram.
“The idea is to keep everything very rustic and true to the beachy theme,” Vijai tells us as we curiously sample a forkfull of Quail, made with traditional ‘hunter spices’. Almost as good as the Pork Ribs with a Thai spice and honey rub — but not quite in the same league. The meat is tender and soft but what is getting a lot harder at this point is visibility, with dusk falling upon us.
The waiters seem prepared for this however, with a ready game plan. Two of them serve while the others form a circle, and whip out their cell phones for torch beams. We imagine, this might not be necessary come April 5, when the massive IPL screen will be set up by the bay.
As we take it all in, stars above and conches for crockery — we have to wonder: what made a five-star property set up a shack in the first place. “Well there’s no point in competing with another restaurant, fine dining restaurants are a dime a dozen,” Vijai says candidly. Also he adds pointedly, “Who doesn’t love the beach?”
Open from 5 pm to 11.30 pm. Meal for two Rs 2,500 (exclusive of alcohol.)
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