Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dynasty, Nungambakkam, Chennai

This is an all time favourite, or used to be. Part of the Harrisons Hotel, has been in existence for a better part of my life. The old style hotel has now been torn down, and rebuilt into a multi-storey building hosting the same restaurants as before, Meenam and Dynasty. There was a time when the Harrisons Hotel opened smaller Dynasty outlets around Chennai. There were about 2 or 3 around chennai, not including another bakery called Harrisons (i think).

I have been here a few times. I specially loved the older version, because of the sprawling setup. But then, those kind of places are rare these days inside chennai. If i remember correctly, i was introduced to the 'manchurian', thanks to Dynasty. Good chinese food, meant Dynasty once upon a time. Unfortunately, while they have not gone bad, they seem to have lost their edge. The quality of the food is surely not in line with times.

The services was mixed. I must thank Mr. Jeffery (forget his last name), who seemed to care, but boys in the red suit were not as friendly or careful. Mr. Jeffery with his black coat and all, is the head waiter (if you can use that title here), and obviously was required to override decisions or rules. The lower boys were quick to say 'no' to anything, but the moment you bring it to Mr. Jeffery's attention, the issue is resolved amicably. We were a group of ten, and were at first squeezed into a table for 8, in an empty restaurant, in anticipation of a crowd coming later or because the extra table will come in the way!! The next thing that required Jeffery's attention was approval to change the channel on the TV.

We ordered starters, main course all too quickly, hungry as we were. Crispy lamb, dry chilli chicken, veg balls manchurian, and crispy chicken and fuyong. The crispy chicken leg is a chicken bone, all covered with chicken meat, dipped in a special batter and deep fried. It is unique here, most other places, offer a version of this called chicken lolipop. The fuyong was also good, as expected. However, after eating, i wish we had ordered the fuyong without chicken in it.

For main course, it was two kinds of fried rice, and soft noodles, both of which were just about good. But of the dishes we ordered, Lemon Chicken, made with sliced chicken, deserve a very good rating. The other dishes were just about ok, and not worth calling out or remembering. The fried rice or noodles in India, is different from what i have eaten in the US. There is very little oil used in the cooking of both these food, that it could qualify for a health food. I specially love egg fried rice here or in most chinese places, adding meat (chicken or other), seem to introduce a different flavour, making it less desirable.

We finished with some deserts, mostly ice cream, because the menu had nothing special to offer here. The date pancake was just ordinary, compared to ones we get at Mainland China, nearby. People dont seem to care about competition, they believe that crowds will come because of some old glory. One should only look at the Buhari's on Mount Rd for some lessons.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Vrindavan, New Woodlands, Chennai

This is not new, its been there for ages. This is one of the restaurants inside the New Woodlands Hotel, on Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai. This is their attempt to 'up the scale', i guess more on the monetary side, than on the service side. The restaurant is a multi-cusine vegetarian restaurant, and is also 'Jain food' friendly. I have been to this hotel a million times, but 99 times of a hundred it is to the faster 'south indian restaurant' now called Krishna Restaurant. The visit to the Vrindavan side is only when there are special 'guests' in the party, or if the other side is packed.

Food is not a problem here. It was never a problem with this or the other restaurant in New Woodlands. In fact, the name 'woodlands' has become quite generic, and i have not been disappointed visiting one of these copies or originals or branches (i dont think they are branches, but more like within the family or something like that !!, i dont know and so no judgement regarding that). It appears that if you name something woodlands, the food is decent to good.

The service on the other side is somewhere between indifferent to decent. It appears to be a common trait with all restaurants in India. It is difficult to get good quality service. This place wasnt so bad, but, i am sure there is scope to improve. We ordered Idly, Dosa (couple of different varities) and then later coffee. Well, if you go to a Woodlands, get the Idly and Dosa, not the noodles and roti/naan etc. Straying from this mantra is asking for unnecessary trouble. Not that it will suck, but hey, if you wanted roti/naan, go to a dabha. Yeah, except its difficult to find a vegetarian dabha.

I am sure they share kitchens at this hotel, because i couldnt find any spectacular difference in taste. They all tasted just as good. One thing that stands out, and caught my fancy, while sitting and eating, is the decor. There are some beautiful painting or pictures, primarily based on Krishna, but also mainly keeping with the theme of Vrindavan. I snapped the picture on the right, a long while ago using a camera phone. The reddish tinge, was because of the limited lighting inside.

One other comment about the Woodlands place, is the bathrooms. It is common to all the restaurants, and it is kept quite clean. There is a guy also standing there, watching like a hawk for split water etc., and cleaning it up fast and regularly. For that purpose alone, it is worth repeat visits. While this is great, the parking can be crazy when the marriage halls are full. So good to avoid the place when the marriage season is in full swing.