Merry Christmas


It's been a subdued season. As many of you know, Chennai experienced very heavy rains in November and earlier this month. When excess water was released from a reservoir and when lakes breached their banks, the resultant flood waters inundated homes, offices and businesses. Many friends lost so much, rising waters did not discriminate between the poor and the rich and every one of us was affected some way or the other. But it was ordinary people who went out of their way to do extraordinary things to save and help those in distress.

It will be some time before things settle and those who were affected the most can go back to a semblance of what life was like before  the floods.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with hope and peace.

Entrée at E-Hotel


Reviewing a vegetarian meal is a tough challenge for me. As tough as cooking a vegetarian meal for I can't think beyond a dish with paneer or mushrooms or an "English" vegetable curry. Which was the main reason I decided to attend this blogger's meet and see what a true blue vegetarian restaurant would serve at a buffet.

Many of us tend to miss E-Hotel in the hurry to reach one of the stores at Express Avenue Mall. The hotel is tucked away in a corner and has its own entrance. Perhaps it is the location that cocoons it from the rest of the mall. Colours catch my eye as I walk in. The lobby has an arrangement of glass vases awash with flowers and baubles in shades of fuchsia and pink.

Large vats with flora, not walls, separate the lobby from the dining area and behind them is Entrée, the all day diner that has white counters and burnt orange and green chairs set around white tables. The bright colours perk up an otherwise dark space.

We were served a welcome drink and spent the next few minutes guessing the ingredients that had gone in. Definitely ice cream, strawberry syrup and pineapple juice. Nice but sweet!

Spicy corn veg soup; paneer tikka

The spicy corn veg soup was gluggy with cornflour and tasted flat. The appetisers, both paneer based, had been treated much better - golden smoky flavoured cubes of paneer tikka cooked perfectly in a tandoor and croquettes made with a mix of cheeses and fried to a crisp golden brown.

A range of salads

Six salads were on offer and included aloo chat, corn and cheese salad and an interesting thenga manga - coconut and mango salad.

We were told that Entrée serves global cuisine. There was a dish of roast country veg, a nice pasta in Alfredo sauce and vegetable hakka noodles with sapo dumplings. The noodles were quite good but the dumplings were rather doughy. More's the pity as I did wish there was a cheesy bake to justify that section.

Golden onion fried rice; vegetable biryani

There were 2 kinds of rice - a delicious and  flavourful golden onion fried rice and a vegetable biryani.

Baingan Shimla mirch; satrangi subzi

Gravy based dishes included baingan Shimla mirch - eggplant and capsicum,  satrangi subzi, a mixed veg curry and papad ki subzi - a curry made with papad and yoghurt that was quite sour. There was also dal bukhara, thick with lentils. Indian breads were served at the table. They were a trifle greasy and tough. Paneer butter masala and the baby corn tempura were the other favourites.

Dal bukhara

Entrée even has a section for die hard fans of South Indian food. There's steamed rice, drumstick sambar, beans poriyal and a spicy rasam.

Mocha pannacotta; kiwi jar; strawberry mousse; lava cake; mango pastry

The restaurant's speciality is definitely dessert. Seven were on offer and the standout was the mocha pannacotta with a lovely hint of coffee. The mango pastry and strawberry mousse were also very popular with the crowd. We loved the little decorative touches on the serving plates.

Entrée is an all day diner; one can opt for either the lunch or dinner buffet at 750/ per head or choose a la carte. The restaurant has won the Zomato user choice award which is no mean feat.

Do call +91 44 2846 3333 for reservations.

Dining at Fuji


The flavour of the season seems to be Japanese and there's a new place in town to have it - Fuji, situated on the ever busy Chamiers Road. Once inside the restaurant, the noise of traffic is shut out and a sense of calm envelops the visitor.

The serene Japanese style dining area

The vestibule-like entrance has wooden slats decorated with artificial flora that demarcate the private dining rooms on one side. On the other side is a large room with low tables and cushions to sit on with a space below for your feet to rest. Earthy tones on the walls and floor and the dark brown of tables, cushions and pillars are in contrast to the white napkins placed at each seat. You have to take off your footwear if you want to dine in this room. We opted to sit in one of the PDRs, not because of the no footwear requirement but because for those not accustomed to sitting on the floor, it would be quite a contortionist's act to manoeuvre oneself into position!

This is Fuji's second restaurant in India and we met the team that promotes it where we learnt that one of the partners is the owner of 40 restaurants in Japan!

Spinach; dashimaki tamago; sunagimo

Fortunately for us, our tasting menu had been preselected to showcase Fuji's specialities. We started with an appetiser trio of fried chicken gizzard - sunagimo, dashimaki tamago and spinach. The tamago was excellent - juicy, slightly sweet and well made. The spinach had merely been blanched with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on it.

Seafood sashimi platter

A platter of sashimi was served next - slices of salmon, red snapper and squid. The wasabi added the necessary kick, along with the palate cleansing pickled ginger.

Steamed fish with bamboo shoots and spring onions looked pretty as a picture. The fish had been rolled into shape but I wasn't too keen on it as it tasted ...well... fishy but the sauce was delicious.The bamboo shoots provided a lovely textural contrast.

Nothing like munching on a bowl of edamame to pass the time

The stand out dish for me was chicken karashi yaki - grilled chicken with miso and mustard. Tender, juicy slices of  chargrilled chicken with the hint of miso and a dab of mildly pungent yellow mustard. Simply sublime!


My basket of tempura had prawns, squid, capsicum, eggplant and pumpkin. The coating was crisp but if you do order it, remember to eat it fast as it loses its crispness the longer it sits around.

Nigiri sushi platter

We had Fuji's nigiri sushi that included a roll with salmon, and rice topped with salmon, squid and prawn. There was also an interesting little roll stuffed with a preserved plum paste. The sushi was ok but the toppings kept falling off the rolls while being dipped into the sauce.

Fuji has plenty of options for vegetarians. Every dish we were served had a vegetarian version as well.

Nasu dengaku - fried eggplant with miso and sesame seed paste

Dessert was a bowl of ice cream with cubes of apple, kiwi and mochi. The menu had no listing for desserts so I have no idea if anything else is on offer.

Sauce bowl and soya sauce jar

The food is light on the stomach as a good Japanese meal should be. Our bowls of green tea were replenished periodically. Incidentally, we opted for the hot version.
Fuji is a good place to dine at if you're unfamiliar with Japanese food as the flavours are mild enough. The service crew was kind enough to explain the dishes as they were being served. Portions are just right. I loved the tableware which is imported from Japan and the lacquer bowls which were used for serving green tea and soup.

A meal for 2 would cost approximately 2500/++.
Fuji is at 134, Chamiers Road, Nandanam, Chennai 600 035.
Call 044 42112511 for reservations.

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