Fishin' at Jonah's Goes Fishin'

Chennai has a long coastline but surprisingly, there are only a handful of dedicated seafood restaurants in the city. Not that there is a dearth of seafood - if you take a walk along any of the beaches around 8 in the morning, you will see fishermen bringing in their catch to the shores. And those are the ones who set out from fishing colonies that line the coast. Trawlers bring in their catch much earlier.

A new restaurant has come up on the ECR, very close to home - Jonah's Goes Fishin' with Chef Willi. It looked interesting but before I convinced the family to dine there, a friend and I decided to test the waters, in a manner of speaking!

That's how we found ourselves there that very hot Saturday afternoon. It's on the first floor and thankfully, was cool inside. There's no nautical theme to suggest fishing or boats or seafood in the decor though the wooden seats had nice ultramarine coloured upholstery on them and the lampshades reminded me of very chic lobster pots. There are what looks like rods that line the walls, at certain angles, they form a pattern. It's a large room and the big window along one side lets it a lot of light. Very nice!

A display case with books and curios is placed near the entrance. At the other end, there is a counter with desserts on display. On weekdays, they have a buffet but on weekends, the menu is a la carte.

Books to read; in house desserts

Being the only customers in the restaurant at that point of time, we had the place to ourselves but soon enough, more people came in.

Laksa soup

The menu has been crafted by Chef Willi and knowing that he has worked in restaurants in Asia, we did look forward to the experience. We decided to order only dishes with seafood and started with a bowl of laksa soup. Having grown up on laksa, this one didn't look alright. Oh well, I know getting Asian ingredients in Chennai is a bit of a challenge so some things can be excused. I would have liked a little more lemongrass and galangal flavours in it. It had wheat noodles, fish cubes and prawns. Strangely, it was served with a thick slice of a baguette but the flavours were mostly all there.

Grilled prawn satay with peanut sauce

Grilled prawn satays were good, juicy just-right cooked prawns on skewers, crushed peanuts were sprinkled over the prawns and there was none of it in the dipping sauce. The prawns were garnished with sliced spring onions that kept rolling off.

Southern seafood cakes

According to the menu, Southern seafood cakes were a mix of fish and crab along with peppers and herbs. Four in a plate and served with thousand island dressing, the cakes were too soft and kept breaking up though the crust was nice.

Sambal baked fish

Sambal baked fish was served with a bowl of fragrant rice and a tasty dhal curry. A strange combination but it did work well. There was a large slice of seer fish generously coated with spicy sambal, a thick blend of onions, chillies, tamarind and palm sugar, cooked down and coated over the fish, the whole thing wrapped in a banana leaf and baked. The let down was that frozen fish had been used. No amount of delicious sambal could hide that fact.

Steamed crab wontons

Steamed crab wontons had 6 pieces to a plate. We had ordered it specially because the menu listed it as a crab filled wonton with water chestnuts but there was no crunch of chestnuts and some fish had been mixed into the crab meat and that mixture didn't taste nice. There was also a tad too much salt. Here too, the garnishing was sliced spring onions and we had a time removing them. The dipping sauce came with more spring onions.

Seafood spaghetti

We opted for the appetiser portion of seafood spaghetti and it was a visual delight - spaghetti twirled through a rich tomato sauce and artichoke hearts and topped with large juicy prawns, fish and a mussel. It tasted as it looked - delightful!

Hungarian apple pancakes

Dessert was Hungarian apple pancakes. A trio of apple pancakes served with a delicious toffee sauce. The pancakes were unsalted and bitter in parts - probably the result of baking powder not being mixed well. But we could overlook this minor hiccough because they and that sauce were made for each other.

Service was good, the staff know the menu and is obviously trained to make suggestions but the restaurant needs to work on certain aspects of hygiene. It would also be nice if the garnishing can be more creative. The pricing is moderate but some of the portions are small. Freshness of the catch is an essential in any seafood restaurant; Jonah's Goes Fishin' needs to work on that as well.

A meal for 2 would be around 2200/++. Weekday lunch buffets are priced at 499/-

Jonah's Goes Fishin' with Chef Willi is at 92, East Coast Road, Palavakkam.
Phones: 04443838315/ 044 42858533.

This restaurant no longer functions


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