Nasi and Mee - Asian on my plate

The collapsible gate at the entrance seals the deal - Nasi and Mee Asian Canteen has a hawker centre-ish, canteen-ish vibe to it. It's bright with colours and laughter and a queue's outside waiting to be seated. Seating is a mix of chairs, banquettes and benches and wooden tables hold metal pails with cutlery and napkins, condiments arranged beside them. There's an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs plating their creations and beside it, the bar that serves mocktails and other interesting drinks. The menu is a melange of South East Asian favourites - from nasi goreng to hor fun to pad thai to rendang. The Bengaluru-based restaurant has now set up shop at Chennai!

Nasi and Mee (rice and noodles in Bahasa) invited us over for a tasting session. They have a rather large menu that spans favourites from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and China and lots for the vegetarians too.  About 16 dishes had been selected for us to try, each of us were given a copy of the menu with a phrase of welcome in Bahasa. Nice touch!

Condiments at the table

Iced Milo; ABC; cendol

We sampled 3 of their drinks - ABC (apple, beetroot carrot), iced Milo, a popular drink in those parts and the cendol with lots of green worms aka hoen kwe (mung bean flour) strips. The hands down winner was Iced Milo - made just the way it's made back home 😊

Winter melon soup

The chicken winter melon soup was delicious, the stock was extremely flavoursome. Pak choy and cubes of the gourd added to the health quotient while chunks of fresh shiitake mushroom infused the soup with oodles of earthiness.

Mushroom & water chestnut dumpling
The dim sums were very well made, generous amounts of mushroom and  crunchy water chestnut were stuffed into the translucent skin of the all-veg dumpling while the sesame oil in the prawn hargao gave it a lovely nutty flavour.  It takes years of practice and skill in making Xiao long bao - inside the beautifully pleated skin is a soupy filling with crabmeat. You pick it up very carefully with chopsticks, dip it into the ginger soy sauce and pop it whole into your mouth. The trick is to not break the skin and also to not burn your mouth! Yummy!!

Crab-filled xiao long bao

Son Tam

The fresh and zesty Son Tam doubled as palate cleanser, followed by sambal prawns. While the prawns were large in size, fresh and grilled to perfect doneness, the flavour of sambal was missing, possibly because the key ingredient in any sambal - belacan (shrimp paste), was missing. The chicken satay looked and smelt good but the flavours were far too mild.

Hot off the grill - satay and sambal prawns

Nasi lemak istimewa

Nasi Lemak Istimewa is a plate of fragrant rice with accompanying sides arranged all around - and a fried egg wrapped around the cone of rice. The sambal was more an onion paste and once again, the missing belacan left the dish bereft of its identity. The rendang was well done and those anchovies added a nice texture and crunch to the dish.  

Steamed sea bass Cantonese style

Char kway teow; Pad Thai

For me, the standout dish was the Cantonese-style steamed sea bass. The fish was fresh and the stock light and delicious. Peranakan style Ayam Pongteh - stewed chicken in soya sauce was a close contender. Both these mains are the perfect accompaniment to steamed rice. Char kway teow missed the mark - the noodles were pale, the pak choy was almost raw and the smokiness of the noodles that gives it its soul was missing. However, the Pad Thai with the generous topping of crushed peanuts and chilli flakes on the side was quite good. Laksa curry was perhaps the most disappointing dish. The green curry had some nice prawns which had been batter coated and fried but bore no resemblance to laksa; we were wondering if there had been a mix up of sorts in the kitchen.

Red Ruby; Ais Kachang; fried ice cream

Nasi and Mee has some interesting desserts - Red Ruby with mock pomegranate seeds that was deliciously crunchy but the coconut milk was not thick enough. Ais Kachang is just the thing to cool your mouth down after some spicy food; as for the fried ice cream, take my word that it is about the best in the city. The crust was still crisp when we cut into it after several photographs were taken.

You can't go wrong if you order a coffee at the end of the meal.
The food, on the whole is Asian-inspired, well made, portions are generous and pricing is reasonable. How much nicer if Nasi and Mee makes a version of Asian food for those who crave the authentic flavours.
A meal for 2 would cost 1100/++.
The timings are a huge plus point - noon to 11 pm. 

Nasi and Mee
18/24 Yafa Tower 1st Floor
Khader Nawaz Khan Road
044 48548222; +91 7550067035.


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