A signage - MadrAsian grabs my attention. It's one more in a long list of Pan Asian restaurants that have debuted in Chennai.
Pan Asian, ITC Grand Chola
This is among the country's finest Pan Asian restaurants. Pan Asian restaurants are not an easy game, especially when you have to find the balance between different culinary-rich regions. Pan Asian finds the balancing act in an elegant setting. At 8500 sq. ft., it's one of the largest restaurants within any Indian luxury hotel. The multi-layered layout ensures you find a new vantage point every time you visit. We'd recommend ring-side seats near the display kitchen where Chef Ashish Singh and his team always put on a good show especially when they carve out sashimi rolls with Japanese precision. The drama actually begins as you walk through the restaurant's 'Temptation Walk' that sets the mood. The Japanese cuisine is their highlight - their sushi rolls are terrific. Hardly a surprise, given that most of their fish flies in from Tokyo's Tsukiji Market.
Where: ITC Grand Chola, Mount Road.
Nasi and Mee
If there's one reason I keep going back to this high-energy dining space, it's for a refill of iced milo, Malaysia's unofficial national drink. It's been over a year and yet it's not always easy to score tables for dinner. Quirky wall art, a display kitchen are among the elements that lend it the same vibe as a South East Asian food street. Their soupy xiao long bao dumplings are my other 'go-to' dish. You can try the prawn har gow if you'd like to play safe though. The nasi goreng doesn't disappoint and neither does their slow-cooked ayam pongteh (soya beanchicken stew). Their fully loaded Singapore-style ice kachang is worth staying back for dessert.
If you've travelled extensively through South-East Asia, you will know that some of the best meals are served in the region's busy streets. It's why the culinary team at Soy Soi spent three weeks travelling through streets filled with culinary treasures in countries like Thailand and Vietnam. It's probably why their menu is exhaustive; it's a good thing their staff can help you navigate it. The interiors are atmospheric and feature multiple layers including a couple of private dining spaces. Their baos are one of the stars of this menu - we'd recommend the pulled pork and the spicy beef baos.
Where: Gandhi Mandapam Road, Kotturpuram
The Mamagoto at Khader Nawaz Khan Road (there's one more at Phoenix Market City, Velachery) follows the same design template that has worked for the chain across India. The Manga-inspired interiors are a big draw with its regulars who also keep coming back for their traditional Peking dumplings and their star aniseed-flavoured chicken. Their 'mocktails' are equally popular, especially the cucumber mint mix with a smidgen of black salt thrown in. But nothing quite hits the spot like their flavourful Chiang Mai station noodles.
Where: Khader Nawaz Khan Road and Phoenix Market City, Velachery
Word play is a thing with Chennai's Asian restaurants. This one's cleverly named (it plays on the Tamil equivalent of 'come and go'). Funky colours, wall art and even a 'tuk tuk', this informal Asian canteen also offers two cozy private dining spaces. The beef pho is worth checking out and so is another Vietnamese classic - the banana blossom salad. If soups and salads are not your cup of tea, give their baos a go - we'd recommend the BBQ chicken. Even if you don't fancy your veggies, you might be tempted to try their sizzling prawns tossed with broccoli and pak choi.
Where: Cathedral Road