Raju Gari Dhaba
Rushikonda, Vizag-Bhimli Road, Visakhapatnam,
Meal for two:?Rs 400
When the Vizag Municipality wanted to close down the Raju Gari Dhaba for some supposed infraction some years ago, the citizens of Vizag congregated outside the Municipal office to protest, and the decision was quietly reversed. Now that’s what you call ‘by public demand’.
The dhaba is right on the beach, 15 km outside town, hidden off the Bhimli road. It’s almost too good to be true: a rustic palm-thatched shack, run by a mom-and-pop team, Mr and Mrs K.V. Raju (she cooks, he manages) and it specialises in home-cooked Andhra dishes, which she learned from her grandmother. The official name is Sea Inn, but everybody simply calls it Raju Gari Dhaba, after the proprietor. It’s set under the palm trees, within range of the ocean spray, and the menu is as minimalistic as the surroundings: just about a dozen dishes for the day, scribbled on a whiteboard. It says that the house specialities are country chicken and mutton keema, but ignore that. The thing to order is their fresh prawns, crab or fish (salt-water or sweet-water), all cooked with a typical Andhra zing. We pondered over the choice of fish—vanjiram or chandua, both fresh from the nearby fish market— and finally settled on a vanjiram curry, fried chandua, and a huge crab in a thick, fiery gravy, with steaming rice. And as we licked our fingers, we understood why the good people of Vizag protested its closure. We’d have protested, too.