No. 1 Halls Road, Egmore
Chennai: 600 008
Tel: 044 28191900
Meal for two:?Rs 500
Though the sign at the entrance says ‘Mathsya’, or ‘Fish’, it’s Chennai’s favourite vegetarian dining experience. (So take it easy.) The decor is like a film-set from the Sixties; frosted glass partitions, dim lights, waiters in bow ties, even if they are mostly from the Northeast.
It’s where Chennai’s chefs meet over tumblers of the best coffee to tuck into their favourite South staples, the adais, the dosas, the oothapams that are served with the right accompaniments. It’s where you watch foreigners try and eat the sliver of banana leaf tucked into the dosa, while their hosts explain that it’s just meant to hold the dollop of ghee. Or the kitty parties that take place over buffet lunches.
Only veterans will point you in the direction of the rasa vadai, hot lentil dumplings in a soupy broth, easily the best in the city. The dosas are a delight. The Suratkal dosa is stacked like a pancake, with onions and green chutney in between. Others you can wear like a hat, or carry rolled under your arm like a banker from Udupi, which is where the original owners come from. Mathsya is a child of the Udupi Lunch Home, with Woodlands and Dasaprakash, a landmark Udupi style enterprise.
For the rest, Mathsya has gone modern, ‘Parisian Rice’ on Tuesdays, ‘Irish Ginger soup’ on Fridays, Spicy Italian Spaghetti on Saturdays and a Golconda Biriyani on Sundays.
Even Vishnu in his mathsya avatar must be puzzled at what’s being dished out in his name.