The truest representation of the varied cuisines of all the South Indian states
Atmospherics: This modest-sized space is a game changer for South Indian restaurants. It has come to the NCR without a single false note or concession to the famously fastidious North Indian palate. There is a front door that looks as if it has been taken from a temple; Athangudi tiles from Chettinad on the floor and brass lamps on the ceiling. The chairs are intentionally mismatched, though the overall effect is informal rather than kitschy. The music is never intrusive but with no sound insulation and Savya Rasa always being full, the noise level is high. The menu here has no tired clichés and though the gems come from Tamil Nadu, they are mostly little-known outside the state.
Table talk: order anything and you will have a winner. Their thayir sadham (Rs 295) was the elemental taste of a home-cooked meal in Tamil Nadu: short-grained rice, a smooth soufflé of whipped curd and the tiniest slivers of vegetables. Ultra simple and easy to overdo unless you have been eating or cooking it since childhood. Rameshwaram pocket rice (Rs 645) is a nifty concept that is a farmers’ mainstay: rice cooked in coconut milk, a masala vada, fragrant vegetable korma and mango pickle, all wrapped into a neat parcel in a banana leaf. Simple, homely tastes and a time-honoured tradition in countries as far apart as Bhutan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Both these rice preparations are perfectly bona fide meals-in-one-dish for a lone diner: combine it with the chutneys that are served at each table and you can have a surprisingly good, inexpensive meal. The bun parotta (Rs 125) is an unique offering: soft, flaky, freshly prepared, it absorbs gravy better than any appam does. Chemeen manga curry (Rs 795) is fare from Central Kerala that is tart, spicy and creamy at once.
Plus and minus: The size of the single tables are too small to be of much use. And the menu is either a grubby clipboard with a too-small font or an i-Pad that shows, along with the menu, clips of food being cooked in the kitchen! On the plus side, history has been made by the North Indian partners displaying rare insight into the food, ingredients and decor of their second home in the South.
Must try: Thalassery biryani, podi idli fry, elaneer pudding
Food: 4.25; Service: 4; Décor: 4.
3rd floor, Aardee Mall, Sector 52, Aardee City, Gurgaon
Open from 12 noon to 3.30 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm
Alcohol: check with outlet; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,000