It’s been an interesting past few days for me in Vizag. While the sun plays hide and seek and amid the pitter patter of rain drops, the entertainment and gourmet scene in the city is expanding. From the opening of a drive-in theatre, to a fancy tea place and to a specialty Pan Asian restaurant, the social landscape of the city is slowly transforming.
The social fabric of Vizag is cosmopolitan. Most of us are willing to try new things. However, Vizag is a tough market to break into and sustaining any business here is a challenge. Hopefully, these new places are just the tip of the iceberg for more interesting things to open in my city of destiny.
Park, Tune-in and oops no Action
A drive-in theatre is where you watch a movie projected on a big screen from the comfort of your parked car using a pre-established FM frequency. These theatres are common abroad (usually in semi urban areas as it needs more space) and have been around for the past 80 years. Though an old concept, there are only a handful of cities that have drive-in cinemas in India.
I went to a ‘Village Cinemas’ drive-in when I was living in Melbourne. Though I don’t remember anymore which movie we watched, I vividly remember the atmosphere, the bonhomie and the camaraderie surrounding my viewing experience. Families, group of friends and couples- some sitting in their cars, some sprawled out on picnic mats/chairs with their picnic hampers, children running around- it was to me a very different experience of watching a movie under a very clear star lit sky.
Unfortunately for us, the show in Vizag got cancelled due to some technical glitches 😦 It is a 100 car capacity area and it filled up quickly as it was a Sunday. While I craved to re-live my previous experience, I realized that it wasn’t easy to see the screen from sitting in the car. Luckily, they gave us chairs and wireless headsets were available on rent for a nominal charge. Tickets are priced nominally at Rs. 75/- and the staff seemed genuinely apologetic about the cancelled show as they handed out refunds to all of us disappointed people.
A Spot of Tea
From the movies to (as the British say) ‘a spot of tea’. Well, it wasn’t just a ‘spot’ though; we had a few cupfuls 🙂 This fancy new place by the beach called Tea Trails boasts of about 80 varieties of teas all brewed freshly on our table with tea leaves (not powder, as they point out). Decorated with small tea pots and other curios, this new chai place faces the beach and is becoming a favorite hangout place for groups of friends and families alike.
They have different varieties of teas from the exotic Russian and Japanese ones to my personal favorite the Kashmiri Kahwa right down to the ever popular masala chais. (Psst…They have unlimited refills). Since, I have been here a couple of times I also tried their Bubble drinks…bubbles popping into our mouth with each sip.
The Eggs Kejriwal (fried eggs served on pavs) and Bun Maska are popular dishes here. The tea infused pizzas and chicken salads are also must-haves. They have a distinct and interesting taste and are served garnished with tea leaves. It has a fairly extensive menu for a tea place and many tea pairing options.
The owner Priya is extremely courteous and goes out of her way to make us feel welcome. As an avid tea drinker, I thoroughly enjoyed my hot cuppa at this newest (tea) cafe overlooking the surf break on our beach while thunder lighted up the night sky.
You make mi-so Happy
I was invited for a food tasting dinner at Mekong, a new specialty pan-Asian restaurant. This is named after the mighty Mekong River which originates in Tibet and traverses through China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before joining the South China Sea. This fine dining restaurant apart from featuring culinary delights from all the above regions also serves Japanese cuisine.
Right from the crispy prawn crackers and fresh snow peas to the generous re-fills of flavourful jasmine tea to our main course and the variety of desserts; we relished every bite of it.
We were given the inside out rolled sushi with prawn tempura- Ebi ura maki. Not used to getting decent sushi at many places in India, leave alone Vizag, we were pleasantly surprised with the finesse and care these were made with. The soya sauce it came with was thinner and lighter and had the right amount of saltiness that went perfectly with the sushi.
We shared the Burmese Khow suey soup. It is one of my favorite dishes and I was thrilled to see it on their menu. The soup was perfect with the right amount of turmeric and coconut cream- just enough to make the soup creamy, but not very coconuty in taste (as I am not too fond of the coconut taste).
Starters were steamed fish in a light lemon sauce, and chicken tossed with peanuts. Both were very delicious.
For the main course, we were served Thai Green curry with jasmine rice; chicken soft noodles; and sliced chicken with mushrooms in an oyster sauce.
Desserts were a selection- Thapthim Krop, a famous Thai dessert made with water chestnuts in coconut milk; home-made coconut ice cream with jaggery; and small pancakes stuffed with dates served with ice cream. Suffice to say, it took us a few minutes to start moving again. Haha…
The interiors of their flagship restaurant in Hyderabad are done up in line with the cuisine they serve. My only grouse with the one in Vizag- it doesn’t reflect the charm of the original, but the food and the service is top-notch!
Where to find these:
Drive in theatre at Sheila Nagar
Tea Trails near Pandurangapuram
Mekong at Green Park Hotel.
Disclaimer: I did not do all this in 1 day. My next blog should probably be about exercises and gyms. 🙂 (‘Sweat the Alphabets, Dance the Digits’)
Tamanna S. Mehdi