The Vembanad restaurant is located on the 4th floor of The Paul Bangalore hotel. The young and enthusiastic Executive Chef Sajesh Nair is in charge of all the food outlets in the hotel, including the Masala Dani, Murphy’s Brew House and Sidewalk Café and the Bar.
As soon as I entered the restaurant, I knew I was going to be indulging in traditional Kerala cuisine. This restaurant has won several awards and is a favourite with the locals and foreigners for its fine Kerala cuisine outside Kerala.The interior of the restaurant looks like any other Kerala restaurant I have visited. A nice wood finish, spacious and pretty interior, is well lit with plenty of light streaming in through the glass windows round the restaurant.
I started off with the Malabari Chemeen Soup made of fresh water prawns cooked in a mild, spiced soup with a coconut milk base. This soup was quite addictive as each spoonful seemed to taste better than the last.
I ordered the Vazha Kumboo cutlet made of plantain flowers and chopped onions mixed with other spices and then crumbed and fried. It was exceptionally good and tasty. Not many restaurants serve this dish as the process of removing the sepals and the florets of the plantain flowers is indeed tedious. The filaments in the florets must also be removed before chopping and mixing with other ingredients and subsequently shaped and fried. Hats off to Vembanad for putting this traditional dish in their menu!
Next, I savoured the usual must try dish, the Meen Polichathu, served in almost all the Kerala restaurants. The main ingredient of this dish is the Pearl Spot fish which is marinated in masala, wrapped in banana leaf and pan fried. I found the masala rather mild for this dish and in the beginning I did not quite like it because it did not have the usual heat, but in the end, I finished eating it as I enjoyed its unique taste.
Never leave a Kerala restaurant without eating appom! At Vembanad the appom making stand is just near the entrance, making the pan cake almost irresistible. The chef stands behind the stand and prepares the appoms and serves at the table once they are ready. Appoms are rice pancakes made of fermented batter of rice flour and mixed with either coconut water, toddy or yeast. They are cooked in small iron woks till the edges are crispy with soft, spongy centres.
As for desserts, I tasted three different types and the must try was the unique Unnakai. It is a spindle shaped dessert made of mashed ripe plantains, stuffed with chopped cashew nuts, raisins and grated coconut. It is definitely a labour of love.
Overall, Vembanad serves superb food made with fresh ingredients. The staff was helpful, polite and friendly. When in Bangalore, take time off to visit the Vembanad. It is definitely worth a visit.