Fort Kochi has memories of some very special firsts for me. It was one of the places Mom, Dad and I went on a holiday. It was also where I met my husband. So, it isn’t a surprise that I am drawn to this culturally vibrant place from time to time. Apart from a few happy memories, what draws me to this small island away from the city is the variety of cuisines it offers. Here are some of my favourite eats at Fort Kochi.
51 Xandari Harbour
This place, as the name suggests, looks out to the harbour. Located at Mattancherry, it looks rustic and is known for its European food. Perfect for an intimate evening, don’t miss the Seared Kingfish with Smoked Salmon Gnocchi. If you are looking for something with South Indian spices, go for the Mattancherry spiced chicken with saffron rice or the coconut and herb crusted Mahi fillet.
Seagull too looks out to the harbour. Known for Kerala cuisine and Chinese food, local artists can often be seen performing here. This al fresco restaurant is where you would want to take visiting friends to chat over beer and good seafood. The must-try dishes are any of the spicy prawn preparations or Kozhi varutharacha curry (chicken cooked in a gravy with roasted and grounded spices and herbs).
This quaint little café is a new discovery. Situated in the same building at No.18 Hotel and the Raintree Restaurant, Qissa Café has minimal yet pretty décor, friendly staff and fresh food. The ambience is just right for a day of lounging. So, get a book and plonk yourself at one of the wooden benches with a cup of Joe and a fresh salad. Don’t forget to try the cake of the day - I got to try the banana loaf cake, which was just the right amount of sweet to complement my French press coffee. Other dishes worth digging into are the toasted sandwiches - tuna/chicken or Pasta of the Day.
Craving some North Indian food? Look no further than Dal Roti. Known for their kathi rolls, this place also serves thalis - a great option for a sumptuous lunch and different paratha combos. The ambience is nice too, lit up with kandils and oil lanterns. You cannot leave without the mutton egg kathi roll.
Vattalappam at Brunton Boatyard. Photo via Facebook
The Brunton Boatyard has two eateries to choose from History, a Portuguese-Kerala restaurant or Armoury Café, known for finger foods. Though steeply priced, the food at History is worth a try. There are also dishes inspired by Portuguese, Syrian, Jewish and Malabar heritage. Go for the Egg Chutney Kebab and the first class Railway Mutton Curry, Officer’s Chicken Curry or the Meatball Curry. End your meal with Vattalappam, a custard of sorts made with coconut milk and jaggery.
Thai Pavilion, Vivanta by Taj
If you are looking to tickle your Asian tastebuds, the Thai Pavilion is the right place to be. Overlooking the Chinese fishing nets at Willingdon Island, this place delivers on taste. Be it the crispy konjee lamb or Thai curry with rice, your quest for warm and yummy Asian food will be satiated.
The author is a former journalist on a sabbatical, who is trying to find her writing voice. Her blog Bombay, Beatles, Bharatanatyam is inspired from the fact that all three have had a role in shaping the person she is.