Food @ Trivandrum

The Much Awaited Visit To Cafe Mannam

Ever since I saw the review done by a friend of mine about a year or so ago, I have been wanting to visit the place called Cafe Mannam which is located on the Kazhakuttom-Kovalam Highway Bypass, opposite to Ananthapuri Hospital… But sadly due to constructions going on on the road, access was quite difficult for me not to mention the distance from where I live… In fact for the past couple of months, the owner of the place have been inviting me to check the food out saying he wanted me to check out his new recipes and I simply didn’t get the chance to make the trip as every time I planned, something or the other came up that ended up preventing me from taking that trip… So, after a long wait, I finally managed to visit the place…

Clearly the long construction of the flyover right in front of the restaurant has had its toll on the exterior (Having lived next to a construction site myself, I can’t blame them for it) as it does look like the place has had better days… Inside however, it’s not fancy like most of the newer places, but at least, the dining hall looked spotlessly clean… 🙂 With all the food photos on the wall, it kind of reminded me of how the Le Arabia restaurant used to look like, before they did the renovation… So, I ended up suggesting to the owner that he too think about doing the same, if possible… 🙂

Now, coming to the menu, they do have a nice selection of North Indian and Asian Fusion options in the menu… However, since I ended up going there during an off time, most of it weren’t available… However, they did let me try from their specials menu… So, I went for their Nasi Goreng, which I have been hearing for quite a while to be their signature dish which is the reason why I even wanted to visit in the first place… Along with it, I also went for their Chicken Manchow Soup cause you know, I can’t resist that… As for the drink option, the owner suggested I try the Apple Sin, from their mocktails menu and that was it for the day… Trying the North Indian and Tandoor options have to be for another day 🙂 The ones I could try now were as shown below…

So, first let’s talk about the soup… The Manchow soup as you may already know is a thick spicy soup made using a lot of Peppers and Ginger loaded with meat, vegetables and flavoured with generous portions of Soy, and Garlic and topped with fried noodles… It has its origins in Meghalaya, India and is considered to be a part of the Indo-Chinese cuisine… The soup here was served as shown in the pics below…

Regarding the taste, the soup felt both spicy and sour, in fact more sourness than any of the versions I have had so far… I guess it’s the quantity of vinegar used… The fried noodles were indeed crispy and the shredded chicken meat was cooked well and the flavours of the Chicken Stock, the Vegetables used along with the Soy, Ginger and Garlic were definitely there… However, I felt that the soup was dominated by the sourness of the vinegar and also, if I am not mistaken, I felt the taste of the Garam Masala/Curry Powder in it, perhaps inspired by the cuisine at Singapore, in which thanks to the British Colonialism, the Indian Curry Powder (also known as the Madras Curry Powder) became an inseparable part of it… Anyways, I felt that the soup was nice and indeed a must try… Personally, I just wish that the sourness was lesser…

Next up is the Nasi Goreng, which Cafe Mannam claims as their signature dish… Nasi Goreng is the very famous Fried Rice from Indonesia and Malaysia (origin is still disputed between the two, but widely available in both countries)… It is typically made with Meat/Seafood along with Vegetables, Nutmeg, Ginger, Garlic, Sweet Soy, Garlic, Chillies, Ground Shrimp Paste with Tamarind and Palm Sugar, all balanced to get a Sweet, Salty and Spicy Fried Rice… Some versions use Fish Sauce as well and it is typically served with Rice Crackers (mostly Prawn Crackers) or Fried Onions along with a Fried Egg on top… Here however, as the owner mentioned, the Nasi Goreng is a version that’s apparently quite popular in the Maldives which is different from the typical Nasi Goreng we get at Malaysia and Indonesia, and keeping to the spirit of fusion, it is served with a Chilli paste, slices of Cucumber and pieces of our good old Kerala Pappadam along with of course the fried egg on top… They offer Chicken and Beef variants, and I went for the Chicken version and it was served as shown below…

Quite frankly, I must confess that it really felt weird to see the Pappadam on the plate… But turns out it actually works with the fried rice… Coming to taste of the Fried Rice, it felt salty and mildly spicy to me… The rice along with the Chicken was cooked perfectly… The vegetables ie, the Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, etc were crunchy as well… The flavour profile of the Fried Rice itself, I felt to be mostly dominated by the Soy, Sesame and Chilli Oil… The Chilli paste made with Chillies and what felt like Tamarind paste to me, felt nice to have with the rice… The only fault I felt is that fact that the fried egg was a bit undercooked as parts of it were still in raw state… Otherwise, I felt that this is a fine Fried Rice dish that is indeed a must try…

Last but not the least is the Apple Sin mocktail… Sadly, desserts weren’t available at the time and this mocktail was what the owner suggested that I try informing me that it’s an Apple and Cinnamon drink… It was served as shown in the pics below…

Tastewise, I have no complaints on this one… In fact, felt quite refreshing with the nice flavour of Green Apple and Lime with a very subtle hint of Cinnamon… It was enjoyable…

So, that’s it for now… Cafe Mannam is indeed a place that serves some nice food… I for one, am hoping to be able to go there asap and try from the rest of the menu, especially the North Indian and Tandoori selections as the owner was recommending I try asap… So, keeping fingers crossed… 🙂

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