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Food @ Trivandrum

Villa Maya: Trivandrum’s Best

Villa Maya is an upscale restaurant located at a restored 18th century erstwhile Travancore royal home called Arumana Ammaveedu in Trivandrum… Its a luxury restaurant that has won many awards including the award for being the best luxury theme restaurant in the world at World Luxury Restaurant Awards 2019… For me and my parents, this is a special place that we visit to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries ( of my parents of-course), etc and in-fact the very first post in this blog was about a visit here somewhere in 2017… Though I have been here a few more times over the years, as can be seen in that old post, it was mostly at night and lighting at night is a big issue for photography… So, didn’t post about them further… This time the occasion was my birthday as per lunar calendar and it was my mom who suggested that I go ahead and celebrate on my own cause my parents had other plans… So, I invited my foodie friend to accompany and here we are… 🙂

The place looked as impeccable as always… I felt happy seeing how well they have maintained the old mansion and there is also the fact that being here does remind me of my family’s mansion at Thalassery that was constructed somewhere around the 1920s… As we were settling down after placing the order, the waiter brought us the complementary amuse-bouche consisting of what he called as a Gol Gappa Chaat served along with some Chukku Kaappi in an espresso cup… Both were nice… Gol Gappa Chaat had perfectly balanced flavours with the flavours of the Gol Gappa shell and the Sev along with the favours of the onion, tomato, coriander, lime, chaat masala and the chilly and tamarind chutneys… Usually these chaat items sold at most places tend to overdo the chutneys and the Chaat masala so much that its impossible to taste any of the ingredients… But here, it was perfectly balanced… Chukku Kaappi is a healthy drink that uses Ginger powder and Black Pepper powder and can be quite strong… But its guaranteed to clear your throat and nostrils, thereby working as a cure for anything nose and throat related… The Chukku Kaappi that was served here had the expected the effect as it did indeed clear my throat and as for taste, it was indeed strong and spicy…

Coming to the menu, the concept is basically the Spice Trade… That is, being the destination to experience how the spices from Kerala has influenced the cuisines of the places that imported spices from Kerala, along with the best of what the Kerala Cuisine can offer to the world… The menu has indeed changed since my last visit as I couldn’t find anything that I have had before… Even my friend was hoping to try one of the items I had before that I told her about, but turns out its no longer in the menu… So, among the new additions from the menu, we had the Tom Kha Gai soup and Pulled Chicken Quesadilla as the starter… Then for mains, since both of us were in the mood for Fish, I went for their Meen Nirachathu and she went for their Meen Kudampuli Curry, both served in the form of a platter with rice… Finally for dessert, we shared a portion of what they call as the Yankee Cheese Cake with Salted Caramel… The following pics show how each of those were served…

So, lets start by talking about the Tom Kha Gai soup… I have had this soup before from another restaurant but this one looked completely different… The menu describes this soup as a Thai Chicken and Coconut soup scented with Kaffir Lime leaves and served with crackers… It was served as can be seen in the pics below along with a Prawn Cracker… First of all, that Prawn Cracker was just amazing – perfectly seasoned with the perfect flavour of Prawns in it… As for the soup, to be frank, it felt like a slightly creamy version of Tom Yum soup… The flavours of the Chillies, Cream and Kaffir Lime Leaves, were just spot on with the just the right level of spiciness for my taste… The Chicken pieces were perfectly cooked as well… Overall loved it and especially loved the combination of this soup with that cracker… I think I will be having this soup again if available, when I go back there…

Next up is the starter we had called Pulled Chicken Quesadilla… The menu describes this to be a Quesadilla made using spiced slow cooked Chicken served with Guacamole, Tomato Salsa and Sour Cream… It was served as can be seen in the pics below with the Quesadillas topped with Sour Cream and then accompanied by a Salad in the middle and served along with a cup each of the Salsa and Guacamole…

Regarding the taste, I was surprised to find out that the filling tasted quite Indian ie, flavours like the typical Katti Roll filling made with Onions, Bell Peppers, Herbs and Spices, but perfectly balanced with just the right amount of spiciness so that we could still taste the Chicken… The Chicken was just amazing – perfectly cooked, seasoned and yummy and the taste worked so well with the Cheese… The Cheese was also perfect as in creamy with just the right amount of sourness… The Salsa, Guacamole and Sour Cream was clearly made fresh and was yummy as well… The combination of the Quesadilla along with the Salsa and Guacamole was simply amazing for me… Undoubtedly the best Quesadilla I have ever had…

Next, lets talk about the mains and start with the Meen Nirachathu platter… The menu describes this to be Grilled Seer Fish stuffed with Mango and Coconut served with Curry Leaf flavoured Rice and Tempered Lentils… It was served as can be seen in the pics below… The Fish appeared to have been grilled wrapped in Banana Leaf and then served with the Flavoured Rice which seemed to have more going on than just Curry Leaves… Quite frankly, to me, it looked like Rice was mixed with a Thoran at this point… The Tempered Lentils was essentially Parippu Curry but not the Green Gram based one we see in most places in Travancore region, but rather it was the Yellow Dal version that we see served in the rest of Kerala… In addition to this, they have served a cup of Fish Curry Gravy and Pappadam along with Lemon to rub on the Fish if needed…

Regarding the taste, first of all, the Fish was well cooked to Indian standards and it was possible to take apart the flakes of the Fish easily… But what ended up being a disappointment for me is that they seemed to have fried the fish before wrapping it up with the filling in the banana leaf for grilling… It is because I am of the opinion that Fish ends up having the best taste and texture in preparations like this when we have fish cooked entirely from raw in the banana leaf… That way the Fish stays more moist and soft with the best flavour as well… This method that most restaurants use tend to the fish ending up overcooked and dry and quite frankly, though not completely overcooked, the fish here was definitely on the verge of it… But its fine for most people here as this level of cooking is preferred as per Indian standards… The filling seemed to consists of a Coconut Chammanthy that seemed to have been made with Raw Mango along with Onions and Mustard Seeds… There was also a flavour of Lemon in the Fish… The Flavoured Rice appeared to have been made by sautéing the unpolished Rice along with Curry Leaves, Onion, Tomato. Green Chillies and seasoned mildly with a little bit of Salt and Pepper… This rice tasted great along with the Parippu Curry and Fish Curry Gravy… Both were seasoned perfectly with the flavour of Coconut Oil and the Fish Curry Gravy appeared to have been made with Kudampuli as well… Overall, I could enjoy this thoroughly and my friend who tasted some of this also said that she loved it especially the flavoured rice…

Next is the Meen Kudampuli Curry platter which my friend had and I got to taste some as well… The menu describes this to be chunks of Seer Fish simmered in a Cocum (otherwise known as the Malabar Pot Tamarind) flavoured gravy cooked in an earthen pot and served with unpolished Rice and Chammanthy… It was served as can be seen in the pics below along with a Pappadam as well… What I noticed to be interesting is that the Chammanthy given here was the same Chammanthy that was part of the Filling in the Meen Nirachathu and the Fish Curry Gravy given with it was the same as the gravy of the Fish Curry given here… But there was one difference, which was that since this serving of the curry had pieces of Cocum in it, I could taste the flavour of Cocum to be more intense in this curry… The Fish was indeed cooked perfectly in this curry and just the right usage of the spices so that everything felt perfectly balanced and I could taste the fish very well… The Rice was also perfectly cooked and seemed to have the fragrance of Banana Leak in it… Chammanthy though fresh was just like most Coconut-Raw Mango-Red Chillies chammanthy thats served with Rice, but here the exception is that the seasoning and spice levels were perfect so that it had a pleasing taste over all instead of being sharp… Its definitely one of the best Fish Curries that I have ever had and my friend said that she thoroughly enjoyed it…

Last but not the least was the Yankee Cheese Cake with Salted Caramel that we chose to share and have from the dessert menu… It was served as can be seen in the pics below with the Cheese Cake topped with the Salted Caramel sauce and a piece of Strawberry and what I guessed to be a Red Velvet crisp and then served with some Whipped Cream topped with Candied Caramel bits and some powder that seemed to mimic sand to me… Regarding the taste, first of all, that powder was essentially coarsely ground Biscuits with Sugar Sprinkles… The Cheese Cake itself was indeed very soft and creamy unlike the Cheese Cakes we see in most places… The flavour of the cheese was incredibly rich but with minimum sourness indicating the high quality of the Cheese used… The amount of sweetness was just right as well and the Salted Caramel also tasted absolutely perfect for me… Turns out I was indeed right about that Red Velvet crisp at the top as it indeed had the flavour of Red Velvet… Overall, the combination of flavours especially when you have the cheese cake along with a bit from that Strawberry piece, was indeed amazing… I can say without any doubt that this was the best Cheese Cake I have ever had from Trivandrum and my friend also has the same opinion…

As we were paying the bill, the waiter surprised us with an item with complements from the Chef, which was Watermelon pieces topped with a Honey and Lime Sauce… He served it as can be seen in the pic below, also saying that it can aid digestion after the meal… As for the taste, the Watermelon was fresh, perfectly ripe and of good quality… The flavours of the Watermelon, Honey and Lime again felt perfectly balanced as was the case with everything we had… It was indeed a very pleasant ending to our meal…

That’s it for now… Obviously being one of the most expensive restaurants in Trivandrum, I can’t make frequent visits but considering the food and pricing in most restaurants these days, I am hoping to be able to visit more often… Fingers crossed 🙂

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