Drive to Midnight Meals- The New Indian Express

express news service

CHENNAI: A trip to Gopalapuram, serving hot meals in the comfort of your car under a canopy of leafy trees, and the camaraderie it brought with it – a visit to the Woodlands drive-in remains an unforgettable image for many Chennaiites. This includes Junior Kuppanna partners Balachandar R, Murthy K and Arumugan P, who are now offering the once novel concept at their new location in Kathipara Urban Square. “The government wanted to turn this CMRL property into a center and we told them that they needed a strong concert that would attract people to the destination. So, we started brainstorming.

All of us are from Chennai and have vivid memories of going to the Woodlands drive-in; we miss it. Also, while we don’t party anymore, we remember that when we did, there weren’t good food options all night long for partygoers. Therefore, in order to make the plaza a destination, we decided to make this place a 24-hour self-service restaurant. The government also supported us and because of the space here, parking is also not a problem”, they shared. While echoing the original is difficult, as it had impressive real estate, they admit the plaza is suitable for a drive-in concept, as it can accommodate 20-30 cars.

novelty, reimagined
It’s only been a little over two weeks since Junior Kupanna started serving overnight, but it was enough to prove the idea a success. With its strategic location (roads from various corners of the city leading here), the restaurant has been successful in its new hours. “Twenty-five percent of our sales have been between 12 am and 6 am.

We get a mix of families wanting to enjoy the late night biryani, night shift people at nearby IT parks coming for “lunch”, partygoers looking for food options, and airport travelers wanting to stop in for a bite to eat. . ,” they add. In a way, the statistics are testimony that the concept remains welcome among locals. The restaurant offers five menus, with some staples available for midnight diners. The establishment also has an outdoor area for events.

The 62-year-old brand has been offering Kongu cuisine to Chennaiites for almost two decades. They have more than 45 stores in more than 25 cities. It was established in 1960 by Kuppanna and Rukmini Amma in Erode and over the years has expanded its menu and offers recipes passed down from generation to generation. “When thinking of Tamil Nadu, people often turn to Chettinad cuisine, but that is just one of many. Kongu cuisine offers food tolerable in spices and since it is located between Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, there is a cross-border influence. An example is the liberal use of coconut in dishes. We, as a brand, also manufacture our spices for food”, they say.

on the sheet
Theory may help us understand the differences, but the real test is in practice, which is why CE headed for the teal and yellow establishment after a few minutes of searching, a couple of detours, and ditching on Google Maps hidden under the bridge. Kathipara. On a sheet encasing a steel plate, a variety of options awaited our judgement.

The Madurai lamb sauce did well to introduce the cuisine. Reminiscent of a Kerala hotpot sauce, the dish was spicy and savory yet balanced, tingling the palate in just the right amount. The accompanying parotta coin brought a nice starchy crunch to the bite. The Madurai Mutton (without the sauce) offered a chewy bite with the same flavors, but if one had to choose, the former would be the preferred selection. Peri Peri chicken, their South Indian version of the African spice mix, can look intimidating glazed with vivid red spices.

One bite coats your tongue with spice, letting the red chili shine in the salty concoction with a hint of tart. This, however, may not be for those conservative with their spice intake who may opt for oil-free Pallipalyam Chicken. Mild and fairly simple but not without flavor, the dish was originally created for a customer who wished to eat something with less spices and oil. It even got its name from the customer’s hometown.

While hearty and succulent, the dish would offer a better mouthfeel with larger chunks. The Vanjiram Fish Fry that followed seemed similar to Chicken Peri Peri in flavor, leaning more towards the spice. For another seafood option, we recommend the shukka prawn which was spicy and flavorful with a hint of spice.

While most of the sides were impressive, the Mutton biryani left more to be desired. Perhaps it was the familiarity with other versions, but it seemed a bit too tart and bland. However, combining it with the lamb sauce might help with that. All in all, a sweet would have been the ideal way to complete a meal like this. But we could wait for that until our next trip.

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