Now Zambar, Ambience Mall has a strong competitor offering a better time. It is Zambar at Cyberhub. Opened recently, it looks very different from the boat look that has so far been Zambar. Gone is the cluttering Dravidian paraphernalia which has been replaced by colourful South Indian cinema posters, Travancore colonial furniture, and an open, cheerful feel. Also undergoing a change is the menu, which now offers many more plated meal options and food from other coastal states like Bengal, Pondicherry and Goa.
We are greeted by Arun Kumar, the journalist- turned- filmmaker turned talented yet modest chef of Zambar. In our discussions it turns out that Arun has been travelling and researching new recipes, some of whom have found space in the new menu. One such dish is a humble, rustic rice kanji (Rs 95), which is meant to be a poor person’s rice gruel. It is an earthy yet hearty, flavourful bowl of goodness. The other soup we decide to try is the prawn rasam (Rs 125) which has a wonderful punch of pepper and a heady aroma of fresh cooked prawns. It is a most enjoyable rasam.
Idli in a pouch (Rs 195) comes next. It has small gunpowder coated idlis served in a cone, very much like peanuts. It makes a good time-pass snack.
Next we try the non vegetarian platter (Rs 315) which has small portions of Kerala tea shop chilly chicken, chicken 65 from Chennai, mutton sukka, and mutton mince balls. What stand out on this plate apart from the ever-tasty mutton sukka are the meatballs which have a fresh homely taste and the teashop chilly chicken, which is a great Sino-Aleppy dish. The sea food platter (Rs 495) with Kerala fish fry, south Indian calamari rings, Mangalore butter pepper garlic crab cakes, and gunpowder prawns is next. The calamari rings are unique with their spicy seafood stuffing.
Mangalore pork sukka (Rs 365) and Kerala tenderloin fry (Rs 395) made the Suriani way and accompanied by fluffy Malabar parota (Rs 60) are both interesting dishes. But what truly takes my breath away is the Pondicherry mint and coriander chicken (Rs 365) with a fresh, exciting and addictive green gravy, that goes perfectly with hot appams (Rs 60).
We decide to make the next course the vegetarian interlude where we are served an amazingly tasty Malabar masala curry (Rs 265) with idiappam (Rs 60). We also try the coastal Andhra mirchi salan (Rs 265) which is presented elegantly in a dry form, capturing the taste of the famous dish.
I have been looking forward to trying a combo which has very much been a part of my growing up. Puttu and egg roast is what we were served in the YMCA hostel I used to stay in every weekend breakfast. So when the Suriani egg roast (Rs 285) comes on the table accompanied by Puttu (Rs 60), a nostalgic smile appears on my plate. The dishes are exactly how I remember them to be, many years ago. And of course the taste is fantastic. This combo is best enjoyed eating with one’s fingers.
I have to return to Zambar for many reasons – the rice kanji, the prawn rasam, the Pondicherry chicken, the puttu-egg curry, the Mixed Malabar curry and the dessert, and anything else that my appetite can manage.
Restaurant Ratings (out of 5):
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.5 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs. 1000 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes | Home Delivery: Yes
Address: Ground Floor, Cyberhub, Cybercity, Gurgaon | Telephone: 99585-64400