Chennaiite tells about food culture at Vadapalani

By Santhosh Mathevan Published on Aug 06, 2018 12:39 PM IST

Chennai: Facebook and Instagram are full of young foodies who seemingly post a lot of selfies that eventually flood social networking sites. This has even created an image that a foodie refers to someone below the age of 35.

But 61-year-old Naresh Kumar breaks this stereotype and stands out as a food freak who has explored all of Vadapalani’s street foods in the city.

He is a person who had been associated with food reviews for over three decades, writing about food corners in the locality in various journals.

Now retired, Naresh says his passion for food never faded away. He shares his views about the transformation of food culture in Vadapalani which according to him was once a glowing haven for people who love to eat.

“When we say Vadapalani the thought that comes to our mind is the famous Murugan Temple present here. When we think about food, a few hotels like Saravana Bhavan are the immediate choice. But, food culture in Vadapalani does not stop there,” Naresh says.

Elaborating on his love towards food, Naresh said, “As an old-timer I miss the chaat cart near the Mosque Street junction which was manned by a burly gentleman and his assistant from the North. But, as a solace there is a paan beeda shop which has been operating there for many years. Sadly the chaat counter and the taste have gone with the wind,” he says and adds, “I also miss the teeming crowd, especially during weekends there.”

He also has a soft spot for a particular ‘Idly Kadai’ chain of shops. “I think the boys at this hotel deserve a place in the Limca book of records for serving chutney at a fast pace. You enter the hotel, sit down, wash the banana leaf, and within the blink of an eye get served with four chutnies. That is one hotel where you do not have to call the boy for a refill of chutney or sambar.”

But Naresh is not limiting himself from the restaurants that are elitist. “Nerkundram Pathai is for the budget foodie. With a medical college nearby, it has become a students’ hangout spot. We get served veg noodles at Rs 60. It is a meal by itself and the taste of which I love. A murukku shop nearby serves hot polis at Rs 10.”

Naresh recalls his experience walking along the road, stopping at every food stall he crosses. “Opposite to the murukku shop is Muthu Nagar Ayya vadai stall where hot vadais and bondas are available at the price of (pinch yourself) Rs 4. The street is also dotted with bakeries and juice stalls.”

However, according to Naresh, foreign influence can clearly be seen in the food varieties in the locality. “Opposite to Kamal theater complex, you can find a small Shawarma cart. The nearby shops serve other chicken delicacies too. I am totally addicted to the flavour of these shawarmas.”

Years rolled on and Naresh has stopped writing articles about food. However, he still is exploring new food and cuisines that are emerging in the locality.

“I consider myself lucky to live in such an area where I am spoilt for choice when it comes to food. I have managed to cover most of the food available in Vadapalani. Still, would love to explore more,” he said and concluded.

He is a resident of Vadapalani. He can be contacted at 9940036120.