Last night as I was reading to my boys their daily biblical bedtime story about Jonah and the whale, I watched as their eyes lit up in amazement at the thought of a big fish swallowing Jonah up whole, and how he spent three days and three nights in its belly before being spat out in another country. It seemed like an amazing adventure, travelling out to sea, coming face to face with a whale and getting swallowed alive! Although spending endless hours in the smelly belly of a fish is not my kind of adventure, it contains what can be thought of as all the key ingredients for a good narrative – a hapless hero Jonah, an outlandish sidekick fish and a wacky storyline.
Today, as we casually strolled through the lower ground level at Phoenix Market City at Velachery, Chennai, my older boy pointed out the name Jonah to us. It was Jonah’s Bistro, a well-known restaurant and since it was nearing dinnertime, we had a hungry reason to get dragged in. Still impressed by the previous night’s story, these boys of mine actually began looking for Jonah as they ran in wondering whether they would see him just as he came out of the whale’s mouth, again.
The interiors at Jonah’s Bistro are inherently uncluttered and simple. Reflecting its primary theme of Jonah in Japan, there is an orange Japanese inscribed noren at one end with grey-black elegant sofas dividing the seating arrangement almost into small personal cubicles, creating nice distinctive family spaces. The minimalistic black interiors absorb a lot of light, and there seems to be just the right amount to highlight the vivid colours of the food you are eating and also enough to catch the glimpse of happiness in the person you are sharing the meal with.
We started the meal with the Chicken Laksa Soup which is an authentic Malay coconut curry soup with rice noodles, chunks of chicken and veggies including red and yellow bell peppers and broccoli. The taste of coconut milk and lemongrass are very characteristic of Malay cooking and are the highlight of this dish. The quantity is huge, and I would recommend sharing a single soup among two people, unless that’s all you want to have.
As a starter we ordered the Crispy Calamari. This consisted of deep fried calamari rings with a very delectable spicy dip. The rings were a nice golden brown, thin layer of batter around the soft well-cooked calamari pieces.
Next came the Prawn Nasi Goreng, which we ordered for our kids. Although this classic Indonesian fried rice is spicy, we asked for ours not to be so, so that we could be sure that our boys ate. They are a bit fussy sometimes, but thankfully they ravished it. There were sizable prawns in the dish which was served with a sunny-side-up egg, a couple of chicken skewers and some tasty prawn crackers.
I had ordered for myself the Grilled chicken with crushed pepper sauce and a side of French fries. A typical barbeque favourite, the chicken breast served was a well done succulent piece soaked in a thin sauce of crushed pepper with a tinge of lime. You can tell how well done a steak is by the ease with which your knife makes it out to be and the chicken served up was definitely up there!
My husband had ordered the Chicken Parmigiani, which turned out to be the best of them all. An Italian-American original, the baked chicken breast was serve with a layer of fresh tomato concasse and another layer of molten Parmesan-Reggiano cheese. The dish is almost like a multi-layered pie, with a tangy sweet baked aroma. Really delicious and a must try!
The drinks we enjoyed included a Jonah Bistro favourite called the Lemon Mint Cooler and the ABC blend. I loved the ABC blend which seemed like a chilled energy drink with green apple, beetroot and carrot.
Although my boys didn’t run into Jonah by the end of our meal, they seemed pretty satisfied with their meal, as were we. With huge portions and a exhaustive continental menu for a narrative, Jonah’s Bistro is definitely a must-do adventure on a foodie’s bucketlist!