Benjarong, Chennai, India

15 Jan

Chennai, Jan 2012

it seems to me that the universe is being particularly kind when it comes to satisfying my foodie cravings. if not, how else do you explain the fact that just a few days after raving about how much i love thai food to one friend, another friend suggests that we visit this awesome place called Benjarong for ‘thai dinner night’? i love thee, my personal foodie guardian angel! 🙂

if you have not visited Benjarong before, you might do the same thing i did and miss seeing it. located along TTK road next to French Loaf Bakery, the restaurant is tucked away from the main road. when you reach, there is valet parking, so you don’t have to fuss about having to park the vehicle in the limited space.

unlike some fine-dining restaurants i have been to, Benjarong doesn’t awe you with size. ‘quaint’ is the word that comes to my mind when i see the not-so-tall wooden doors adorned with a welcoming thai statue, that open up into a beautifully decorated space. soft yellow lights accentuate the rich brown of the furniture, the wall paintings and a small reclining buddha that catches my fancy. the tables do seem to be placed a little close to each other, but once we were seated, there was no sense of overcrowding.

right after we were given the menus, a waiter brought us a plate set with some basil leaves and little cups filled with assorted ingredients – shredded sweet coconut, peanuts, cut red chillies, small cubes of yellow lime, bits of onion, and a nut-like substance i don’t know the name of. in the center was a bowl with thick, ebony-coloured sweet sauce. i followed my friend’s example, and made a one-bite salad, using a basil leaf piled with a bit of each ingredient (minus the red chilly) and a drop of sauce, and popped the whole thing in my mouth – and boy, was it amazing! 🙂 sweet, tangy, pungent – all together in miniscule proportions underlined by the fresh, earthy taste of basil! it was a wonderful start, and whetted our appetites for the meal to follow.

by this time, i had high hopes for the food. we began with tofu satay – sticks of rectangular tofu coated with spices and then grilled, and served with thick, spicy peanut sauce. it was sheer pleasure in every bite, evidenced the fact that we practically wiped the sauce bowl clean with bits of tofu! 🙂 then came the main courses – green curry (served with rice) and phad thai phak (flat noodles tossed with veges and spices). the green curry was wonderfully replete with coconut milk and signature thai spices that left a tingle on my taste buds. the phad thai phak was moderately spicy with the tossed veges adding a nice crunch to the dish. the portions are generous, so sharing is welcome! we were also served lemongrass tea, which is a mild drink with a very subtle hint of the spice – this was the first time i was trying it, and found it to be a nice addition to the meal.

Benjarong is perfect for a special dinner with friends or family. the food is excellent, the ambience is beautiful, and the waiters are extremely courteous and attentive without being intrusive. my only grouse about the evening was that we were too full to try out the desserts – but hey, there will always be a next time! 🙂

*Photos courtesy of Benjarong (

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