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    Nutcracker’s new buffet impresses with variety, while their Japanese menu scores.

    Recently we had explored the spurt of business hotels along the OMR stretch and had noted the two-month-old Days Hotel for offering the comforts of a leisure property at competitive rates. But last Sunday saw us taking the long drive to Padur to sample dishes at their restaurant, Nutcracker, that promises “nearly 100 dishes” at their buffet.  Prakash Chandran, vice president of the 57-room property tells us, “Our menu is designed to cater to every palate — from local dishes to North Indian and Continental fare — and even an exclusive Japanese menu for our regular clientele.”

    Food central
    The buffet includes a healthy Mongolian live counter, besides a pasta station, a kid’s counter (think smileys, nuggets and marshmallows) and a lineup of spicy Andhra podis made in-house, with options like crab gravy (nandu malli peretal) and staples like mutton biryani for mains. The appetisers feature chicken satay that surprises with a delightful kick of Chettinad spice in the peanut sauce, while the prawn money bags look nearly too pretty to eat and the pachai pattani masala vada is a delicious variation. Chandran insists we try his favourite, the karuvepillai yera—a good call as the prawns are plump, juicy and seared with curry leaf masala (an addictive preparation indeed). Though the dessert counter is crowded with the likes of payasam, mango flan, strawberry shots and more, I go for the paan ice cream from the a la carte menu — that makes for a sweet and fragrant conclusion for the lunch of excess.

    Japanese corner

    Besides bento box for brekky, the starters include crispy vegetable tempura and a tad tame torino karaage. The chukadon comprises sticky rice with a saucy mixed seafood and veggie side. But their soba noodles in tonkatsu sauce—stirring as if alive!—has our attention. Executive chef, S Sathiyaseelan explains that it is the katsuobushi—shavings of dry, smoked bonito flakes—that wriggle when sprinkled over hot food. It’s a hit with deliciously balanced umami flavours.

    Buffet at Rs 777 plus taxes. At Days Hotel, OMR. Detail: 30001444

    — Sabrina Rajan

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