The Garden at Flowerdrum (Veg food at an all veg Chinese restaurant)
It’s echovme’s first restaurant review today and it’s evident that all of us are excited. Our first restaurant is pre-planned, and we are eager to venture out onto what will soon become the first of our many lunch dates. So, wallet full and cameras stashed, we head out to Flowerdrum- an all veg chisense restaurant, nestled quietly in the corner, on the top most floor of Prince Plaza, Egmore.
Flowerdrum décor and ambience
The corridor leading toward the restaurant is decorated with six bright red Chinese-lantern styled pillars on the left. This leads you toward a transparent glass door of the restaurant. The interiors of Flowerdrum are interesting – dimly lit and romantic, the lobby area is decorated with a Buddha face statue built into the wall with ancient Chinese embroidered, cushioned seat back chairs meant for waiting customers.
The seating is cosy with greenish saofas and dark wood tables in center. Well, if the restaurant is ever crowded, it is not today. We are visiting Flowerdrum on a work day of the week and there aren’t too many customers inside. In fact besides us, the only other customers there, are two girls seated at a far corner of the restaurant. Already busy into their meal, they seem to also be incessantly on the phone.
As we enter the dining area, we are ushered in by a waiter (presumably of an east Indian origin), who seems quite well dressed in a full black outfit. He even sports a funky hairstyle; actually, so do all the other waiters and according to Swetha (a smitten Flowerdrum fan) the waiters apparently change their hairstyles every single day! Certainly not the first place you would expect to find style conscious.
Anyways, we go ahead and choose a place to sit and are ready to order lunch. The menu cards are sleek, spiral bound and printed on art paper. The cover is black with a simple white Flowerdrum logo on the outside while the inner pages are tastefully designed with ancient Chinese vectors. Although, reading the menu itself was far more appealing as we through their mouth watering list of soups, starters and main course. The placemats state a pro-vegetarian quote stating the fact that many famous celebrities were also vegetarian – A nice little touch.
Exploring the menu, a mixed asian menu. There’s Thai, and even Malay dishes trespassing all the food items. We squabble for a minute and finally settle for the Tom Yum Soup, the crispy chilly babycorn and the crispy fried vegetable for our starters.
At this point, we realise that if there was anytime to get some good video footage, it was now or never. Afterall, none of us have any intention of getting out of our seats once the service begins. We start shooting our home video with Sorav behind the lens doing a pretty great job trying to capture every little detail he can lay his eyes on. The room is dimly lit and we’re at a lighting disadvantage. Still, satisfied none the less, we decide to continue our shoot. The waiters at flowerdrum are extremely tolerant. 10 min into our continuous movie shoot and we are never once questioned (I cant decide if this is good or bad really. What if we were terrorists or something of the like?). We only get the occasional eyebrow raise and confused look but never the foul mouth.
Our soup bowls are laid out and we’re ready to dig in. The two girls at the other end of the room are still engaged in conversation. This is nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that they still are on individual phone calls. Who could they really be? Sales girls on a business deadline? Private auctioneers making bids? CBI? We really are curious. Just as our imagination seems to be getting out of hand, Priya’s face lights up. The soup is finally here. It was a short wait and it smelled great! Our attention is immediately shifted onto what the waiter is now expertly serving into our individual bowls.
Tom Yum Soup
The Tom Yum soup lived up to its name. It was extremely YUM! With a strong aroma of lemon grass, the semi transparent soup revealed well cut broccoli, mushroom, Chinese cabbage and onion leeks waiting to be eaten out of our bright white soup bowls. The soup is steaming hot and our very first taste confirms that this particular choice is definitely not for the ginger-shy (Swetha happened to fall into this category). It’s a rather generous helping of ginger flakes and lemon grass that makes this soup just perfect for a stiff cold or a rainy day in Chennai. The carrots are cut round and its not my favourite shape of it in a soup but its got a pleasant bite and the rest of us are all busy into downing our soup.
Crispy Chilly baby Corn
Half way through, and we are served our first starter – the crispy chilly baby corn which really actually quite look like orange bullets. Sorav is determined to finish our mission and he immediately scoops a couple of bullets and quickly gobbles them up. A whole minute goes by and nothing happens. Phew! He’s safe! We all quickly follow suit. Out of the four of us voicing our opinion, Swetha seems the only one still idolising the baby corn. But her emotional attachment in the case makes her judgement clouded and we all agree that this is certainly not the best Chilly Baby corn. Rather they should have named it ‘Orange-coloured slightly Chilly flavoured cornflour bullets’. The baby corn is lost and seems utterly pointless in the dish camouflaged under all the batter and goop.
Crispy fried Vegetable in Schexwan Sauce
Our next starter is the Crispy fried Vegetable Schezwan style and SURPRISE!! This dish taste exactly the same as the baby corn!! Ok so what exactly was the point of a different name? Was this supposed to be funny? We all suspect that the chef happened to see the broad smile on Swetha’s face (trust me it’s a great one) when the baby corn arrived and so he cooked our other starter with the same ingredients.
The size of the bullets had just increased a bit more to maybe Shotgun pellets? Maybe… Well there’s nothing much you can really say about this dish. Yeah. Its was slightly better than the baby corn. (I don’t know why, but it was.) But given that we had chosen two starters on the far ends of the starters menu, we expected to at least have a bit of variety in taste.
Spicy Basil Noodles
In the middle of all the disappointment of the last dish, we ordered The Spicy Basil Noodles for our main course. The noodles shortly arrived and also smelled of ginger and lemon grass. The Basil however was refreshing and light, and except for the noodles being a little bit too oily, they tasted great! The portions of food at flowerdrum are great as well (literally!). Each portion easily serves four hungry people with enough to spare. We’ve had our fill and ask the waiter to parcel the rest of the noodles.
Dessert: Ice Kachung
Stomachs full, we’re really contemplating on whether or not we should order dessert. Swetha’s advertising the Ice Kachung made it quite irresistible and its our final choice of the day. Ice kachung is originally a malyasian dessert and the waiter shortly arrives with what looks like a Barbie doll-ice cream crossed with a rabdi gola. Sorav is immediately observant of its similarity to the north Indian speciality and he wonders how different its actually going to be. Priya draws a similarity of the dish to a familiar one she had in Singapore. I guess there really is a version of the rabdi gola in every part of the world. We all dig in and its heaven all the way!
The Ice Kachung is pleasantly scented with a mild rose essence that makes the perfect combination with the ice cream, shaved ice, bits of pine-apple and strawberry syrups. This Malaysian dessert we can certainly welcome. Any day. Any time.
Its finally the end of our long eventful lunch and despite it seeming like we started our review an era ago, its only 45 minutes on the clock. I guess time does stop with great company and food to go along with it. You won’t believe it but our CBI agents are still busy on their phones. We ask for the check, settle the bill and click loads of photos for our record. We even convince the waiters to do their poses. Our final picture is a group photo taken by the waiter and thus ends our very first review of an interesting lunch.
Personally, I’ve tasted a much better Crispy baby corn and crispy vegetable. But only in restaurants with a mixed kitchen. For those of you who are particular about an exclusive vegetarian kitchen for Chinese food, Flowerdrum is a must visit. I would rate it a 6/10 stars. For the rest of you who are open to experiment, you need to hold on till we discover more food for you at our next peppy food joint.
P.S: By the way for those of you who were quirked with more info on the CBI agents as we were, we finally discovered who they were on the phone with. Duh!! Could it be more simple? as we were leaving Flowerdrum, they were promptly joined by their boyfriends. Double dating? It seems pretty obvious now doesn’t it? J
Vernicia Drooge for echoVME