When one generally mentions South Indian food, the first thought that pops into your head is “Udupi” or idli and sweet sambar. Set amidst Escrivao-Waddo, Candolim is SOUTHi (pronounced South-I), at Zense, one of the newest boutique resorts on the Fort Aguada Road. This unique 20 room resort is compact yet a comfortable stay. They have five categories of suites & rooms to choose from to fit any budget. Zense also has the unique concept of tandem bicycles for their guests to explore Goa on.
SOUTHi immediately gets one’s attention as you’re driving along this busy road. There’s no concept of blink and you have missed the restaurant that is this little resort’s flagship enterprise. The setting and ambience comprises of simple stone and rattan furniture, which creates the visual of being more in sync with a contemporary restaurant, rather than traditional South Indian fare. The menu however, stays true to its roots.
Birthed by two well established brands Mahesh Lunch Home and Banana Leaf from Mumbai, SOUTHi not only lives up to expectations but far exceeded them with a modern approach to pan South Indian food with meat and seafood delicacies being offered beyond the regular idli-dosa.
All over India, the trend of regional food is growing. People want to experiment different cuisines, especially when on holiday and there is a growing demand for a larger variety of restaurants in Goa. SOUTHi provides pan South Indian cuisine from the western coasts of Mangalore and Kerala across to the eastern area of Chettinad that can be enjoyed by residents as well as the tourists that flock to Candolim.
One of the partners, Mr. Suraj Shetty attributes their success to understanding the modern Indian customer. “We savor the food with our eyes before actually eating it,” he says, referring to the attractive presentation of every plate.
The signature dishes are those that are relished in the south like Prawn Gassi & Neer Dosa, Malabar Curry (made with a choice of fish), Chettinad Idli and Kheema Dosa. However, there is a long list of delectable options that would appeal to everyone such as Chettinad Masala (made with mutton), Masala Idli, Prawn Rava Fry, Bombay Duck Fry and Prawn Dosa. The clay oven offers South Indian flavours like the Darwar Chicken Tikka and the Nilgiri Fish Tikka not be confused with the regular Tandoori dishes.
Moving on to the mains. The Kadi Patta Prawns, cooked with a generous amount of curry leaves, this dish will make you fall in love with its flavour. Used in almost all South Indian dishes, one is amazed by how well it goes with prawns served in mini cast iron skillets. The Dakshin Chicken, which we highly recommend to all who visit SOUTHi with its insanely delicious subtle flavours of spring onions with the thick coconut sauce is a treat for the palate. Coorg Roast Pork is a no brainer for those who like their non-veg dishes. The meat, which is slow cooked to perfection, is infused with pepper and cumin, and has little hints of cilantro that give it a little lift with that lingering freshness that only anything resembling coriander can do. You can even stop in for breakfast and try the egg appams or egg dosa!
The dessert though, win hands down. Having decided to try a series of tasting portions of different desserts on the menu such as: Akhrot Halwa, which is made by cooking walnuts in a mixture of rawa, ghee, sugar and cardamom on a slow fire, but at SOUTHi, it is made by blending chocolate into the mix; Belle Payasam, which to one’s taste buds resonates with the ever-Goan Mangane; Manappuram Halwa, is creamier but which is similar to ‘Gajar (or carrot) Halwa’, and Kashi Halwa, which is ghee centric and is made from ash gourd.
The bar in the interior area of the restaurant is well designed with colourful lamps and is air conditioned. There are signature cocktails on the menu such as fresh fruit martinis and the ‘Madras Breeze’. But a trip to SOUTHi is incomplete without trying the Sol Kadi, which is presented in a trendy jam jar.
With a diverse menu that serves up mouth-watering classics with new twists from early morning to late at night, SOUTHi is an innovative new destination to add to the foodie trail in Goa.