Home to colonial bungalows for railway officers, as well as tree-lined avenues dotted with schools and colleges, the former residential area of Nungambakkam in central Chennai has in recent years become an upscale lifestyle destination. The epicentre of this development is Khader Nawaz Khan Road (KNK Road for short) – lined with restaurants and cafés, designer boutiques and art galleries.
Tucked down a dead-end street, this bright and airy ice cream shop, with its tree trunk-shaped tables, uses the freshest ingredients from local producers. It serves up ice cream cakes as well as over 200 gourmet ice cream and sorbet flavours. The chocolate cake with salted caramel and the dark chocolate sorbet are must-trys.
Offering just six rooms – each named after Indian flowers – this boutique hotel is all about vintage art, designer wallpaper, fourposter beds and rug-strewn wooden floors. The rooms are surrounded by a tranquil garden, a respite from the hubbub of Chennai. You can dine at Nolita, the chic in-house restaurant and pizzeria that draws its name and inspiration from the New York neighbourhood famous for its Neapolitan-style pizza.
Nestled in a tiny lane, this is one of Chennai’s oldest privately owned art galleries. Started in 1984 by local artist and collector Sharan Apparao, the gallery’s walls showcase paintings, ceramics and sculptures from up-and-coming Indian artists. The gallery also hosts workshops covering everything from art appreciation to using art to explore emotions. Recent exhibitions have featured glass sculptor Anjali Venkat and the drawings of celebrated artist Ganesh Pyne.
This lifestyle store stocks the best artisanal goods from Auroville, a commune in Tamil Nadu known for handmade products, from herbal cosmetics and scented candles to furniture, lamps, chocolates and cheese. Stroll past the small lotus pond in front and into the store to check out the organic body scrubs, soap bars and coconut oil. They also stock silk stoles, shawls and notebooks made out of cotton and biodegradable material – all of which make great gifts.
5. Nasi and Mee
This popular restaurant, whose name literally translates to “rice and noodles” in Bahasa, is located on the first floor of a nondescript building on KNK Road. With a live kitchen at one end, the establishment’s canteen-style décor is accentuated by industrial-chic furniture and a colourful mural of a man eating noodles. Part of a South Indian chain started by a fourth-generation Malaysian Indian, Nasi and Mee shares this heritage through its rich fusion menu of dishes from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. That means everything from Thai Massaman curry and dim sum to lotus stem with honey and chilli.
SilkAir flies three times a week between Singapore and Chennai. Singapore Airlines flies daily between Singapore and Chennai
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine