Whenever I am in Trivandrum and the name ‘Ustad Hotel’ pops up, I think of going for dinner to this local eatery. My brother and his friends can’t stop gushing about the fish there and it has been their favourite place for some time now. Somehow, a visit to this eatery kept getting postponed. Finally, late one night, we decided to head to Vizhinjam.
Located close to the Vizhinjam Juma Masjid, Ustad Hotel is one among the many shacks you can find in the area. However, you won’t miss Ustad Hotel with its yellow and blue board as you’ll find this joint more crowded than others. As you approach the place, you will also get a whiff of fried fish.
Though we went late in the night, we had to wait for a couple of minutes before we got a table. Like I said before, it’s a shack and so the ambiance isn’t worth mentioning. The place is very small with just about four tables and you might even have to share the table with other seafood enthusiasts. We were a big group and so we got a table all to ourselves.
Once we were seated, we didn’t have much to think about what all to order as we were really hungry. So we just ordered a plate of whatever was available along with appams and parottas. Soon, we had Jumbo Prawns Fry, Squid Fry, Mussels Fry, Kingfish Fry, and Pomfret Fry on the table. We asked for Fish Curry as well, but sadly it was over and we had to be satisfied with just the gravy.
The plates looked very appetizing with what seemed to be perfectly fried fish garnished with thinly sliced onion, green chilly, and tomato. We immediately dug into the food without wasting much time. For a while, all that could be heard was the sound of munching and chewing as we relished each bite of the appam/porotta with the fish, which was fried to perfection. It was difficult to not go for a second serving of fish. However, the squid was a bit undercooked and after being sent back to the kitchen, it came back all rubbery. Apart from that, we polished off the fish and fought for the masala crumbs to savour with the last bites of our appam and parotta.
The fish, here, is very fresh (no surprise, of course!). The day’s catch takes the taste to another level. The first bite into the well-marinated, masala-coated fish is heaven. The prawns and mussels were a delight and we ordered a second plate of each. The masala was a tad too spicy for us, but that didn’t deter us in any way. Also, the appams did help bring down the spice level a little bit. The only drawback was that it is the same masala marinade that is used for the fish, prawns and mussels. It is cooked and served the same way that. After a few bites, you would want a change of taste to break the monotony.
We were stuffed and in a food-induced coma by the time we were done. It was indeed a good dinner outing, different from the usual restaurants and cafes in Trivandrum. It is definitely worth the drive from Trivandrum as it is one of the best seafood experiences that you can get. Which reminds me, they serve tapioca and puttu as well for lunch, in case you want to walk in during lunch hours.