A live counter rolls out crisp, yet soft Amritsari kulchas served with flavourful pindi chole prepared with an assortment of spices. A little away, hot butter-toasted pavs are readied to be had with a spicy, tangy, cheese bhaji, there is also the soul-satisfying rajma chawal, and garamchai waiting to be savoured with toast and cookies. It’s celebration time at That’s Y Food in RS Puram as the restaurant completes 20 years in the city.
“Coimbatore is home,” says Ranjana Singhal, co-founder, as she sits back to recount her journey over plates of crisp corn patakhas and herbed grilled chicken. “We started in 2002 as a standalone restaurant that served north west frontier cuisine, which we continue to do with a few additions,” she says. At That’s Y, a lot of things remain the same: right from the staff who come from across India, her senior helper in the kitchen, whom Ranjana calls ‘akka’, to the cheery, minimalist interiors. “It has been a journey with lots of ups and downs, but one that has been a great learning experience,” she says.
The restaurant has, over the years, hosted poets and singers over musical evenings and poetry sessions, kitty parties, not to mention food festivals such as an Awadhi festival that had chefs from Lucknow preparing a variety of kebabs. “People come to us for our dal makhni, kebabs, butter chicken, and desserts, that have always stayed on the menu. The classic mud soufflé has received unrelenting patronage from day one. So have potato dynamites, well-to-do mushrooms, and mirchi kebabs. During the initial days, some of our customers would ask for curd rice and sukku coffee to be served,” she laughs.
Their famed mud soufﬂé, the chocolate dessert with a molten, gooey centre and cakey exterior served with ice cream on top, has a huge fan following in the city. As an ode to the dessert, Ranjana has introduced as many as 11 variants that range from rum and raisin, roasted coffee, hazelnut cream, cheese cake and jaggery, that are available in takeaway boxes.
Starting a single-cuisine restaurant can be tricky, but Ranjana says it all boils down to good food and consistency. She also enrolled for management courses at ISB in Hyderabad while scaling up her operations, eventually opening two other restaurants, On The Go that offers continental and Indian, and Cafe Totaram. “We have to constantly upskill ourselves. I now have a social media team that takes care of Instagram reels and posts,” she says. Her biggest learning, over two decades? “We have to respect local sensibilities, staying relevant to the locals has been our strength. And, with that comes the trust factor. Right from seating, food, the smiles you exchange, everything counts as part of the experience. I have made friends for life here.”
On till December 4 from noon to 10pm at That’s Y Food, 24/49, T V Swamy (East), R S Puram, RS Puram. Call 0422436 5117/ 9786025992. The mud souffle takeaway will also be available at On The Go and Cafe Totaram in Race Course.