Friday, November 21, 2014

Lunch at Amma Unavagam

Lunch at Amma Unavagam (அம்மா உணவகம்)

Between errands, I had sometime to spare and ended up having lunch at the Amma Unavagam on CP Ramaswamy Road.  I was mildly surprised by what I saw.. You would be surprised as well.. if you read on..
First thing that stuck me was, the place was clean.  In fact, it was cleaner than some of the private eateries I have been to.  Also, another striking thing was the gender of the employees.  From cash to kitchen, it was all managed by females.

Line Please - Unlike other places, entire experience was orderly.  People actually stood in line to get the coupons and again formed a line to get the food.  Both the serving lady and cashier was very polite and helped folks who didn't speak Tamil.  They helped customers who spoke only Hindi and ensured there needs were met.

Cheap - I asked for Sambar sadam and Thayir sadam.  Not knowing the price, but knowing it would cheap, gave only Rs.20 and to my surprise got Rs. 12 back.  In other places, one would not get Rs 2 changes but that was not the case here.

Hygiene -  The entire place was clean.  From kitchen to serving table to eating hall,  the entire place was clean and well maintained.

Food Quantity - Lots.  You get served two generous servings of each rice.  This would be a perfect for pre marathon carb loading.  Seeing the food piles that were being served,  I asked for one small serving of each sadam.  The serving lady didn't understand first but even after she understood, she wasn't convinced.  She not only served me generous portions of Sambar sadam and Thayir Sadam, but also gave me one bonus serving for lemon rice.

Food Quality - Food was piping hot.  Sambar sadam was little spicy for me and Thayir sadam (தயிர் சாதம்) was actually More sadam (மோர் சாதம் ). But the Lemon rice I got as bonus was good and I enjoyed it.

My only crib is that it was all rice fare and wish it was little balanced in terms of nutrition.  Having said that, I also saw a small vendor ecosystem mushrooming outside.  Few vendors, all ladies again were seen selling pickles, vadai and sides.

I went to Amma Unavagam out of curiosity and with low expectations.  But was thoroughly surprised by the overall efficiency and cleanliness and experience.  Keeping the commercial viability of these Unavagams aside, I do feel these places fill a vacuum and serves a critical segment of the society.  I only hope this model thrives and survives changes in governments.