Any foodie in Kannur will swear by the finger-licking fish delicacies at the Odhen's Hotel which they fondly call Onden Hotel. And once you have had the food at this eatout on the Onden Road near the Kannur railway station and Munneeswara Kovil Road, you will definitely keep coming back for more.
This accounts for the heavy rush at this eatery during lunch time. It is always crowded and you will have to play a game of 'musical chair' if you want to find a place. Trust us, this is not, we repeat, not the place for a leisurely meal. You come, you savor, you relish – and then you leave – for there will be people waiting outside to come in.
Now for a bit of history. Othenan, the owner of the eatout started ‘Saranya’ hotel around 75 years ago. It serves only breakfast now. The present ‘Odhen's’ hotel where people throng to enjoy delicious local seafood began 12 years ago. Avoli (pomfret), ayakoora (seer fish), chemmeen (prawns), koonthal (squid), ayala (mackerel), kallumakaya (mussel), cutla, natholi (anchovy), veloori (white sardine), mathi (sardines) and meen mutta (roe) turns into a piping hot plate of lip smacking dish once it enters the kitchen of Onden hotel. Kannurites know their fish well and they cannot do without their all-time favorite ayakoora. Hot rice served in banana leaf with sambar, fishcurry and pachidi is sure to excite your taste buds and that too for only 40 rupees.
Owner Jayaprakash says that the secret behind the success of their hotel is that they never compromise on the freshness of the ingredients. The fresh fish bought from the Aayikkara beach and market adds to taste of the dishes. The fish is marinated with pepper, turmeric, chili powder and tamarind; and it is fried in coconut oil to perfection on iron tawas. The fish roe is yet another hit among the food lovers. The aykoora or avoli eggs (roe) prepared with shallot, pepper and green chili with a dash of salt has conquered not only the taste buds of the loyal customers but also their hearts. As per availability sardine egg dishes are also served at the ‘Onden’ hotel.
The hotel is now run by Othenan’s sons Premarajan, Jayaprakash and Vinodkumar. Space constraints in the hotel do not worry them, in fact, Jayakumar says that even if they move to a spacious building it would be difficult to accommodate the huge number of foodies who swarm their hotel to savor the fish delicacies. They are not ready to compromise on the taste and quality of their food.
Their mother Narayani used to handle the kitchen giving instructions to the cooks and overseeing everything. Onden starts to get busy by 12 in the noon and it will be crowded by 1.30-2 in the afternoon. But the customers are ready to wait even till 3.30 pm as they know that they are in for a sumptuous treat. Dinner is not served at Onden because of this lunch time rush.
Onden Hotel is definitely one of the places which serve authentic fish delicacies of North Kerala; the simple yet delicious preparations here are liked by the celebrities and common people alike. The hotel is closed on Sundays and on festival days, and during Onam and Vishu Onden’s loyal customers have to wait for a week to enjoy their favorite seafood again.