For the rooted Malayali, the smell and sight of the bun are usually redolent of a spell of fever. It’s when one runs a temperature that this puffy circle of bread appears out of nowhere, as a reluctant bite of forced diet. So bland, that many would want to avoid it their whole life. Yet there could be occasions when the bun would prompt you to break that silent vow. Say, when you are famished and the only thing available is the bun. The body, the belly, would want it. But not your tongue.
But then there can also be a happy mix of occasions when you are healthy and still have a craving to eat buns. That is possible only when you are in Kochi's Trikkakara. To be precise, in front of Cafe LatLong. It’s name as well as looks can woo a passer-by.
Inside, the cute eatery has a menu with a star item: bun biriyani. Come on! How can biryani get into a bun? Chef Ravish has his stock reply to such an existential question: we first make the biriyani and, then stuff the chicken pieces into the bun.
If you get the impression that each small bun has such pieces pierced into them separately, you're wrong. The bun itself is huge and gets packed with the biriyani and boiled eggs. It is then cut into pieces and served in three different sizes. The smallest is fit to fill just one adult’s belly.
Pleased to wait
Cafe LatLong is not meant for those who are in a hurry to get their food served or taken home. The customer needs to wait. For, it is only after the order is placed that the kitchen warms up to the requirement. The service is always customised, the food kosher. The waiting period last no less than 25 minutes.
So how do you spend that time? One way is to browse through those books kept in the shelf next to the tables. If that’s too serious a thing for you then you can munch on those little snacks while getting into loud chats with folks around.
At the end of the wait, the bun biriyani does reach you safe. It’s manager Vinod himself having carried it all the way from the kitchen. Eager to devour? Well, you may have to be patient a second round, this time much brief: see how Vinod opens the lid of the copper container. There spreads an irresistible aroma.
This is a special dish, and hence not routinely served at Cafe LatLong. Bun biriyani is prepared only towards the weekend: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. At noon and night.
Love the lava cake
Going by social media reviews, posts, and comments that speak highly of Cafe LatLong, the eatery is equally famous for its coffee and lava cake. These are available all through the week. You can casually get in, order, and get it fast as well.
Cafe LatLong is near the CUSAT campus, on the Maveli Nagar-Pipeline road. It isn’t particularly crowded and also has families as visitors, making it a comfortable place for the general crowd who would like to take time and eat at leisure. Sit for how long? Well, morning 11 till night 11.30 is when the cafe is open, owner Anju Bhaskaran would reveal, cryptically.
It’s actually three friends’ love for food that works behind Cafe LatLong. Jinu Jacob, Munna John, and Anju. Since was always about food that they talked when together, the trio thought of opening a cafe. Jinu and Munna left their job and Anju decided to support them in the eatery enterprise.
The entrance at Cafe LatLong has a bell that is meant for the runners of the eatery to get their feedback from customers. You can sound the bell if you enjoyed the food. Usually, many of the customers end up feeling like members of the Cafe LatLong family by the time they bid goodbye. So much for the warm hospitality. And many of them keep returning as well.