Buhari and eating at midnight

I am told that people in Nagercoil during the 80s had a peculiar way of greeting someone who has made a trip to Chennai. “Did you have the biryani in Buhari?” they would ask. From the way the Chennai visitor replies, the person in Nagercoil would renew his or her own memories of tasting the biriyani.

I am not sure if this custom is true. I have never heard such a conversation, only the story. I am sure the hotel and the dish keep changing according to the tastes and trends. But it was true that Buhari was a widely popular hotel, the one that ironically acquired legendary status soon after it stopped being good. I suspect the hotel was even closed down for a while.

Buhari was just over a kilometre from my previous place of work. After finishing my shift, I would drive to Buhari very often. I hated biriyani, so I would usually order parotta and chicken. Frankly, it was not nearly good. The service was cantankerous. It was as if they didn’t want you to go there. But I had little choice.

That was to change. A few months ago, Buhari was revamped. Someone finally plumped in money into what was almost a lost brand and Buhari was reborn. It now could boast of a restaurant that was as good as Choice across the road or the restaurant just in front of Devi Theatres. The service now there is quite good. It’s fast and pleasant. No of the old grumpy behaviour is there. The food though not great is still good. You get the basic choices of chicken and mutton – the roast, the masala and the curry.

There is also a counter for cakes. I will never forget my last New Year. Tired after work and irritated that I had to go and work on a holiday, I bought two plum cakes and ate them up watching DVDs at home. It was as if I had forged my own story with the Buhari legend.

3 Comments so far

  1. musafir (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    Now that’s a weird coincidence. I had some relatives of mine come over from Nagercoil and ask me about Chicken 65 at Buharis. I am not saying all the people living in Nagercoil have a general opinion, but yes Buharis did have a kinda brand equity in those days. After I came over to chennai, one of my first visits was to Buhari. But it was a very disappointing experience.

  2. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on November 25th, 2006 @ 12:43 am

    Yes Buhari food tasted good in the hey days. They had branches in many parts of Chennai – opposite Flower Bazaar Police Station, the Buhari at MountRoad close to Devi Theatre/ Cosmopolitan Club (which is still there), opposite Central Station and one at the Marina Beach close to the swimming pool. Juke box was an attraction at the Beach restaurant and there used to be an open air restaurant at the first floor. This structure is demolished now.

  3. suppamani (unregistered) on November 26th, 2006 @ 10:40 am

    On those days the Juke Box was seen with wonder. In the same you can choose your favourite songs and insert a rupee or two coin and in turn the same would be played for you. Those days the teenage sait boys booked “Thum RO Thum” song for several time to repeat by inserting coins as choice for several continuous times and seeping tea and enjoys cakes there. I could’nt forget this still.But subsequent days when prohibition was scrapped the place was used as an unlicensed Bar and beocme unpopular and vanished in tinmes.

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