A NEW restaurant serving South Indian cuisine has opened on Basingstoke’s High Street.
The restaurant, Elai, is located in a unit at Anchor Court at the top of town and offers both South Indian cuisine as well as traditional British dishes along with some Indochinese options.
Elai is owned and managed by Unni Bala and Nidhin Satheesan, both of whom have years of experience in the hospitality industry.
Unni explained that although the restaurant faces competition from other restaurants, there are few places in Basingstoke that offer South Indian food.
He said: ‘You have a lot of Indian restaurants here, but traditionally there is no southern cuisine.
“This is where Elai stands out from other restaurants: the food comes from the land of the god.
“We cook all our ingredients fresh, so it’s fresh spices, even if we’re making a little stew, we need a fresh chopped ginger.
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“So you don’t get it anywhere in Basingstoke, and the flavors are good.”
Due to Elai’s focus on South Indian cuisine, the restaurant will serve dishes that will not be available anywhere else in Basingstoke.
An example of this is Keralan paratha, a type of flatbread that has multiple layers.
Unni explained: “In Basingstoke you can’t get paratta because you need a specialist chef to do it.
“So you don’t understand.
“Yes, some places do, but it’s not like here; they might buy it frozen or something, but ours is freshly made.
Another unique aspect of Elai is that the restaurant is located in a listed building.
Nidhin said: “It was built in the 1400s, it is over 600 years old.
“It’s very old, so we tried to preserve it.”
While the ground floor of Elia is a dedicated restaurant, the upper floor has a private room that can be reserved for receptions.
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Unni and Nidhin also plan to offer cooking classes to the public once the restaurant is fully operational.
Unni explained, “We want to educate people on how to cook food.
“In the lessons, we want to give good advice on how to cook good food, healthy food.
“You will be able to cook good food at home in a healthy way.”
Unni explained that he and Nidhin chose to open their restaurant in Basingstoke because of their connection to the area, saying: “I have lived in Basingstoke for a long time and Nidhin has lived in Basingstoke for over 15 years. It is our hometown.
Nidhan said, “We want people to come and have fun.
“We want to make it special.”
Elai is currently open for lunch and dinner, with breakfast and afternoon tea coming at a later date.
More information about Elai, including the restaurant menu, can be found on its website https://www.elai.uk/.
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