What are the most common items on the must-do list of tourists visiting Kerala? A houseboat experience, a trip to Munnar and Kovalam, and of course, tasting authentic Kerala food. Kerala seafood is very popular with the tourists from all around the globe. Kerala is blessed with a long coastline, and so it is quite natural that we get the best of different varieties of seafood. But the taste of seafood dishes varies from place to place. Even inside Kerala, you will notice a difference in the taste of seafood served in Trivandrum from that served in Kozhikode. Kochi, the Queen of Arabian Sea, is one of the major tourist attractions of Kerala. Is Kochi good for seafood? Yes, it is. Let us have a look at the best seafood restaurants in Kochi, so that you can try them out one by one.
Darbar Seafood Restaurant
This is one of the recent additions to the list of seafood restaurants in Kochi. Darbar Seafood is a heaven for seafood lovers. They serve traditional Kerala meals, in the most traditional manner and at affordable prices. Food is served on fresh and clean banana leaves. A typical meal will include rice, Sambar, Pulissery, fish curry, pickle, papadam, Aviyal, Injicurry etc. This standard meal will cost you only Rs.60.
Seafood dishes are the highlight at Darbar. You need to pay extra for the seafood dishes, which will depend on the size and seasonal availability of the items. The sumptuous spread of seafood will make you confused about what to eat and what to leave. Tawa fish fry is one of their most popular dishes, and you can choose your pick from almost 25 varieties of fishes. Injicurry, a popular Kerala side-dish made with ginger and jaggery, also has many lovers.
Darbar Seafood Restaurant is a common man’s restaurant. As a tourist, if you don’t mind tiny dining spaces and a small wait for your turn, this restaurant will satisfy you. But do not expect any luxury. The only luxury you will find is in the seafood. Hospitality of the owner is another comfort factor. He gives his personal attention to customers, and ensures that every one of his customers get what they ask for.
Lack of parking space is a drawback for those who visit the place in their own vehicle. The restaurant is located beside a narrow road. It is a daunting task to find a place to leave your vehicle, if you are visiting the restaurant during the peak lunch hours. Nevertheless, if the food is tasty, foodies do not mind cramped dining spaces and lack of parking. This is the reason behind the success of this small eatery.
The name of this restaurant symbolizes a wonderful sight that we see along the coasts of Kochi. Cheenavala, or the Chinese fishing net, is an old fishing technique using huge hammock-shaped nets that remain suspended in the air. They are abundantly found along the shores of Kochi. The sight of Cheenavala against the backdrop of sunset is a delight for photographers.
Cheenavala Restaurant is one of the most popular seafood restaurants in Kochi. The restaurant concentrates only on seafood, but not just in the traditional Kerala style. Of course, typical Kerala dishes such as the Angamaly fish curry and Chemmeen curry are on their menu. But they also serve Chinese, Oriental and north Indian cuisine. They are also famous for their signature Cheenavala Thali meals, which include fish curry and Meen Peera. Guests have an option to pick their choice of fish or prawns, and they will cook it on the spot! The restaurant owners claim that their restaurant is one of the best seafood restaurants in Kochi.
Guests at Cheenavala love their food and ambiance. The restaurant is spotlessly clean, and has a soothing ambiance with soft lighting. They have a sufficiently large dining space as well. The restaurant has ample parking facilities, which is an added advantage for guests who come from far in their own vehicles. If you are on a casual outing with family or friends, and wish to eat without hurry, Cheenavala is a good option. Nice décor and good washrooms make it a great place for such eat-outs. But food is expensive. It may be out of reach for a common man. In fact, this is the one thing that most guests point out about Cheenavala Restaurant. You should be ready to shell out a few extra bucks if you dine out at Cheenavala.
The Machli Restaurant
As the name suggests, The Machli Restaurant in Kochi serves fish recipes. And lots of them. The tagline of the restaurant is a bit unusual. It says ‘pure non-vegetarian’ restaurant. But do not think that you won’t find a tiny bit of vegetarian food here. Although seafood and non-vegetarian dishes are their specialty, they serve vegetarian dishes too. A standard meal at Machli has a lot of vegetarian dishes such as Sambar, pickles, Thoran, and Kottucurry. But it is their seafood dishes that take the centre stage. Machli special fish fries are definitely worth a try. The restaurant owners use their own in-house masala mix for the fish fries which gives a unique taste to them. Neymeen mutta fry (fried fish roes) and Angamaly Sallas (salad with onions and coconut milk) are other unique dishes on their list.
The Machli is a restaurant with a decent ambiance. Dining area is very neat and clean, but it does not have a luxurious look. If you visit the restaurant during peak hours, you may find a crowd. There are no dedicated parking facilities as well. But the taste of the food beckons food lovers to Machli despite the minor drawbacks. Fish fries and biryanis are the food items that most guests love here. The unique masala mixture that they add over the fried fish has an excellent taste. This is definitely one of the best seafood restaurants in Kochi, if you are a lover of fish fries.
The Rice Boat
When we say that The Rice Boat is a seafood restaurant in Kochi owned by the Taj Hotels, it speaks for itself, right? The Rice Boat is definitely one of the best seafood restaurants in Kochi, provided you have a hefty pocket. This restaurant is a part of the Taj Malabar Resort located at the Willingdon Island, Kochi. Rice Boat is the best place for a fine dining experience in Ernakulam.
At The Rice Boat, it is not just about food, but the overall experience. The restaurant interiors have been designed in such a way as to replicate a Kerala houseboat. It overlooks the backwaters of Kochi, and gives you the feel of an actual houseboat. Cool sea breeze, warmth and hospitality of the staff, idyllic location, and delicious food, when all these come together at one place, would you mind spending a little more? If you are searching for the best spot to throw a party, and are in a mood to splurge, no need to think twice. Rice Boat is one of the places that guarantees the best seafood dining experience in Kochi.
Menu at The Rice Boat incorporates authentic Kerala dishes such as Karimeen Pollichathu, Chemmeen Manga curry, and Njandu Varutharacha Curry. The combo meal ‘Taste of Kerala’ is something that all guests love. Fresh seafood caught from the backwaters will take your taste buds to another level. Taj Malabar Resort gets plenty of international tourists, and The Rice Boat is an extension of the resort. So their menu includes dishes from all over the world. But even the foreign tourists who stay at the resort love the taste of authentic Kerala seafood. All said, The Rice Boat is way out of limits for the common working class of Kochi as food is expensive.
Tharavadu is a good restaurant for tasting seafood dishes. This restaurant is located at Varapuzha, which is a little off from Kochi. Here you will get tasty food at reasonable prices, so it is worth half an hour’s drive from Ernakulam city. Tharavadu is located beside a small brook that branches off from River Periyar. Homely taste of food is the major reason behind the popularity of this restaurant. If you step inside the kitchen (which we did as we were taking videos for Food N Travel), you will find that women are more in number. Most of their chefs are ladies with an expertise in cooking homely food. There are men too in supporting roles. Cooking over firewood stoves is another reason behind the tasty food that they serve at Tharavadu. Homely food and affordable prices are the two factors that make Tharavadu an appealing restaurant for commoners.
Tharavadu Restaurant is famous for its seafood meals. As in many other restaurants, banana leaf is used for serving the meals. The usual items such as Sambar, Mezhukkupuratti, pickle, Papadam and chutney line up over the leaf. Seafood special dishes arrive later on, and you need to pay additional charges for them. You can choose your pick from the dishes that they bring over a tray. Karimeen Mappas (curry made with pearl spot), Chemmeen roast (shrimps roast), Koondal (squid) and crab masala are a few items that you can taste from here.
At Tharavadu, they have biryanis and breakfast items as well. But seafood dishes are the crowd pullers for obvious reasons. Restaurant interiors are good, but not very plush. Nevertheless, it is a good restaurant to visit with family. There are parking facilities at the restaurant, so you need not have worries on that account. We would grade Tharavadu Restaurant as one of the best seafood restaurants in Kochi.
Fusion Bay Restaurant
Most people who have visited Kochi will agree that Fort Kochi is that part of Kochi which has a different vibe to it. Old buildings in Fort Kochi have a conglomeration of Dutch, British and Portuguese architectures. Fusion Bay is a rather inconspicuous restaurant located in Fort Kochi, but is famous for its seafood preparations. Although the restaurant does not look very appealing from outside, it is considered as one of the top seafood restaurants in Kochi.
Different varieties of Fish Pollichathu (fish wrapped in banana leaf and grilled) are their special items. So is their Seafood Chatti choru in which you will get rice and an assortment of curries, all served together in an earthen bowl. Mango fish curry and Appam also have many admirers. Food is spicy and cooked in the authentic Kerala style. Kerala Syrian Christian meals and Kerala prawns curry are the bearers of the culinary traditions of Kerala homes.
Fusion Bay is not just about Kerala cuisine. As the name suggests, the menu at Fusion Bay includes many fusion dishes too. You will get Jewish and Dutch fusion food also, to keep up with the rhythm of Fort Kochi. The interiors of the restaurant are tastefully designed. It is a mix of the old and the new, or the modern and the antique. Wall decors with bamboo baskets and clay handicrafts add elegance to the place. Dining area is not huge, but it looks classy. If you are on a tour to Fort Kochi and wish to have a relaxed dining, this is one of the best restaurants for you. The rates that they charge for the food are not exorbitant. Fusion Bay is one of the best seafood restaurants in Kochi where you get the taste of Kerala.
Periyar is another one among the top seafood restaurants in Kochi. This is located in Varapuzha, and is very near the Tharavadu Restaurant that we saw earlier in this blog. As Varapuzha is at a distance of 20 kilometres from Kochi, you need a short drive to reach here. Periyar Restaurant has an amazing location on the banks of River Periyar. It is a heaven for seafood lovers.
The Kerala culinary delight Karimeen Pollicahthu, is a star dish at Periyar. You will also love their Karimeen Mappas, fried anchovies, and crab curry. They use fresh catch from the nearby backwaters, so you are assured of the quality of food. A standard meal is a simple and delicious affair, complete with Sambar, curries, pickle, Papadam and even a Payasam as the dessert. It will cost you only Rs.60. Seafood dishes will cost you extra, and the price of the items vary depending on their size and availability.
Periyar Restaurant is run by the ladies’ group called Kudumbasree. Women are in charge of cooking as well as serving. Homely taste of food is the highlight of this restaurant. But this is not a high-class restaurant. Dining area is modest, and there is no air conditioning. When you have wonderful river views and cool breeze right at the dining area, would you mind the absence of artificial cooling? They have open seating arrangements too, near the riverside. This restaurant is a good place for a family lunch outing. Periyar Restaurant is conveniently located beside the Edappally – Panvel Highway, and is a wonderful option for road travellers. There are ample parking facilities here. It can get crowded during lunch hours, so if you wish to visit the restaurant, try to arrive early. This is definitely one of the best seafood restaurants in Kochi.
Sehiyon Oottushala is yet another small restaurant that attracts people more due to the taste of food than anything else. It is one of the long-standing seafood destinations of Kochi. This restaurant has been in existence for more than 20 years now. Even today, people love their food. The name ‘Oottushala’ means lunch home.
Though the name of the restaurant focuses on the lunch option, this restaurant is not just for meals. You will get breakfast dishes such as Porotta and Appam as well. Non-vegetarian dishes with beef and chicken are also available here. Seafood dishes are quite popular among guests. Meen Mutta roast (fish roe) is one of their specialties. Chemmeen Peera, Ayala Vattichathu, and Chemballi Mulakittathu are some of the traditional tastes on their menu. A standard meal costs Rs.70, which is quite affordable for a common man. Traditional food is the biggest attraction at Sehiyon.
Sehiyon Oottushala is devoid of any luxury. Dining area is sufficiently large, but with an ordinary look. If all you want is tasty food, this is a good option. But if you are looking for classy interiors and a place to enjoy with family, this is not a highly recommended option. It is mostly frequented by hard-core foodies and office goers from the nearby localities. As it is located beside a narrow interior road, you can manage to park your vehicle near the restaurant. We include Sehiyon Oottushala in the list of best seafood restaurants in Kochi, only owing to the tasty food that they serve. The list that we compiled here includes luxurious restaurants as well as budget eateries. Pick your choice from this basket, taste it out, and do let us know how you liked it.