Balaji Sandwich Stall: Best of Chennai`s street food
By Nandini Tare
Before I left Bangalore for Chennai, my friends crowded me with suggestions on places I could visit in my new city.
One top recommendation was the sandwich shops near Alsa Mall. I imagined stalls amidst an expensive and up-market ambience.
But the moment I walked into Montieth Road, I realised I was wrong. These sandwich joints are basically a cluster of "shops-on-wheels". Of course, there is no seating arrangement. But you can sit on the steps at the entrance to Alsa mall without worrying about being chased away!
You have to place your order and collect the sandwich from the counter yourself. The `sandwich makers` are quick if the crowd is sparse and remember your preference if you are a regular.
Balaji Sandwich stall is situated at the entrance of Alsa Mall. There are a few others on the same street; but in my opinion this one is the best. Sandwiches are available here for as low as Rs 8. The spicy green chutney used at Balaji`s is unique and sets it apart from the rest of the stalls. The cucumber chutney sandwich is usually on the house and is a must-try. The chilli cheese toast is a gastronomic delight.
I got talking to Thangaraj, the owner of the stall, and learned that he had started off with a `tea kadai` back in 1985. In the early 1990s, he wanted to branch out, and thought it would be a good idea to sell sandwiches. He proudly showed off newspaper clippings of reviews of his stall.
Thangaraj says that though the competition is getting tougher, he is still the best around. He uses around 40 loaves of bread per day at his stall. Home delivery is offered to those who reside within a radius of 4 to 5 kilometres from this stall.
The stall has two branches in Chennai namely, `7 stars` at College Road and a stall on the premises of Scope International.
Ratings out of 5:
Ambiance - Nil
Food - 4
Service - Nil
Overall - 4