For an average Thrissurite, any noise less than the resounding beats of Melam is quietude; a crowd less than the vast multitude of Pooram fans swarming Thekkinkadu Maidan is just a handful; and a biryani that can’t beat the taste of a sealed pot of pure pleasure from Hotel Sapphire is bland.
A restaurant known for its cleanliness, Hotel Sapphire stands tall in the bylanes of Chettiyangaday road–a place where generations rush in hand-in-hand for their platters of ghee rice and the best biriyani in town. Apparently, it was Sapphire that got the whole of Thrissur accustomed to biriyani and other Persian preparations. Yes, they came, served and conquered.
Today, wedding purchases in Thrissur climax with a grand chicken biryani lunch at Sapphire. Merchants from Ariangadi, along with their families, celebrates their month’s profit with a dine out at Sapphrie. Birthday treats from Sapphire is a common refrain among the youth. In a nutshell, Hotel Sapphire has now become a part and parcel of a quintessential Thrissur native.
But if you ask me, I’d say the best thing about the hotel is that they do not freeze and stock their meat. Instead, they buy it fresh from the butcher: almost thrice a day! The owner of the hotel, Mohammed Faizal, says that such kitchen norms of Sapphire were not formalized overnight. “I grew up here, eating and cooking biryanis. I didn't craft any of these kitchen norms, nor did anyone else. It just evolved over time, out of our concern for cleanliness and food safety,” he says.
Although a non-vegetarian restaurant, Sapphire is a favorite food destination among vegetarians too. “We don't get the smell of fish or meat here. I am usually uncomfortable to dine in a non vegetarian hotel. Sapphire is an exception,” says a customer, as he washes his hands after a grant meal. “What I like about Sapphire biryani is its less-spiced masala,” says Dileep, a loyal customer. “I eat more than one Sapphire biryani at a time. And it is the best you can find in Thrissur,” he adds.
You get almost all varieties of biriyani here: chicken, mutton, fish, beef or prawns. Consistent quantity and reasonable pricing make Sapphire one of the most preferred destination among foodies. The hotel is also known for its breakfast recipes. Native Thrissur dishes such as 'appam and chicken stew', 'dosa and duck curry', boiled tapioca with fish, and the vegetarian counterparts of all these are well on demand here.
Kitchen transparency is another factor that makes Sapphire really stand apart from the rest of the hotels in town. With its open kitchen facility, customers get to select fish and other seafood varieties for their meals. With tall standing tables and easy take-away options, the restaurant is transforming to one major fast-food corner in the town.
Sapphire also has a dessert and cool bar in the same food complex: a favorite hang-out destination among college students and couples. With an interior balcony, mild bluish lighting and uninterrupted music, the parlor sets the mood right for a romantic date. The stall is famous for its array of smoothies such as 'Arabian Pulpy Grape Juice' and 'Deep Mint Lime'. While the former is a semi grape vine preparation with soft pulpy seedless grapes, the latter is a green herb smoothie that smells and tastes like mint and lime. The restaurant also has some unique frozen desserts, the recipes of which are known only to the Sapphire kitchen crew.
But if you think Sapphire's culinary delicacies are restricted to Thrissur alone, you are probably wrong! Hotel Sapphire has branches in Abu Dhabi under the same name. Thus, the hotel propounds a saga of central Kerala's love for Persian cuisine in just a single name: 'Sapphire.'