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Updated: November 14, 2013 20:50 IST

Mexican today, Italian tomorrow

Zeenab Aneez
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Ajay of Tabula Rasa
The Hindu
Ajay of Tabula Rasa

Ajay of ‘The Flying Spaghetti Monster’ restaurant talks to us about his new ventures in the city and why he prefers to keep things simple

The first thing you will notice about Tabula Rasa in Jubilee Hills is the rustic furniture and fuss-free design, a rarity to come by in the locality. Like the space, its owner, restaurateur Ajay’s working philosophy too is simple and free of extra frills.

“I like to concentrate on the food and am the most disorganised person when it comes to marketing this as a brand,” he tells us during the course of our conversation earlier this week.

While the general trend has been for established joints in Hyderabad to expand to tier II cities, Ajay turned the tables with The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). He has been running the restaurant successfully in his home city Visakhapatnam for the past three years, before turning his attention to Hyderabad. In Hyderabad, the restaurant is all set to open along with Tabula Rasa, which he calls an experimental space for food.

Ajay’s route to the restaurant business wasn’t straightforward either. Like most youngsters in the state, he served time at an engineering college, but just for a year before dropping out. “The whole studying thing was not for me,” he says nonchalantly.

Following that exit from formal education, Ajay, along with friends, went on to start a tech company, a project which kept him interested for a few years before he opened The Flying Spaghetti Monster in the port city. Why move from software to food? “What can I say, I have a short attention span and I am constantly looking for other things that interest me and I thought opening a restaurant would be something I would enjoy.”

The menu at Tabula Rasa very much reflects Ajay’s exploratory spirit and fancy for change. “While I will have my Italian restaurant up in the front, this space is for exploring. I plan on trying different cuisines with a rotating menu where we can continuously experiment with different dishes from Mexican to Mediterranean. The idea is to have a rotating menu where I can keep adding and removing things,” he explains.

Another aspect worth noting at Tabula Rasa comes at the very end of your meal; the bill. Ajay chooses to avoid the hassles of calculating VAT and service tax on the bill amount by going back to the practise of making all his prices inclusive of these levies. Thus, what you see on the menu is what you pay at the end. Given the malpractice by many restaurants in the city while calculating these taxes, this is good news for the consumer.

The concept of a restaurant with ever changing options is a novelty in Hyderabad and given how quickly city foodies tire of newly opened joints, this might just seem to be a recipe that will work.

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