The city is wooing the youth with an array of chic, cool hangouts that offer a variety of entertainment options. The young and the restless can choose from the latest in Playstation, Xbox titles, to the ever popular bowling. They can also indulge in steady traditional board games or try out a hand at jenga. The writer finds that the city offers the latest in hangout culture
Amoeba, the entertainment centre located on the second floor of the Gold Souk Grandé mall, has none of the mid day laziness the rest of the building wears. Featuring a bowling alley, a small pool table, foosball and a variety of arcade racers, Amoeba is the nerve centre of activity. The four lane bowling alley constantly has bowling balls rolling down its polished length as patrons keep turning up to use the facilities. The rest of the place is a blur of flashing lights and ringing bells, marking players’ progress in the various arcade games laid out neatly across the space.
Amoeba is one of India’s favourite family entertainment centres, believes Syed Bellary, operations manager (South Zone) of HM Leisure, the parent company behind Amoeba. “Our aim has always been to target the youth and the bowling alley is a great attraction to have. The interesting thing is that Kochi has a lot of youth who take bowling seriously. We encourage them by holding tournaments and maintaining a leaderboard,” he says. Amoeba is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Address: 2 floor, Gold Souk Grandé, Ernakulam. Phone: 0484 4044333, 4038547
Lokah Restaurant & Café
Lokah is a combination of a restaurant and a small café with an outdoor area for youngsters to hang out and have a good time. One of the attractions is that there are fun board games and a few books on offer for clients to enjoy, giving it a little of the old world café feel. A group of youngsters playing jenga testify to Lokah’s worthiness as a place to unwind. “This is one of our favourite spots to sit and chat for hours. Some friends get together and have a few soft drinks, play checkers or jenga and relax,” says Emil Manual, a recent class 12 passout who was enjoying a game with his friends.
Things to try on the menu: The menu boasts street food from across the globe, ranging from Manhattan hotdogs and Sri Lankan kothu rotis to Mumbai’s paav bhaji, apart from sandwiches and burgers. The café is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. while the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Address: NH 47 Bypass road, Vytilla, Kochi. Phone: 0484 4033220, 4033221
Beanz N Brainz
For lovers of board games who happen to be in the vicinity of MG Road, Beanz N Brainz is the place to go to. Started a little over a month back by IIM graduate Amisha Shah and her family, the café is located on the first floor of a small building near Padma Junction. The menu featured is entirely vegetarian, and the board games are as varied as the menu. “One of the reasons we went with a vegetarian menu is that I am vegetarian, and often there are very limited choices for people like me,” says Amisha.
But why board games? “Well, nowadays there are very few activities that families and friends can enjoy together. Even modern games are mostly played on mobile phones and over the internet with strangers, we wanted to change that and create a place where people could unwind and take their minds off work,” she explains. Beanz N Brainz is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Things to try on the menu: Amisha recommends the ‘crostini’ (a slice of garlic bread topped with bell peppers, tomatoes, mayonnaise and cheese) and the ‘high money bags’ (a flour bag stuffed with vegetables and deep fried).
Address: M.G. Road, Near State Bank of Travancore, Padma Jn., Kochi. Phone: 0484 4066171
Woot Gaming Lounge
‘Woot’ is the gaming lounge brother of ‘Chaicofi’, one of the popular cafes in the city. Located above ‘Chaicofi’, Woot has a dark ambience with glowing red lights and an abundance of options for gamers. For families and groups looking for some physical fun, there is the option of laser tag, a game anyone who has watched ‘How I Met Your Mother’ will be familiar with. Console lovers can let loose in ample comfort (they have beanbags) on Playstation or Xbox Kinect titles while hardcore PC gamers can drool over the Alienware X51 compact systems while they indulge in multiplayer madness with their friends.
Noorul Hijaz Tharola, Managing Partner at Koyako Hospitality and Entertainment Inc., who runs the lounge, says that laser tag was the first attraction they wanted. “Laser tag is a unique attraction we have and that brings in a lot of people. However the games are an important part of our identity as well and we have taken pains to model ourselves after ‘Alienware Spaceship’, Dell’s own gaming centre, whom we have a tie up with,” he says. Woot is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Things to try on the menu: Popular favourites at Chaicofi are the spicy chicken roll and beef burgers, best washed down with some icy granitas.
Address: Palarivattom Jn. Ernakulam. Phone: 0484 2340436
Playstation aficionados have alternatives in the city, namely ‘Choccochino’, located at Panampally Nagar. Featuring some of the latest titles such as ‘Call of Duty Black Ops 2’ and ‘FIFA 13’, the café is the brainchild of Aby Mathew, whose lifelong ambition was to start a café. “I have worked at many establishments, from Java Green to Barista and Café Coffee Day, but I always wanted to start one of my own,” he says. “The gaming aspect was mostly just to attract the youngsters, because most people do not have extra controllers at home and they are quite expensive. We offer the opportunity to play with friends and the response has been enthusiastic, I have already had about 14 controllers destroyed by enthusiastic gaming!” he laughs, indicating a line of controllers that hold pride of place on one wall along with some coffee mugs, providing just the right ambience.
Aby is also a very hands on manager, insisting on preparing all the orders himself and interacting with his clientele as much as possible to create a good atmosphere. And to sign off with a little bit of trivia, he mentions that he coined the name of the café in a manner that ensured that it had the name of the city included in it. Choccochino is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Things to try on the menu: A variety of coffees, sandwiches and burgers. Aby recommends the ‘Choccochino Blast’ a cold coffee with ice cream and whipped cream.
Address: G-214, 8 Cross, K.C. Joseph Road, Panampally Nagar, Cochin. Phone: 0484 4014848.