The “Kerala Chicken with Indian Sweet Potato and Chickpeas” at OVT stands out from the staple campus restaurant menu of sandwiches and burgers, which is exactly what drew me to it.
Oceanview Terrace (OVT), a UCSD eatery in Thurgood Marshall College, was under construction my freshman year, and I was drawn by promises of a “Spice Station” menu and the ocean sprawled below. My love for spicy foods sometimes exceeds my actual spice tolerance, but I figured that I could handle whatever OVT had in store at me.
First, I did some digging into the background of this dish to try to gauge its authenticity at OVT. The Indian state of Kerala’s typical cuisine is distinguished by its use of coconut and abundance of spices. At this point, I had heard all I needed to hear and was ready to eat!
I opted for the side of chickpeas and sweet potatoes to round out what was looking to be a fairly health-conscious meal. The plate consisted of a hefty piece of chicken coated with a light sauce alongside a medley of muted orange and brown notes reminiscent of an Indian spice bazaar.
Bracing myself for a spicy kick, I was surprised by a subtly sweet flavor accentuated by the natural sugariness of the sweet potatoes. The tones of spices and coconut were much milder than expected, culminating in a sweet and savory dish that was satisfying but ultimately failed to generate the flavor shock that I initially envisioned.
My final conclusion was that the “Kerala Chicken” was a decent, healthy dish. However, it failed to impress me and probably wasn’t worth the $6-8 price tag given the other on-campus options one could choose instead! I also have doubts about its authenticity given the lack of strong flavor and subdued spice use.
Have you tried the “Spice Station” at Oceanview Terrace? Let us know in the comments!