Caveat: A long but pictoral post ahead. Most pictures taken on my phone who has an average IQ, please pardon the quality.
It was about 13:10 hours on a balmy Monday afternoon at Mangalore Central Railway Station. The Matsyagandha was ready to begin her journey to Mumbai and announced that by a hooting whistle. As I took my seat by the window, my mind wandered back to the to the last few days that I had spent in my home town.
This trip (it was an important one for me on the personal front) was planned four months in advance and while planning this trip I had a plan. I wanted to try food beyond whats usually cooked at the relatives. And when you reach the end of this post, you will be realise how glad I was to do that. Another thing I did was ignore the pricey star rated restaurants and went in for the smaller no -frills places. Again, a gamble that paid rich dividends.
The Chinese are coming. Hotel Hao Ming, Collectors Gate, Balmatta.
Tell someone that you get some really good Chinese food in Mangalore and you are sure to get a few smirks. I visited this place in 2013 on my last trip with my cousin. We were fairly jaded with the coconutty gravies and yearned for something that could break the clutter. I dont really remember what we ate back then but the restaurant left an impression. And if that impressions stays on your mind for a good two years, I presume it must be jolly good. The restaurant by itself is fairly basic in terms of decor; like you would get in any regular CHinese joint in Mumbai. The menu is a mix between Indian Chinese and some authentic stuff. I saw pork spareribs on the menu. I dont think there is beef. But again for a smallish place, fairly energetic and competent wait staff.
The appetizer was a crispy chicken. I presume this may be a best seller in the restaurant because in a crowded rush hour I observed this being ordered at almost every table. A few nibbles later, I figured why. When you have chicken thats seasoned perfectly, coated with finely shredded cabbage and fried like a dream, it will be a hit. This is the dish for a game night with many pints of beer
Our mains were a Chef Special dish i ordered on the recommendations of our waiter. It a fairly large portions that is a combination of a chicken gravy and you can either choose Noodles or rice. I opted for noodles. The gravy had a nice consistency and wasnt gloppy or corn floury like the ones in Mumbai. I particularly loved the generous amount of chicken.in the dish. Couldn’t figure out what the fried cabbage was doing there as a garnish. I guess the chef loves his greens.
This is how it looked when we decimated it.
The plate over flowed at the Tulu Nadu food festival, Hotel Simbly South, Balmatta.
Can you describe that feeling when you get a bonus cheque along with your salary. Something similar was what i felt when I seen an advertisement for a Tulu food festival close to where we were staying. A few glances exchanged and we knew our next pit stop. 27 items on the menu. I was too small a man to finish this and so we decided to share one thali among the three of us. Simply put, a kings feast.
You thought it would cost a king’s ransom? Check the price on the top right of the image.
To pick one of my favorites from this meal would be like asking a mother to pick between her two kids. Everything on the platter was well thought about making it not only a treat to the palette; but to your senses. If i still have to be partial, I would say i liked the white chutney and the chicken sukkha amongst all.
Mutton Sukkha and Neer Dosa at Hotel Simply South, Balmatta
Its not very often that I visit a restaurant for the second time. But if i do, that means the place has something special that was left to be tried. Whilst exploring the menu during the thali, I seen there was a mutton sukkha. Now for us Mangaloreans, a mutton or beef or a chicken sukkha is an alter ego. Its the dish your mum makes the best. Something told me i needed to try this. A second visit was to be made. I came back for the mutton sukkha that evening and with it I called for the etrnal workhorse of Mangalorean food the Neer dosa or paan pole. What a dish. A handful of ingredients each coming together as a beautifully as the philharmonic orchestra.. Bite sized lamb pieces just tossed in coconut oil, lots of pepper, some chili and tons of coconuts. And accompanied by pillowy soft dosa. food heaven if someone could ever experience. See the pictures and let them tell you.
And, an Ideal Dessert place- Ideal Ice Cream Parlour, Hampankatta
Tucked away in one corner of Mangalore city is Hampankatta Market. Mangalores Crawford Market. Tucked in a corner of the market is Ideals Ice cream parlour. Whats so special about the ice cream. Everything I’d say. Far away from the gelatos and the gourmet ice creams the world is moving towards, here is a place that offers doesnt mess with traditional flavours; on the contrary, the flavour combines with other flavours and knicks to elevate it to levels where you can smile. Because something cold you’ve eaten just warmed the cockles of your heart. The only flavour i didnt like was Tiramisu. Perhaps because of my aversion of coffee in desserts. The rest of them, added an inch to my smile and my waist.
After most meals I could only curl up and grab my fair share of sleep. In a later post, I will try and share some home cooked food experience of Mangalore. Meanwhile, do keep those warm letters of concern coming in. It feels nice to hear from you even outside the blog. 🙂