Mar 25, 2012

Best fish food in Mangalore...

Years of eating and surviving on a 'hostelites allowance' helps in finding some of the best food joints and restaurants in the city, which are good, both for your wallet and your tummy. But the key invariably is in finding out these hidden gems. Over the last decade, so many restaurants and coffee shops have opened up in Mangalore : food courts, sizzler houses, lounges and buffets. Being a coastal area, you get really fresh sea food and an amazing variety too - be it fish, prawns, mussels, squids or crabs. The price varies from a lowly Rs 50 to  Rs 750 for the same fish, depending on the restaurant you visit.  There are nearly a dozen places that come to mind when people ask "Which is the best place to eat fish in Mangalore ?" 

However, if you ask around long enough, across various classes and professions - from shop keepers to doctors, manual labourers to businessmen - you will find one name popping up constantly.

Narayana.

Situated in the hectic Bunder region of Mangalore, Narayana is a small hotel which has been around for more than sixty five years. Unlike other restaurant establishments, which succumbed to the pressures of modern day cuisine and introduced new items in their menu, Narayans has stayed remarkably true to their recipe for success. 

The last time I had visited this restaurant was as an intern way back in 2004. Back then, I remember having a couple of pieces of Seer fish at 25 bucks a piece. 
So how have things changed in the last 8 years ? Not a lot, actually. 

The place is innocuously located in between many busy shops in the market place and can probably seat 40 - 50 people at one time. It is akin to the lunch houses and Indian Coffee Houses in that, everyone just comes in and sits at the first available seat.

Once you are seated, a plate is brought in front of you containing boiled rice, a traditional fish curry ( sardines/ mathi ), the vegetable of the day and some pickle.  
You will also be offered a glass of what is called Majige ( buttermilk with salt and chillies ). Almost as if by unspoken law, everyone who has been served their plate removes the tumbler containing the fish curry, emptying the middle portion of the plate. 

If you are wondering why, it soon becomes clear. 
Moments after everyone has been served their plates, the waiter arrives carrying a huge platter filled with a variety of piping hot fried fish straight off the frying pan. 
The usual suspects you would find on the platter are :
  1. Seer fish ( King fish / Anjal fry / Ney-meen ), 
  2. Lady fish ( Kane / Nonghal ), 
  3. Mackeral ( Bangude / Aiyla ) and 
  4. Pomfret ( Aagholi ). 
You just point out the piece you want and it is served to you instantly. 

After that... well, after that, it's like the ending scene from an Asterix comic book where everyone is just too busy feasting to bother. The sky could fall on our heads and we would have continued munching our food. 

I too really didn't bother to wait and take pictures of the next platter which had more varieties of fish - as you can see if you look carefully, I could barely keep my hands off the fish once it landed on my plate !! You have to have a will of steel not to ask for the second piece of fish when the waiter comes around the second time with a new batch of fried fish.

I personally feel that this is easily the best fried fish you will get in Mangalore and that is high praise, because there are worthy competitors for that title in this city ( Kairali, Gajalee, Meenas are some names that come to mind. ) 


And while you get all sorts of people sitting beside you ( from bluetooth-headset wearing executives to manual labourers ), the fact is, this is definitely not a place you can take a girl out on a date ! This is a place where people come to eat good food and then go have a grand siesta. 

The rates vary based on the season. I know you read that in any sea food menu card, but here they aren't talking triple digits - a nice piece of Seer fish could range between just Rs 25 -80  based on the season. They pride themselves on quality over quantity and it shows in the most important part - their food.

So the next time you're around in Mangalore and hankering for some sea food, do seek out Narayana Hotel. If they've been serving people for 65 years, they must be doing something right.

8 comments:

  1. Narayanas was the first name that came to my mind when I read the tittle! It has become synonymous with fish in mangalore!

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  2. Yup , the best in the business . Photos are mouth watering .

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  3. Wow thats a good piece of info ! Love seafood !

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  4. Rohan, exactly... everyone says that.. and nothing has changed in all these years.

    Team G SQUARE, hehe.. glad you liked them.

    Anita, then you know wer to visit in Mangalore.

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  5. This reminds me of a similar place in Hampankatta Mangalore by the name of akkamakka. It too serves at a very low rate and the same kind of food that you mentioned. I love mangalore for the food.. Sea food and some delicious icecream from ideal! Heaven!!

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  6. Wondering if I should read this or not as I am a vegeterian. Still read it as I non veg friends. This will be helpful when they need suggestions regarding 'best fish'!

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  7. Imthiaz31.3.12

    Wow !! Good one Roshan..

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  8. Maithili, never heard of it.. seriously where is that. I would have heard of such a name.

    CD, do tell them :) This place deserves all the publicity it can get.

    Thanks for stopping by, Imthiaz Sir.

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So what do you think ?