A vegetarian reviewing a Mangalorian restaurant that specializes in sea food? Well, we vegetarians eat too, you know? Anyway, here’s my review along with excerpts from my two non-vegetarian friends who accompanied me to Ankur at Fort.
Food- I hadn’t eaten Mangalorian food before and this was a first for me so we asked the owner Mr. Devdas to recommend things to eat. So, some of their dishes are named after places and they use masalas made in house. Even the paneer they use is made in house. He suggested we try the Kerala Paneer (Paneer mixed in an herbs & pepper paste). Even though a little spicy because of the pepper, the herbs used made the dish flavourful and delicious! I had that on my second visit as well because it was that good! My mouth still waters everytime I think of it! We tried the Kerala potatoes in the same paste but that was nothing compared to the paneer. Another starter with potatoes was the Kundapur Potatoes. That was spicier and the blend of masalas gave off a nice aroma. Along with our starters we tried the Sol Kadi (which is not on the menu). It tasted like pink coloured (beetroot) spicy buttermilk with a strong taste of garlic and I loved it. You must try it when you go there.
For main course we tried the Ankur Special (vegetables in red gravy). Now this I loved and repeated for my second visit too. I liked that it had a sweetish taste and it was indeed very special. The Paneer Chaman dish I had was by far the most different paneer dish and I like it for that. There was methi in it, tasted sweetish and not like the typical Paneer Makhani or Paneer Tikka Masala. One dish I didn’t like much was the Veg Gassi (Mixed vegetables in coconut-based masaledar gravy). Now this is a typical Mangalorian dish that’s coconut based. I’m not a fan of coconut-based dishes and so, I didn’t like it much. Now, those who know me already know that Malai Kofta (Cashew-based sweet gravy) is my favourite dish whenever I go out to a place that serves Indian food and by default I must have it. At Ankur it was good but not the best I’ve had. For breads, we tried the Neer Tella (Dosa) which was really soft and nice and tasted great with the ‘Ankur Special’ but I preferred the Butter Kulcha with my sabjis. We were pretty stuffed after eating so much food but that didn’t stop us from trying a dessert. We decided to call for a Caramel Custard thinking it would be light. How wrong of us to assume! Haha! It was rich dense and full of caramel, hence super sweet.
Excerpts from my Non-vegetarian friends:
Fash- Great: The Kerala Prawns, cooked in a spicy, roughly chopped pepper and curry leaf base, the Fish Thekady – in our case, surmai – was very fresh with a distinct flavor due to it being cooked with a mixture of spices custom made at Ankur and unique to the restaurant. The Squid Kundapur and Ravas Kaalimiri were tasty as well; mop up the former with some neer tellas/dosas.
Karan- At any sea food restaurant you want to be sure that the fish used is freshly caught and not frozen. At Ankur they just do that. They use daily catch in their meals along with freshly ground spices and all done by hand.
Fish Thekdey made with Surmai- The Surmai fish was marinated in hand ground spices and cooked to perfection. Most of the time whenever I have called for a tawa fried fish, I get a fish soaked in Oil and it’s overcooked, but at Ankur the fish was perfect, the marination to the final cooking, perfect. The surmai was just delectable.
Squid Kundapur- this is Mangalore food at its best. What makes a difference is freshly caught squid; it was a joy to eat fresh squid with the signature Kundapur (Mangalorean) gravy.
Rawas Kalimiri- Kalimiri is fresh peppercorns ground into a paste to make the base of the dish, the peppercorns were ground to a rough paste giving the fish an added texture on the outside, it was a little spicy for my taste buds but the fresh fish made up for everything spicy. It was a joy to eat this dish.
Sol Kadi – The Ankur Sol Kadi was a little different than the normal Konkan sol kadi. They use beetroot add more pink, I personally did not like it that much as it had more shades of garlic and ginger. I definitely prefer the traditional sol kadi any day, but would recommend to try it for sure.
Kerela Prawns- Sweet and tender prawns with the kerela type gravy was just amazing and wholesome. Definitely try it if you are a fan of coconut based gravies.
To sum it up it was the best food I have had so far with a warm and cozy atmosphere to eat in.
Thank you so much for the really awesome lunch it was one of the best places I have had sea food at yet, Awesome company, best food, PERFECT!
Ambience- For those familiar with the Fort area, this place might be easy to find but otherwise it can be a little tricky to get there. So if you’re at Fountain, find Kandeel restaurant. Take that lane, go straight, turn left and take the right into M.P. Shetty Marg. You’ll see Ankur there welcoming you with lots of plants on the outside. When you walk in, you’ll find a dimly lit place. A little too dim for my liking if you plan to go for lunch but it gives you that warm, familiar, family restaurant type feel which I like. With comfortable seating arrangements, Ankur is a great place to go to with friends or family.
Service- Been to Ankur twice and both my experiences have been great! The service is prompt and you will be well taken care of. They will do their best to guide you and suggest dishes according to what you like.
Prices- The dishes at Ankur are priced very well. The Veg starters are all less than Rs. 250. The Kerala Prawns were for Rs. 320. Fish Thekady (Surmai) – Rs. 320, Ravas Kaalimiri was for Rs. 350. The Veg sabjis were all between Rs. 190 and 240 and so on. So basically you’re paying for your money’s worth. The quality and taste of the food will leave you completely satisfied with your dining experience at Ankur.
Verdict- It might be known for its non-veg food, sea food especially, but the vegetarian food too is top class. This is one of those places you would want to go to again and again for the love of food. Highly recommended!