Ankur – The Coastal Bistro is one of the oldest restaurants in south Mumbai, it has been serving delicious authentic coastal food since 1941.
Joash and I love Mangalorean food. So when Gaurish told us about his association with Ankur, we knew we had to visit the place. Owned by Devdas Alva and now in partnership with Gaurish Rangnekar, this restaurant has its simplicity and honesty that made it warm and cozy. Gaurish’s flamboyance and expertise in the Bar section certainly gave this place a lift with regards to giving it a Bistro feel and a fancier bar menu.
Gaurish started The Den in Bandra and Vicinia Café-Bar at Kemps Corner – a certified mixologist from New York Bartending School and Cape Wine Academy. You can be rest assured that you will find the best of premium spirits, beers, and imported wines with unusual one-of-a-kind signature cocktail concoctions when he is in charge!
We entered the restaurant and were kind of lost as we didn’t have anyone greeting us. There was a television set that all the waiters were glued to… probably watching cricket. Soon the manager noticed us and showed us our way to a table. The interiors looked like an old tavern, very rustic with a chandelier that hung from the ceiling. A lot can be changed about the décor because it still looked like a south Indian restaurant trying too hard to fit in, probably in an attempt to keep the old school charm intact.
And now, let’s talk about the food!
We asked the Manager to recommend their best dishes and decided to try them out with Neer Dosa. We had heard that Ankur has interesting combos and an impressive list of thalis but we chose to go a-la-carte. I decided to have Sol Kadi, which was served chilled, perfectly seasoned and refreshing. By the way, that’s one of our must haves’ whenever we dine at a Mangalorean restaurant. The waiter brought the usual condiments to our table with two bowls of chutney – spicy red chutney and mint chutney. Yummy! We totally loved having it with our food.
The first dish we had was Kerala Prawns –cooked in onion with herbs and spiced with peppercorns. This took me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Kerala. Being prawn fans, it was an absolute treat for both of us. Fresh flavours of the sea laced with herbs and peppercorns added that extra punch. It was made in coconut oil with lots of curry leaves which made it delicious and authentic to taste. However we were disappointed with the portion and the way it was presented. Had it been served with a side of salad or on banana leaf with some garnish, it would’ve looked appealing. It is said, “We eat with our eyes first” and it sort of made me cringe to see how a gorgeous dish like this was so poorly dressed. 10/10 on taste though.
Then we had Prawns Karawali. True to its name, the dish is packed with everything Konkan. Well spiced, sour and salivating, the prawns were beautifully cooked in the bright red curry which went so well with the neer dosas. It was our favourite on the menu. Another 10/10.
We also had the Fish Thekady. Lovely fish steak marinated in aromatic ginger and garlic, spiced with red chili paste. The fish was beautifully cooked and well marinated, just loved it.
Then, Gaurish recommended Chicken Kundapur – chunks of chicken cooked in a rich fiery hot red sauce. Kundapur being a coastal town in Karnataka is famous for its spice blend called the Kundapur Masala. With dried Bedgi chillies dominating this blend, the mix of coriander, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds and garlic simply makes this irresistible to those who love cooked meat in robust and spicy sauce. It was a bit spicy for Joash but I loved every bit of it.
For dessert we had Yanni with ice cream and Malai Kulfi, we wanted to try something new rather than go with the run of the mill desserts. Yanni is a greek dessert, very much like Baklava. It was drizzled with honey and served with ice-cream. Rich and delicious.
I love how this place takes us through different regions in the south through its authentic food. Every single dish has its own story to tell, distinguished by its own different blend of spices and way it’s prepared, yet keeping in tandem with the appeal of the restaurant. I loved that I was able to take Joash through the culinary tour down south with Ankur. We would definitely like to stop by again to try other dishes. With an array of different dishes in seafood, Ankur also boasts of delectable chicken, mutton and paneer dishes.
We were a bit disappointed with the service though, the waiters at Ankur need to ensure that the guests are well taken care of. A smile goes a long way. The dishes were overpriced for the quantity served however it gets full marks for the taste and authenticity.
With approximately Rs 850/- for two, Ankur is truly a slice of Mangalore in Mumbai.
Don’t forget to try their signature cocktails and I would recommend all four of them – Tamarind Martini, Kokum Margarita, Cucumber Cooler and Basil Colada. Now where would you find such crazy concoctions that bring a smile to your face.