Anupam Family Restaurant Review
Manipal, as most of us student-folk know it, is the result of an amalgamation of numerous cultures etched into a rich tapestry that represents all of India. The things that define this wondrous place often stem from the different parts of the country that its students belong to. College kids are known for being famously and eternally homesick, and local businesses, capitalizing on the opportunity in demand-and-supply, have grown and developed in a way to cater to our homesickness.
But in our attempt to re-live life the way we’re used to back home, we so often miss out on actually living in Manipal – a place with its own cultural richness that’s been tempered by the confluence of so many varieties of native people living in the area. A major part of the indigenous experience of Manipal is the local cuisine of the area, and the one place that can truly claim to be the authority on (at least a subsection of) Mangalorean cuisine is the Anupam Family Restaurant.
Nestled snugly between Sizzler Ranch and Sultan, Anupam Family Restaurant has already established its dominance in the restaurant food chain (pardon the pun) in the Kundapura/Mangalore region – endowing visitors to the region with an authentic taste of a delicious combination of the cultures that make up Mangalore, and reminding the residents of the area just how spectacular their cuisine is.
The original restaurant was founded by the Late Thejappa Shetty, and his wife, who is credited with creating the Ghee Roast in 1957. The original recipe (with the perfect proportions of masalas) for that is still a secret that’s been handed down the generations within the family. The restaurant in Manipal is currently run by their grandchildren.
The very first thing that you’ll notice upon visiting this rather humbly located structure is that it opens to a direct view of the spotless kitchen, which was a fair indication of the culinary treat that lay ahead. The upper floor, which houses the actual restaurant, is reminiscent of the kind of warmth that one usually associates with the hospitality generally meted out to guests at a traditional Indian household – the presence of the cheerful and jovial managers and staff at Anupam add to this greatly. They specialize in the cuisine of their native people, which is the Bunt cuisine.
Their menu comprises a delectable choice of non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian options, ranging from the kebabs (both vegetarian and meat) that we all know and love for starters, to traditional Bunt dishes like the Chicken/Prawn Ghee Roast (the recipe for which they invented and popularized back in the 70s), and ending it off with desserts like the famed Gajar ka Halwa. The philosophy behind every one of their dishes is to replicate it the way it was originally meant to be prepared, using the exact same ingredients (or high fidelity versions of them) in place of using substitutes or ‘pseudos’ as is so often done in cooking.
To acquire a fair measure of Anupam’s cuisine, and to adequately sample the food over there (that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it), I visited the place no less than 8 times in the past three weeks alone, and tried wildly different combinations of their food. It would in no way be an exaggeration to state firmly that I was awestruck every single time by the level of detail that’s kept in mind while preparing each dish. It came as no surprise, therefore, to find out that every single item on the menu has been carefully curated and placed there only once the restaurant owners convinced themselves of its perfection (which also explains the relatively limited choice of food compared to the other restaurants in Manipal) – which means that literally everything on their menu is worth a taste, but here are the ones that I personally fell in love with at first bite –
Malai Tikka of any sort
Squid Butter Pepper Garlic
Every single dish with the words “Ghee Roast” in them, preferably with a serving of Neer Dosa
Veg/Chicken Biriyani (yes, those were two instances in which I tried them)
Stuffed Murgh Tikka (Although this may not be on the menu)
Gajar ka Halwa
To add to this, they’re always attempting to expand their horizons and experimenting with new dishes from other forms of cuisine. On my last visit, I was served something as pleasantly unexpected as cheese balls as an appetizer, and in an equally strange occurrence, a delicious serving of caramel pudding as dessert!
But I implore you to not take my word for it. The only way to truly appreciate this place, and by extension, Manipal in its true sense, is to go there and check it out for yourself.
Hop over to their Facebook page and say hi!
— Rahul Basu for MTTN
(Photographs courtesy of Nakul Shetty and Paul Nandadeep)