Disclaimer: The article has been sponsored by CoastAsia but in no way affects the authors’ review.
If you are looking for a cosy spot near campus where you can sit back and enjoy some authentic Asian food, you must most definitely visit CoastAsia in Manipal. Famous for their Indian cuisine and seafood, the restaurant is organising a food festival which goes on until the 20th of the month, it aims to enable you experience and relish Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian flavours.
The place oozes comfort and familiarity, with fairy lights decorating the walls, soft lighting and the hums of Hindi music welcoming you into the restaurant. Located opposite KMC, the restaurant is a stone’s throw away for most MAHE campuses and was bustling with students and families from Udupi, even on a quiet Tuesday evening.
The evening kicked off with a serving of Tom Yum soup, a Miso based soup that has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants. Although the soup was on the spicier side, it is fragrant and packed with flavours, making it a must try for those who can handle the heat. Although known for their seafood, the restaurant has a fantastic range of options for vegetarians as well! For vegetarian starters, we had Kung Pao potatoes and Vegetable Fritters. Although the potatoes were on the soggier side, the crispy fritters gave us something interesting to snack on as we waited for the main course.
The non-vegetarian starters were Chicken Satay-an Indonesian skewered dish and Crab Chilli. While the satay was nothing unfamiliar, with the peanut shining through, it was the crab which stole the show. A perfect balance between sweet and spicy, the crab was well cooked and was a highlight of the night. A must try for seafood lovers.
Pad Thai, flat rice noodles with vegetables started the second course of the meal. While the noodles did not have anything above your average Asian carbs, it was good noodles nonetheless. The real showstopper of the main course in the veg section was the Sayur Nangka, an Indonesian jackfruit curry. It’s something one must try and once you do you can’t help but have several helpings it. Sweet, with notes of red chili, lemongrass and ginger – it is a thick gravy with pieces of cooked jackfruit, a dish one rarely comes across! Malaysian burnt garlic rice was a treat to eat as well; the whole roasted garlic pieces make the rice stand out from the countless other kinds of fried rice one has to offer. The Yellow Thai Curry, with a coconut base and the turmeric shining all the way through, makes for an interesting gravy. Accompanying the incredibly extensive main course was the humble Malaysian Stir Fried Vegetable that was minimally flavoured to let the taste of the boiled veggies come through.
The non-vegetarian counterparts of the mains were chicken curry and a fish stew. The Reindang Chicken Curry had an overpowering flavour of coconut, with subtle hints of spice. For someone with a low spice tolerance, the coconut helps in cutting through the heat, making it a great choice to have with the noodles. Keeping in line with the seafood theme, Asam Pedas– a hot and sour fish stew was also served. Although a good choice to have with the Malaysian fried rice, the dish failed to stand out. At this point, the food started to feel a bit monotonous. While there is a decent amount of options to choose from, the flavours do seem to overlap. In spite of it being a buffet, choosing a lesser amount of dishes would help in appreciating and enjoying the flavours of the festival.
Nevertheless, the main course did end on a good note, leaving us ready for dessert.
The desserts were something we immensely enjoyed. This was primarily because both of the desserts did not have any overpowering flavours. A mild hint of this and subtle presence of that helped in concluding our meal more cohesively. The Sabudana Kichidi had a lacing of lychee around it, making it different from the dessert we are accustomed to. The fruit custard was beautifully arranged in shot glasses. It took us down memory lane as we felt that it was a creamier version of the five rupee raspberry ice-cream we grew up relishing. With a layer of fruit at the bottom, the fruit custard was a bowtie finish to the entire service.
Just as we were ending our meal, we were served with Nasi Goreng. This Indonesian classic looked extremely tempting, but it just felt uncanny to try it out after a very successful dessert run. We were sad to turn it down and would have liked to try it out.
For just the price of 299, one can immerse themselves in Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian flavours. The main idea behind this festival was to not only highlight the seafood CoastAsia is known for but to also give a push to the sidelined Thai dishes on their menu. Although the main course failed to stand out as prominently as the starters or the desserts, CoastAsia manages to hit their brief.
The turnout for this event has been excellent. This could be seen during our night out. Not only were there students but also families and groups of friends trying out the menu. The relaxing ambience CoastAsia offers plays an essential role in making it a good, satisfying meal.
The 299 spent on a buffet like this is definitely worth our while. Another interesting thing to note is that throughout the entire festival, three different menus will be served in rotation. Judging from the gastronomical journey, we embarked on; we can only expect excellent quality from the other menus as well.
We had a memorable time in CoastAsia with the relaxing interiors, great food and pleasant staff. With rotating menus as a surprise element and a bang of flavours from countries afar, the food festival is a great way to try out some authentic food without emptying your pockets! So the next time your week gets a little too overwhelming or you’re feeling like a celebratory dinner – head out to CoastAsia with your buddies for a culinary experience like no other.
Reviewed by Aarohi Sarma and Siri Rajanahally for MTTN