Returning Home with My Tastebuds
After living overseas for three decades, my feet brought me back to my heartland – India, and Bangalore in particular. Living across three different continents exposed me to a multitude of cultures, so returning to Bangalore opened the door to a new level of exploration – that of the land of my forefathers. Of course, all the traveling across the city and the visits to the various sites rendered me hungry enough to eat a horse (not that I would. Really.). The burning question every time was this: Where do I eat? Where do I go to satisfy my palate with delights of (g)astronomical proportions?
Here I list five of my favorite places to dine. It was difficult to narrow these down to a small number, but these were responsible for activating my otherwise unknown fifth taste. Since Bangalore is a cosmopolitan city catering to diners from across the nation, no, across the world, I feel it would be fair that I widen the spectrum a bit.
Hotel Janardhan, Race Course Road
Whether you are on the lookout for a 100-rupee thali or a dozen benne dosais, Hotel Janardhan presents itself as an underrated yet lovely little example of an old-fashioned ‘hotel.’ I brought a guest from Calcutta with me, and it was a pleasure noticing her joy while she sampled the thali. Who knew this simple combination of chapattis, sagu, tavve, rasam and rice would incur such joy! On another occasion, I was told by a cousin that Janardhan has the best benne dosais in Bangalore, better than even CTR. Now, I haven’t dined at CTR as yet (shock and horror!) but I ask my readers who have done so to give the benne dosai here a shot and let me know!
Hotel Nalapaka, Near Navrang, Rajajinagar
Jolada (Jowar) Rotti meals are an amazing way to introduce yourself to the delights of North Karnataka. Nalapaka does a tremendous job of bringing exquisite delights such as Biranji, Girmitt, Holige, and this amazing eggplant dish (I will find out its name one day, that will be my Everest). Speaking of Holige, the Monday afternoon Holige meals are a great way to kick start a work week!
Portland Steakhouse and Café, Brunton Road
The one time I visited here was on the eve of my birthday, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to bring in my new year. I am a steak man, and I love my steak rare without even a hint of medium. I was apprehensive about ordering a rare steak anywhere in Bangalore, but I took a chance with Portland, and they did not disappoint! The chefs at Portland know their steaks and the care that goes into sizzling them on a skillet. I had a juicy 300 g New York Strip, and I rate it highly among all the steaks I’ve had in the Eastern Hemisphere.
District 6 – Pub, Brewery and Kitchen, Malleshwaram
Great location without outside interference, great beer, great prices. After a long day of pantaloon shopping followed by that six hour long movie next door at the Orion Mall, hop on over to District 6 for a pint of their in-house stout – by far my favorite – and do not forget to order the one thing that’s seldom ordered there: the wicked Dhaba Gosht and Naan. I’ll state this out loud – this is the best mutton curry I have ever tasted. Better than the one I make (I’ll have you know I make a pretty mean mutton curry. Just visit me.).
Egg Gowda, near MES College, Malleshwaram
Do not look for this place online, you will not find it. This place stole my heart the moment I had a spoon of their simple offerings. A little cart right next to the bustling MES College, Egg Gowda (as I believe the cart is called, presumably named after the proprietor) is a great place to be for your 6 p.m. snack fix. The ever-ready egg rice is a favorite among regulars. For Rs. 70, I request them to mix the egg rice with their famed egg masala on the hot wok, and lo! The snack that makes me the happiest man on earth is ready.
So there you have it, Friends, Romans (Hey, I’m trying to be inclusive here) and Countrymen, these are my favorite places to be. If you see me anywhere here, stop by and say hi, or better still – pull up a chair and join me. Unless you’re at Egg Gowda. In which case, you may need to stand by me.
Nikhil Vasuki is a healthcare consultant by day and snack food developer by night. He moved to India in 2014 and has been roaming the streets of Bangalore in search of the best bisibele bhaath, kebabs, biryani, steak, obbattu and many more culinary offerings this city has to offer.