So having spent one full year in Mangalore I had the opportunity to taste the finest and the most authentic coastal delicacies here. However, there are two places that stood above the rest, especially when it came to fish and meals: Giri Manja’s and Machali. These places are so awesome that I had a hard time deciding which one was better. So I decided to break it down to a few basic criteria like ambience, food, cost and service. So here is my review (more like comparison) of the two places:
AMBIENCE AND LOCATION – Judging the ambience totally depends on the customer. Giri Manja’s is quite homely (it is literally inside a house) and Machali is a proper open air restaurant. I prefer homely ambience since it adds to the authenticity but having loads of customers inside a house can be a little cramped during peak hours. I would rate Giri Manja’s over Machali when it comes to ambience. But Machali is a lot easier to locate than Giri Manja’s. Machali is just behind Ocean Pearl near PVS circle. Giri Manja’s, however, is very complicated to locate. It is best to use Google Maps to locate it or just go to Car Street and ask for directions. RESULT: Tie.
FOOD – Ever since I landed in the coastal region 6 years ago I have been hogging on various types of fish and other kinds of seafood. But the past one year in Mangalore was easily the best when it came to seafood. I tried the same dishes at Machali and Giri Manja’s – Anjal Tawa masala, Prawn fry and boiled rice meal with buttermilk. So my judgement is solely based in these dishes. It is very difficult to tell which fish was better since both the places provide excellent Anjal masala. My boss, who used to avoid fish, now refuses to go to any place other than Machali for lunch. The aroma itself would be so promising that you would know what to expect. According to me, the fish is equally good at both places. The prawn fry is clearly better in Giri Manja’s. It is served with chillies which makes it even better. The meal is the same at both places but I felt that the servings were larger in Giri Manja’s as compared to Machali. It also provides an extra sweet chutney which is not there in the Machali meal. The buttermilk at Giri Manja’s is ordinary and Machali’s is much better. RESULT: Tie when it comes to fish. Giri Manja’s is better overall.
COST AND SERVICE The cost usually depends upon the size of the fish. On some days Machali actually provides an option for a small/large Anjal. But I guess Giri Manja’s is a tad bit cheaper than Machali because of it’s location. Everything I mentioned above would approximately cost about Rs. 350-400, which is quite cheap and affordable considering the quality of the food. The service however was clearly better at Giri Manja’s. The waiters at Machali are in a hurry because of the rush but in Giri Manja’s the waiter would suggest a few specials and would be attentive in case you need something during the course of your meal. RESULT: Giri Manja’s is cheaper and has better service.
So that decides it I guess. If you are in Mangalore and love fish go to Giri Manjas. If you don’t want to get lost in the interiors go to Machali but be prepared for the rush. I would also like to mention Narayana’s in Bunder. That place provides excellent fish but it wasn’t very hygienic. Meanwhile, I will continue to find more places and keep trying other kinds of seafood. Till then, eat healthy and bon appetit.