Monday, June 29, 2015

Hotel Casuarina - A Seafood Haven on NH66

We were on a road trip to Sirsi in May to attend a family function. Engaging Dolphy D'Souza's taxi cab, our plans were to start slightly late in the morning at about 10:00 and reach Honnavar by 1:00pm and have our lunch there. My classmate cum friend Manjeshwar Madhav Bhat is settled in Honnavar and he knew a place where we get fresh and hygienic seafood preparations. Some months earlier, my niece Seema D Shenoy from Puttur and her family had dined there and she being a foodie and a good cook herself, appreciated their food very much. Ever since, I always wanted to visit that restaurant and check out their preparations.
It is just by the side of old Padukani causeway bridge
That's the garden ambiance
Deepak setting up the table for 5
Madhav Bhat inspects the table
Padukani bridge and the old causeway
So we were there little after 1:00pm and Madhava lead us there, a vast garden setup adjacent to Padukani(Badagani) bridge past Haldipur, about 10 Kms or almost half way between Honnavar and Kumta. It was near Kasarakod until some months ago, but has been recently shifted to the present place, said my friend. It was named 'Hotel Casuarina' by the owner ND Bhat, when it functioned at Kasarakod amidst casuarina trees. It was ND Bhat's ambition to serve the travellers with the goodies of Uttara Kannada at affordable prices. The location is exactly half way between Mangaluru and Panaji and also Managluru and Hubballi, making it a convenient place to dine at mid day or in the evening for those travelling between said places.

The place looked serene and cozy perched amidst giant acacia trees, with permanent and make shift canopies in the garden that provided shelter for diners. They have maintained it meticulously clean as well. There are wash rooms for ladies and gents to get refreshed after a long and tiring journey. We were greeted with a smile by two friendly hosts by name Sudanshu and Deepak, who attended to our table. Madhav knew them personally and had informed them over phone about our visit, so they readily understood what we want. 

Madhava Bhat ordered three starters, Prawn Sukkha, Belanji(Bollanjir in Tulu, Motiyale in Konkani) and Surmai Rava Fried along with regular fish thaali. Their menu had many items including chicken preparations. Shubha, Madhav's wife told us that their chicken items are lip smacking good! They also have bottled cold water and a wide range of cool drinks but we settled for cold and warm water.

Very soon, there were plates full of fresh seafood treat on our table, hot and inviting! We gorged into them one by one, while the boys brought the thaalis  shining like mirror, and we continued gobbling up the steaming white rice with the hot and tangy fish curry and the side dishes. Each item was fresh and clean, not as spicy as we get them in Mangaluru, but certainly tasty and aromatic.
Belanji Rava Fried
King Fish Rava Fried and Prawn Sukkha
Fish Thaali
That's a lovely King Fish Rava Fried
Bill itself is the proof for reasonable pricing!
Author with Deepak and Sudanshu
Prawn Sukkha is different than Tuluva style preparation. It is more sticky with lots of onions, garlic, chillies and turmeric but has less added coconut, rather just a garnish of freshly grated coconut. Belanji fried was crisp and hot, well marinated with a rather bland masala and it had right amount of salt in it. Surmai rava fried was the item of the day, fresh thick and big steaks of King Fish marinated with a spicy tangy masala,  rolled in rava and fried to perfection. Each bite tasted like a piece of savoury cake and literally melted in the mouth! 

Their fish thaali contains a bowl of white rice, a bowl with full mackerel curry, a small bowl full of vegetable fry and that day it was cabbage pallya. A fried fish such as Mackerel or Sardine and a pickle is also served along with the thaali. The fish curry rice was good, but fish curry was slightly bland and the gravy was too thin. That's how a Uttara Kannada fish curry(Meen Saaru) is normally prepared, for I have dined at some sea food restaurants in Bengaluru, Karwar and Honavar in the past run by Uttara Kannadigas and found similar preparations. 

Fried fish and other special seafood preparations are priced seasonally as per prevailing rates. With two bottles of water, two plates each of starter dishes and four fish thaalis, our bill summed up to Rs.1270/- for 5 persons and it was worth every rupee, I must confess.

Try this place, if you are on a road trip to Goa or Mumbai. Family will love the surrounds with Badagani(Padukani) River flowing by the side, kids will love playing in the garden and men can just laze around watching the bustling highway traffic crossing the Padukani bridge, or even enjoying the whiff of fresh wind in the shade of mammoth acacia trees.

Hotel Casuarina
Near Go Green Homestay
Padukani(Badagani) Bridge
Haldipur - 581327
Uttara Kannada District

Contact No: 
ND Bhat - 9449441990

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