There was a time when there was one place we always used to go for sheek kababs and sheek rolls. We travelled several kilometers through heavy highway traffic to a little place in Richmond Town called Fanoos. We just couldn’t have enough of these delicious mouth-watering rolls and kababs even if it meant standing in a crowd waiting for 15-30 minutes each turn.
That was Hotel Fanoos in those days. It always saw a huge crowd and you had no problem standing in it waiting (and fighting) for sheek. Then, like any restaurant of fame, there came a period of decline. Quality and quantity suffered while prices increased. It stayed this way for a long time and I could not be bothered to try it out.
Recently, I heard from a friend who had been there that the place has improved. I put it back on my menu. The problem was the distance. I had moved about 10 kilometers in the opposite direction since I had last been to Fanoos and the added distance didn’t help make it easy to plan. That was until a family dinner was suddenly on cards and we decided to revisit Fanoos.
We drove up there from Bannerghatta Road, straight through Dairy Circle, then on Hosur Road finally arriving there. There is only very limited parking available on the street and that too is mostly filled up by two-wheelers. We found a parking spot on the main road and decided that most of us would have the dinner in the car while some of us would get the orders. Of course, I was one of the waiters.
My first impression was like, where has all the crowd gone? Used to always seeing a crowd of 20+ people waiting for their rolls, it came as a small shock that there were not more than 3 people. I mean, I knew it was not as popular as before but seeing it made a difference. Anyway, I went and placed the first round of orders. I noticed, pleasantly, of course, that the prices were reasonable; I was expecting way more. In the end, it worked out to an average of about Rs. 120 per person. We each had at least two rolls each, some soft-drinks and lots of sheek kabab. We had chicken rolls, sheek (jumbo, mumbo) rolls, mutton rolls, shavarma rolls and kababs, of course.
The best item on the menu is still sheek kabab, costing at about Rs. 16, I think. You can’t stop having them. If you want something more filling, you can get the sheek roll. Over time, I have found that the simple sheek roll is much too dry for me. I always go for the sheek jumbo roll which balances sheek and roti quite nicely. For the sake of it, I tried a sheek mumbo roll too but found it to be a mistake, but that was mainly because I ordered it last when I was almost full.
The chicken rolls are still okay and you can have to taste. I didn’t have a good experience with mutton roll, though. It was very bland and leathery and I finished it with great difficulty. Shavarma rolls were just okay too.
My first order was very quick and I got the rolls almost immediately. I was not so lucky afterwards. In fact, for my second or third order I had to wait the traditional 15 minutes because of a large order of mutton rolls. The shouting and pushing crowd reminded me of old times. But this happened only once and very soon, the orders were met and the crowd dispersed.
All in all, it was a moderate experience and I am not so excited about visiting it again. Even though this is one of the few places in Bangalore where sheek kabab tastes good, I simply can’t stand the distance, the lack of variety and sidewalk ambiance for it. Hotel Fanoos has changed from the place to just another place to have sheek rolls.