I owe my friend one; the one who told me about this new Bengali restaurant that has recently opened at Hong Kong Bazaar on Gold Souk Road, way past Ardee City. Because when I land up there for my fix of some authentic Bangla ranna (cooking), I am far from disappointed.
Loknath restaurant is a humble-looking eatery, but, as I am soon to find out, with many gastronomic surprises. I am welcomed at the door by owner-and-chef Goutam Nayak. In the true adda tradition we get talking and soon he is recounting his fascinating life’s tale. He started at the very bottom of the culinary food chain, washing utensils at the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata where he soon endeared himself to the Bengali chefs who called him Chhotu and taught him how to cook. From there to owning an eatery cum lodge in Paharganj to this restaurant, it has been a long and arduous journey for Goutam—and one that he is quite proud of.
A pride that animates him as he discusses the food he serves at Loknath: he handpicks his fish, sources all the masalas personally, uses mustard oil only from Kolkata, and keeps his recipies true to tradition. Convinced, I ask Goutam to give me a meal of his choosing. And the goodies start arriving.
I start with the quintessential Kolkata snack, the fish chop (Rs 130); it is an epiphany of sorts. Unlike other lesser fish chops, this one is made without potatoes. What it has is daisy fresh bhetki fish chopped to chunky perfection. As I sink my knife into it, I can see the fresh juices oozing out, and every bite leads to a flaky fresh taste sensation in the mouth. This is a good dish indeed.
Next in the line are the vegetarian dishes. The ghughni (Rs 40), made of chickpeas, is perfectly spiced. Alu phool kophi (Rs 70) has crunchy fried cauliflower and potatoes cooked beautifully with traditional spices. Mug dal (Rs 50) is comforting and wholesome as it should be.
The main course starts off with katla posto (Rs 105) and bhaath (rice). The combination of ground poppy seeds and cashews give the curry a well- rounded character, and the fresh and large cuts of katla fish make it a fulfilling experience. Kosha mangsho (Rs 200) that follows is a meaty delight. The Kolkata chicken biryani with raita (Rs 100) is authentic, and a value for money dish.
A true Bengali meal has to have the sweet dishes giving the high note at the end, and so I order the kacha golla (Rs 15), made with nolen gur. This type of jaggery is difficult to source because it is made from a quality of sap that can only be collected from date trees in the foggy, cold season which gives it a unique sweetness. Chef Goutam buys it at the source. The result, with its earthy undertones, is melting in my mouth.
Everything about Loknath restaurant is real, including the prices. Here is an eatery I will be going back to often for my Bangla food fix.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 3.0 | Service: 3.0 |Overall: 3.5
Meal for Two: Rs 600 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Address: 1st Floor, Hong Kong Bazar, Sector 57, Sushant Lok 2, Gurgaon | Phone: 0124- 4220435/ 4220436
This review first appeared in Friday Gurgaon
– Aalok Wadhwa