1st Floor, Hong Kong Bazar, Sector 57, Sushant Lok 2, Gurgaon
Phone: 0124 4220435, 0124 4220436
Timing: 11am – 11pm
I owe my friend one; the one who told me about this new Bengali restaurant at Hong Kong Bazaar on Gold Souk Road – way past Ardee City.
Lokenath 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 with a job at the very bottom of the culinary food chain, at the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata. He soon endeared himself to the Bengali chefs, who taught him how to cook. From there, to owning an eatery-cum-lodge in Paharganj, to this restaurant, has been a long and arduous journey – one that he is quite proud of.
It is this pride that animates him as he discusses the food: he handpicks his fish, sources all the masalas personally, uses only Kolkata mustard oil, and keeps his recipes true to tradition. Convinced, I ask Goutam to give me a meal of his choosing, of authentic Bangla raanna (cooking).
I start with the quintessential Kolkata snack, the fish chop (Rs. 130). This one is made without potatoes. What it has is 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 line are the vegetarian dishes. The ghughni (Rs. 40), made of chickpeas, is perfectly spiced. Aloo phool kophi (Rs. 70) has crunchy fried cauliflower and potatoes, cooked beautifully with traditional spices. Moog 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 gives 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 perfect sweet dish – from a wide choice. 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. That is what gives it a unique sweetness. Chef Goutam buys it at the source. The result, with its earthy undertones, melts in my mouth.
Everything about Lokenath restaurant is authentic and realistic – including the prices. Here is an eatery I will be going back to often.