Oh Calcutta Express

May 28, 2006

I just posted about a 3.5/5 restaurant. Not the kind of stuff great weekends are made of. But this weekend was great because of a 5/5 place: Oh Calcutta Express!

Oh Calcutta Express is the smaller cousin of the Tardeo Oh Calcutta that has opened at Lokhandwala. I used to frequent the tardeo one about a year and half back. So when I heard about the Lokhandwala one, naturally I was keen to visit it. For one reason or the other, it never happened upto this weekend.

I was guided in menu selection by old friends Ritu and Pranob who hail from Calcutta. I am usually content to leave myself in the hands of Ritu who is expert at ordering. More on her expertise with Joey’s pizza in a later post.

Suffice it to say it was so good that I was back on Saturday evening for a second round. Surprisingly, I was welcomed with a very broad smile and comments of how good it was to see me again. I replied that it was only my second time. And I was told that they remember me from the Tardeo Oh Calcutta! I was left speechless. If a place remembers its patrons after a gap of one and half years, it speaks volumes about its service.

Oh calcutta express is smaller than its tardeo cousin and more cramped. I expected it to be noisy as a natural consequence but its not. Maybe because of the bhadralok who visit it! Service is polite and very quick.

One is served a aloo chanaa chaat as a complimentary appetiser. One can overdo it easily as its quite tasty and the folks at Oh Calcutta keep replenishing it! But then the order too arrives quickly and there is more to take the attention away.

On friday, we had some kebabs followed by Calcutta Biryani. All this was new to me as I’m used to ordering fish at Oh Calcutta. Pranob rightly commented that its a mistake to think that Bengali food is all about fish.

Its worthwhile to dwell a bit on the Biryani. There are around 80 kinds of Biryani in India according to some counts. There is a spectrum of spicier one (Hyderabadi biryani) to the lighter ones (Andhra Biryani!). The calcutta biryani redefined the lighter extreme for me. No masala but carefully selected spices. I also thought that I detected milks/khoa in it. Certainly a delicacy. I was intrigued by the presence of potato and the accompanying raita. These are there in the Hyderabadi biryani (probably the first biryani) for the change of taste from the very spicy to normal. But given how light the calcutta one is, I didn’t really the see the need for change of taste. Probably, its a level of subtlety that I could not appreciate.

One can’t really talk about bengali food without the sweet dishes. I had Misthi doi and it was just as expected. But the surprise was Rossogolla Payesh. I was too full on Friday to try more but on Saturday I had three helpings. Its one of the experiences which cannot be expressed fully in words. I know because I have tried doing so for last 10 mins before giving up!

Oh Calcutta express has the wow factor for almost every dish that I have tasted. Its a perfect 5 in my books. Now I have the only convince my team for a thali lunch (Rs 149 only!).

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