Friday 19 February 2016

An Afternoon of 'no worries' @ Hakuna Matata

If you are someone who has grown up through the early 90's, the words Hakuna Matata (A Swahili phrase which roughly translates to 'No Worries') will instantly transport you to the memories of the movie 'The Lion King' and chances are that you will be humming the song to yourself 
'Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata, ain't no passing craze....'

With many restaurants cropping up in each corner of the city, Hakuna Matata grabs your attention with its catchy name and location which is bang opposite Kwality on Park street. Park street is known for its old world charm and has patrons who swear by the food from eateries that have been there since a long long time.
An invite to HM was long due and so finally me and Sayantani decided to cover it up and landed there on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. We met with the cordial owners Pallavi and Prabhas who took us through the journey of setting up Hakuna Matata. A husband wife duo, both are passionate travellers and foodies and have been so far successful in running a complete vegetarian casual dining place in the heart of Park street which serves global fusion food. 
Pallavi tells us that they like to constantly engage their customers in contests and activities online and offline. Their mascot 'Koko' was also named through a contest. From having customers blow a shankh(conch) during Puja's to having a dance group perform and entertain customers, Hakuna Matata believes in engaging people interest with activities. 
Prabhas enlightens us with the decor which is a mix of modern and old. The hanging installation of rock climbers to the wooden borders with threads that we see on olden day sofas are all done by engaging local craftsmen. A quirky hanging light installation is done by using Graters. There is an interesting wish tree on ground floor which as Pallavi tells us has become synonymous to Hakuna Matata as people stick their wishes believing them to come true. They have even had customers whose wishes came true and so the wish tree is a popular corner in their restaurant. 
Hakuna Matata will soon be starting their cocktails section and so a bar with stools is all ready for the launch. They have also started their Sunday breakfast menu which consists of juices, hot beverages, sandwiches etc and an innovative desi and videsi tiffin where combo meals are served in old time tiffin carriers (dabba's). 
Hakuna Matata also has a special Jain menu with special dishes with no onion or garlic. 
They have a 'make your own Pizza' menu where diners can choose from the options of base, sauces and toppings. 
Each dish has a calorie count which give diners options to indulge according to their liking. Also there are chef favourites, healthy and vegan options in the menu. 
They also have special menu's on each occasion. So there was a Puja's special menu where they had bengali dishes and for Valentine's their menu had love themed dishes.
After an hour long chit chat we met Chef Chanchal who had planned a set of four dishes for us and in the lovely company of both Prabhas and Pallavi we indulged in a gastronomic journey to be remembered for a long time.

The first dish to arrive on our table looked no less than a piece of art. Chef Chanchal introduced us to it as Warm Chinese Casserole salad with szechuan and soya sauce. We learnt that this recipe is Pallavi's and we truly feasted on the visually appealing dish of cascading fried noodles standing on a bed of vegetables. The sauce added to the simple flavours of the dish. 

Next to arrive was a rather deceiving dish called Chocolate infused Falafel. Frankly speaking I thought weird about the dish and wondered if it was a forceful fusion. This dish was a special on their Valentine's menu and Chef Chanchal informs us that he incorporated chocolate in the falafel mixture along with the middle eastern spices and stuffed each Falafel ball with chocolate. It came with a dollop of Beetroot hummus and on  a bed of couscous salad. Personally for me that was the dish of the day. The beautiful coalition of the savoury falafel with chocolate was too beautiful for words. I really hope this dish finds a place in their regular menu very soon. 

On our tables, soon arrived another beautiful presented dish called Polenta stuffed baked mushroom which was also Pallavi's favourite dish on the menu. The dish was served Caprese style with the baked mushroom placed on a slice of Tomato and with a drizzle of the herbed cheese dip. The wooden platter had a dusting of the green-ed breadcrumbs which chef Chanchal tells us is made with a variety of herbs treated with breadcrumbs.

The last dish was the very interesting concept called Indian inspired mezze platter which had portions of Baingan Bharta inspired from Baba Ganoush, Chana masala flavoured hummus, Dal pakoda, mixed vegetable raita with kachumbar salad and laccha parantha strips inspired from Pita bread. Each element of the dish was flavoursome and wonderful. 

Pallavi ordered a Matata cooler and a Mojito for us and I truly thank her for introducing esp the Matata cooler to us. Adorned with a heart shaped watermelon chunk and a sprig of mint leaf and  served in a chemistry lab like round bottomed flask, it was like a breath of fresh air with a concoction of watermelon juice and coconut water. This is definitely a must if you are visiting HM.

The portions served in each dish were pretty good and the quality of food and presentation of each dish was impeccable. 
I would like to thank team Hakuna Matata for giving us an afternoon of lovely food and wonderful company.

Address : 12D, Park Street, Park Street Area, Kolkata

Call for reservations : 033 30990403

Timings : Mon- Sat -12 noon to 11 pm 
              Sun - 7 am to 11 pm

Cost : Rs 800 for two (approx)

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