Kolkata Q, T. Nagar, Chennai

Kolkata Q is housed in Hotel Ganga International, just off the Bazullah Road and Usman Road junction, at the foot of a flyover; the location isn’t great.  Heavy brass glasses give it a upmarket feel  but the plastic flowers more than moderate that impact. You can see the wash basins in the corner from most of the tables. But you are not here for the location or the ambience as this is not fine dining in Colaba or Connaught Place.

Now to the business end – the food. Kolkata Q is essentially a thali restaurant with some options to order a la carte. Vegetarian and non-vegatarian thali, both, come with dal, chorchori, posto, aloor dum, aloo-potol, aloo bhaja, begun bhaja  and loochi. The dal is tasty while curries have a home-made taste to them. Jhinge posto (ridged gourd in poppy seed paste) was nice and as was the chorchori (mixed vegetable), spices and oil, both used conservatively. Aloor dum (potato curry) and aloo-potol (potato and pointed gourd curry) were two curries with gravy. Onion and tomato based gravy with a sweet-tangy flavor went very well with loochi (pooris made with refined flour). I am not sure about the freshness of the potol/parwal but I know how difficult it is to find fresh potol in Chennai, so can’t blame the restaurant much. Begun bhaja was a bit a bland and less than warm when I had it but it could be a one-off. I also felt some of curries could have done with some more mustard oil as they lacked punch – maybe, having grown up on food cooked in mustard oil, I have greater fascination for its taste than most others would. The vegetarian thali had dhokar dalna (gram flour dumplings in a gravy) which received a nod of approval from my wife.

The non-vegetarian thali also included a single piece of machh bhaja (fried fish; katla, a fish similar to Rohu and from the Carp family), gurjali shorshe (a mackerel sized fish in mustard paste) and chicken kasa (chicken in onion-tomato gravy). On machh bhaja, my complaint is with the portion – one small piece in a thali made me want more and we ordered additional plates from the menu (which at Rs. 250 for two pieces isn’t cheap). Chicken kasa was the perfect foil for the loochi, but surprisingly, the mutton kasa, which I ordered a la carte, was a let down.  Mutton wasn’t tender and seemed to have been assembled with the gravy on order, a practice more common with Punjabi restaurants. They serve ilish (hilsa) as well, and claim to have the fish flown in from Kolkata every alternate day.

As I had the dal and rice with aloo bhaja (fried potato juliennes), I missed sweet chutney so integral to some of the Bengali meals I remember. To my surprise, the chutney came with the dessert course. Misti doi (sweet curd) was not overly sweet and like most curries here, had a home-made taste to it. In fact it was not even set in the bowl it was served in – something most Bengali restaurants do.  Gulab jamun was the other dish in the course.

For Rs. 300 for a vegetarian thali and Rs. 450 for a non-vegetarian thali, all inclusive, this is a real value for money meal. The Chef is from Bengal who was last purveying his wares in Singapore. Singapore’s loss is Chennai’s gain as it is a welcome addition to the Chennai food scene, that’s if you manage to reach this place.

Ed: Cover photo not from Kolkata Q.

Siddhartha Singh

a well travelled, enthusiastic foodie who doesn't suffer culinary fools. He has an overwhelming passion for food, be it a tasty morsel off a street side vendor or a gourmet creation from a Michelin starred restaurant. He blogs at Culinary Yatras