Stupefying Lunch at Hakuna Matata

By: Rajdeep Bhattacharjee

November 16, 2015

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After all that hard work shopping in nearby markets and malls, don’t flush your efforts down the drain and spend your calories on fatty food. Instead, head over to Park Street and eat your way to a healthier you. Hakuna Matata situated right across the Oxford Book Store and allows you to enjoy a hard-earned respite.

 

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Say aloha to the food trend that is sweeping all across the world — vegetarian food. Not all healthy vegetarian foods are green, mean and downright tasteless. Hakuna Matata believes that there’s no need to compromise on the quality or flavour of your food when it comes to treating your body well. After all, green is the new black.

 

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Step into this urban looking bistro, complete with beautifully crafted graffiti and illustrations of their mascot ‘KoKo’ adorning the walls. Bright light and yellowish wall make this place look brighter. Sitting arrangements are comfortable enough. All you Instagrammers will love the beautiful ‘Wish Tree’ and innovative ‘Hanging Statues’.

 

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Allow their knowledgeable, warm staff to take you through the unique but not so difficult-to-define menu, which focuses on traditional techniques such as salting, curing, brining and grilling. Leave all preconceptions at the door, almost nothing you get will be what you expect! Hakuna Matata stands for more than just food. It endeavors to provide a whole new culinary experience to people, with a pinch of adventure and a dash of fun.

 

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We started off with Quinoa Rocket Salad and Warm Chinese Casserole Salad accompanied with six mocktails Orange Mojito, Virgin Mojito, Guava Mary, Matata Cooler, Spicy Twist and Apple Cinnamon.

 

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For a satisfying veggie start up, we dig into their Quinoa Rocket Salad, organic rocket leaves with a gratifying crunch, served with quinoa, zucchini, assorted vegetable with cucumber and sprinkled olive, olive oil and tomato, best paired with the pomegranate yoghurt dips. Alternatively, the Warm Chinese Casserole Salad boats clean flavours, with skillfully garnished by fried noodles accompanied with Szechuan sauce. Of the dips, the pomegranate yoghurt and the Szechuan sauce were simply irresistible. Extremely appetizing and healthy salads, the show-stoppers of both salads were its fresh ingredients.

 

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In mocktails I especially liked to mention Orange Mojito, Guava Mary, Matata Cooler, Spicy Twist and Apple Cinnamon. Virgin Mojito’s taste was also awesome but it’s too common to talk about. Matata Cooler was heart pleasing – a blend of watermelon, coconut water and mint leaves that works as a perfect detox drink. Guava Mary was a mixture of Guava juice and special Hakuna Matata seasoning mix, definitely reboot your palate. Spicy Twist was another crowd pleaser – pineapple juice mixed with Hakuna Matata’s magical drink. Apple Cinnamon was perfectly blended and it’s a natural detox drink to boost your metabolism. Orange Mojito was one more perfect drink which will play tricks with your tongue, made with fresh muddled oranges, lime and mint; it will protect you against premature ageing. These energizing, healthy mocktails were great accompany for a mid-day lunch, or alternatively,

 

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For mains, we tried Polenta Stuffed Baked Mushroom, Crispy Feuille Papdi, Rice Paper Wraps, Pizza and Indian Inspired Mezze Platter.

 

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For a satisfying vegetarian option, dig into their Polenta Stuffed Baked Mushroom, use of magical herbs gave this dish a gratifying twist, served on top of sliced tomato and finely baked mushrooms filled with polenta and sprinkled with olive oil best paired with finely prepared herb & cheese dip. Certainly try out their polenta stuffed baked mushroom as their Polenta had a really creamy texture, an exceptionally luscious dish that imparts a ton of flavour without being heavy.

 

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Alternatively, the Crispy Feuille Papdi boosts clean flavours, with skillfully prepared crispy feuille papdi, layered with tender cilantro potato, a refreshing mix of salad, curd, bhjia and a hint of flavourful tamarind glaze topped with cherry tomato. The Crispy Feuille Papdi was another must-order you should share; this dish will stimulate your palate sense, and you will felt you are right into the ocean of flavours.

 

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If a straightforward bland Rice Paper Wraps is what you’re after, the tasty, classic Hakuna Matata’s Rice Paper Wraps slathered with coriander aioli on pan sauté vegetables in ginger is sure to satisfy. Grab the veg mayonnaise for dipping that lovely rice paper wraps in. Wash it all down with Matata Cooler freshly pressed watermelon juice with coconut water from Hakuna Matata.

 

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Though Hakuna Matata is not famous for Pizza but I found, seemingly envelope the toppings, the paper sheet pizzas here were all about that skinny, perfect crust. Yet somehow, its center was more thin and topped with fresh, high quality ingredients and if you like traditional or fusion toppings, you’re at the right place. Go with a hearty appetite because you won’t want to miss their tomato and basil Pizza. You can be sure that these pizzas will hit the spot without burning holes in your pockets, saving you some cash to spend on some excellent healthy mocktails.

 

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Middle Eastern Mezze Platter got the perfect Indian touch at Hakuna Matata. Indian Inspired Mezze Platter was the most value-for-money item on the menu; it could be served as an appetizer, as well as it could be as satisfying as lunch or dinner. Considering the generous bits and bites it’s a one order finish your meal kind of dish. It comes with Began Bharta, Dal Pokora, Chana Masala, Humus, Mix Vegetables, Raita, Cucumber Salad & Desi Lachha! The Chana Masala with Humus and Desi Lachha was extremely tasty and flavourful, with fresh, slightly charred Began Bharta adorning the dish.

 

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For Desserts we had Mojito Cheese cake, Koko Lava cake and Three Layered Mousse Cake.

 

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Mojito Cheese cake – enjoy the toothsome contrast between the oozing savory mascarpone cheese with mint flavor and sweetness of muscovado sugar & almond served along with a small cup of virgin Mojito as palate cleanser. Coupled with Hakuna Matata’s solid line-up of tapas, this luscious signature dessert was impossible to resist. It’s paired with the freshly made virgin Mojito (a match made in heaven) that’s refreshing and light on the palate, brilliant in keeping this dessert from being too heavy and monotonous. So sinful, yet so comforting and satisfying.

 

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This saliva-inducing dessert had become synonymous with this place’s ambiance and even after seeing it again and again everywhere on social media, it still never fails to tempt even the most regular of diners. The food here was splendid, but the dish that really takes the cake (ha!) was the Koko Lava Cake. It’s simple, really. Think lush warm Lava cake smothered from the inside with gooey, rich, melted chocolate that bleeds out of its cake mould at the very first incision. This one’s truly a feast for the eyes and stomach, so get those cameras ready. This place screams date night!

 

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Hakuna Matata also whips up stunning desserts like Three Layered Mousse, which you should most certainly end your meal with. It was a trio of Vanilla, Chocolate and Coffee combined in a delectable mousse. Sure to please those who have a thing for mousse and leave you wanting more. Three Layered Mousse Cake was light and refreshing – the perfect finale to a wonderful meal.

 

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Hakuna Matata also serves savory breakfast in their set breakfast menu such as their Desi and Videsi Tiffin. Best part is, Hakuna Matata opens seven days a week. With a reasonable price point, this is a great choice for a breakfast / lunch / dinner with friends or colleagues, or a Sunday night family meal! There’s no better place to bring your favourite friend or that special someone who loves fusion food. Finish up with an immaculate Koko Lava Cake. Don’t even ask why. You and your date will be all smiles when you leave.

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About Rajdeep Bhattacharjee

A ravenous eater, a thirsty drinker, an enthusiastic traveller and a very sound sleeper – once a wannabe hacker and now a Government employee, is an aspiring food critic and travel blogger. He hates the loose use of the word ‘foodie’ and prefers, instead, the expression ‘food devotee’. For him, good food and honest people are the biggest motivators.

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1915940_101100699948573_1759232_nRajdeep Bhattacharjee wears many feathers in his cap. A ravenous eater, a thirsty drinker, an enthusiastic traveller and a very sound sleeper – Rajdeep, once a wannabe hacker and now a Government employee, is an aspiring food critic and travel blogger. He hates the loose use of the word 'foodie' and prefers, instead, the expression 'food devotee'. For him, good food and honest people are the biggest motivators.

He is the founder of Gourmets Travel Guide, a website devoted completely to food and travel. Rajdeep is an avid blogger and one can find many of his sojourns aptly expressed on the website www.gourmetstravelguide.com.

Rajdeep had been recently chosen by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to board the inaugural flight from Kolkata to Bangkok (TG – 336) and received accolades for wonderfully recounting the experience, from start to finish, in his blog. In fact, his travelogue was featured in Hangla Hneshel, one of India's foremost Bengali magazine dedicated completely to food and travel. Rajdeep doesn't stop there! One of his undersea walks also got featured in The Telegraph, one of India's leading dailies. He is also one of the chief curators and a selector for chefs and restaurants for Channel One's Resto Ranna episodes.

Zomato ranks Rajdeep among the top ten food connoisseurs in the city. He has also been ranked number 5 and 6, in this year's Network 18 and Burrp surveys respectively, as one of the discerning food critics in the country.

Rajdeep loves eating out at different restaurants. A true blue Bengali at heart and gut, experimenting with food and palates come naturally to him. And he doesn't mind leaving an endearing word or two for chefs who have displayed their talents on the plate and the restaurant management for the inviting ambiance of an eatery.

Rajdeep counts is as his forte the wonderful rapport he shares with different media houses. Thus his writings have already been picked up by top food journals and news dailies apart from the exposure he has to talk about them on social media. Reputation management of his clients come naturally to him be it on the virtual platform or in print.

He has been blogging for the last three years. When he is not writing on food and travel or working as a Government employee, you can most certainly catch him with a camera slung around his neck and travel gear ready to satisfy his inner wanderlust.