reviews

Oh Calcutta has become the popular choice for the local's and visiting delegates from around the world and has been reviewed by a wide range of newspapers, magazines and guides, both locally and internationally, including...


Best Indian - Oh Calcutta
12:00AM Wednesday November 19, 2008

From fish and chips to chicken rice, nachos to pad thai, Viva has hunted out the most fabulous fast food in town.

In the fast-paced world we live in, food on the run has become a regular part of our lives - grabbing dinner on the way home from work, after a night out or just as a welcome break from slaving over a hot stove.

Here in Auckland we are spoilt for choice - with a fantastic range of takeout food inspired from all corners of the globe.

The team at Viva has, again, been out and about researching on your behalf to find new places that serve up healthy, fresh and tasty fast foods that - importantly in these times - also provide value for money.

We've written before about how it's easy to get stuck in a rut with takeaways - going to your regular because it's easy. That's why we decided to revisit Oh Calcutta in Parnell. A winner of these awards back in 2003, it was great to visit an old friend and find things have got even better.

Head chef and owner Meena Anand has ensured it. Meena grew up in Surat in Northern India and remembers the flavours and smells that came from the family kitchen and it is the traditions she learned there that she brings to her kitchen in Parnell.

Having dined in at Oh Calcutta on several occasions we knew that the food and service was superb. With each dish, the layers of flavour are wonderfully distinctive: you can taste the sour of the tamarind, the warmth of the cardamom, the heat of the chilli, the exotic star anise. And so it is with the takeaways.

Share an Oh Calcutta platter ($9.50 per person) for an entree and then tuck into saag ghosht - a famous Punjabi lamb curry in pureed fresh spinach, lightly spiced with fenugreek ($15.90), the Goan fish curry with coriander, lemon and coconut cream ($16.50) or the chicken tikka masala, which is smoked over charcoal, finished in a rich tomato, onion and coriander sauce, and is quite possibly the tenderest chicken we've eaten ($16.50).


Sunday Star Times
20.11.05
By Wendy Saunt

EAT STREET
a streetwise guide to Auckland eateries: Indian

IT SHOULD be taken as a good sign when you turn up to a restaurant, all perky and hungry, and the maitre d’ looks at you – as politely as possible – as though you’re a complete prat for not making a reservation. We must look desperate, though, because they can squeeze us in. Just

From the off, Parnell’s Oh Calcutta plays one trump card after another – gliding, serena waiters, effortless service, understated but elegant surroundings (tent like swaths of cloth and bronze statues of Hindu gods above the tables. Sooo Rajput)

But it’s with the food that we really die and go to heaven. We go for butter prawns and, because we can’t fathom why Indian restaurants serve cow, beef shajahani.

But seeing as we’re sitting under Ganesh (he the giveth) rather than Kali (she that taketh away), Im hoping the whole sorry beef-eating incident will be overlooked.

Holy cow, its good! From the moment the dishes are set down, there is intense curry-shovelling punctuated only with the occasional “ooh”, “mmmm”, and “oh that’s lovely”. We sound like a couple of gimps, but who cares, its divine

Oh Calcutta, Parnell
15.06.05
by Ewan McDonald for viva

Herald rating * * * * 1/2


It was a hell week at work so it was three or four days before I caught up with the Valley Girl.

She was still on a fast simmer. "I can't remember the last time that I enjoyed food so much," she told me. Which is no small compliment to the chef because the Valley Girl - unlike so many of her generation - does not shrink from letting anyone know how much she enjoys food.

Nor - again unlike so many of her generation - does she object to fish, fowl or flesh. Or all of the above at one sitting. "Bring it on," is her attitude.

Much to the surprise of our waiter who took our orders that night, repeated them back, and then ventured a tentative opinion. "May I just suggest," he offered, "that you may have a little too much food here? Perhaps, sir, if you were to reconsider the ... "

"I don't think so," the Valley Girl said in a tone that removed any suggestion of further debate on the matter.

I'm sure that if he'd heard the conversation, Anand Patel would have applauded. Over a decade he has refined Oh Calcutta to the point where many insist it is the country's best Indian restaurant. .

These are hot times for Indian and other Asian foods, though Patel has lamented that 90 per cent of New Zealanders order butter chicken and suggested people try executive chef Meena Anand's chicken makhanwala or if they were adventurous, sweet chilli duck or a vindaloo.

We were going to be adventurous. Our road trip through the subcontinent would stop off at the tandoori prawn (marinated in yoghurt and spices, gently cooked in the tandoor), fish tikka (hapuka fillets wrapped in the green masala of coriander, seven herbs and spices then smoked); mansor kebab (lamb cutlets marinated in red spices and aromatics, skewered and boiled over charcoal); and a baby - I'd have said healthy teenager - snapper that had been marinated, skewered and smoke-roasted in the tandoor. Honourable mention to Anand's sweet chilli duck - boneless, cooked with roasted cumin, roasted spices such as cloves, brown cardamom and aniseed before finishing with fresh curry leaves, chilli and garlic.

Finally channa masala, chickpeas cooked in a lightly spiced tomato and onion gravy, because our mothers told us that we must have vegetables on the side of the plate. Or in our case, the table. Oh, and little dishes of cucumber and yoghurt raita because that sort of stuff is healthy. In moderation.

In our defence, five (give or take a few) of those dishes were entree-size. "There are just so many gorgeous things on this menu, I could eat them all," said the Valley Girl. "I want to come back tomorrow." So on balance I feel we were quite restrained.

We had a slight difference of opinion over the beverages, she sticking to the view of the great 1930s gastronome Andre Simon that the only match for curry is iced water while I go along with modern wine guys who say you can experiment with gewurztraminer, Australian dry riesling, softer shiraz with lamb tikka masala, New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

I experimented with Allan Scott's 2004 sauvignon blanc from a fairly priced wine list ($34 bottle). It matched most of the dishes apart from the whole snapper. I can't report on that because I didn't get a look in.

We thought about dessert but dismissed that as unnecessary self-indulgence. Ditto, a taxi. We walked. "You know, that waiter was probably right," reflected the Valley Girl around Symonds St. "I think you were greedy to have the lamb entree and the duck curry. One of those would have been quite enough."

Address: 151 Parnell Rd
Ph: 377 9090
Owner:
Anand Patel
Executive chef:
Meena Anand
Food:
Indian
On the menu:
Tandoori chicken (chicken marinated in spices and paprika) $18.50
Saag Ghosht (Punjabi lamb curry finished in pureed spinach, spiced with fenugreek) $17.50
Goan fish curry (fillet cooked in tomato and coriander sauce, finished with lemon and coconut cream) $16.95
Dal Makhani (stewed black lentils, finished with coriander) $13.95
Vegetarian:
All over the place
Wine:
Reasonable list, good prices
Bottom line:
Over a decade Anand Patel and Meena David have refined Oh Calcutta to the point where many insist that it is the best Indian restaurant in the country. Avoid the predictable, venture into chicken makhanwala or sweet chilli duck.

Best Indian - Oh Calcutta
12:00AM Wednesday August 13, 2003

Clockwise from top: Naan bread, rice, Navratten Korma (vegetarian), Butter Chicken and Vegetable Samosas.

This restaurant is a category winner in Viva's Ultimate Takeout Food Award winners 2003.

If you wait for a quiet time to visit this place, you'll be waiting forever. The flow of people in the doors is relentless. And it's not hard to see why - quite simply it's fantastic.
We're a little ashamed to admit we haven't graced Oh Calcutta before now. It's easy to get stuck in a rut with Indian food: you find a local place you like and stick with it. But if there was ever a reason to venture to a new spot, this is it.
There is a wide ranging menu featuring dishes from northern and southern India, including old favourites such as butter chicken, lamb rogan josh, and beef madras.
Our favourites were onion bhaji (slices of onion coated in chickpea flour and fried) and the prawn malabari.

The best curry in town - any way you like it.

Cost: Main dishes range from $11.90 (vegetarian) to $19 (seafood and meat) and come with steamed rice. Naan and roti are between $2.75 and $3.95.