Posted on January 5, 2014


This winter has been gruelling and it’s not even half-way over yet. For when the ice storm happened, I waited it out and watched it in the comforts of my balcony. But it seems that there is no reprieve to this insanely cold weather. I don’t think I’d spend the whole winter just watching from my window. So last Friday, I came out and had dinner at Pukka with my friend TitaFlips, a.k.a Diona Joyce at the coldest Friday for a long time now. A night at about -24 C with a windchill close to -40 C, I hoped Indian cuisine would give me spicy warm fuzzy feelings.

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As Diona and I came early, parking was not an issue. I found it literally in front of Pukka. As we walked in, there were already considerable amount of people dining. As most trending places goes, it might be prudent for you to make reservations. The restaurant has a fair amount of tables and spots on the bar. It has a different approach to most Indian restaurants as the interiors sang contemporary, with clean contrasts of light and dark. It definitely sought out to expand its demographic to include foodies like me.

As most of the items in the menu come tapas style, Diona and I decided on sharing everything. We had Eggplant Tartare, Winter Green with Paneer, Butter Chicken, Garlic Naan and Basmati rice. As we waited, I also asked for Mango Lassi. I somehow got hooked with this Indian specialty. Enjoying Philippine Mango all of my childhood, I am usually picky about anything that involves mangoes. Pukka’s mango lassi certainly delivered, smooth, velvety and fresh, upping the ante by adding a swirl of pomegranate reduction. I just love it when I actually taste the mango’s tartness and not just a swig of sugar-sweetness.

It did not take too long when the Eggplant tartare was delivered to our table. Tandoori smoked eggplant with khasta rosti, the complex flavours blended so well. Soft, fragrant and tart, I might want it with an added kick. I wish I can get it in a jar and bring it home. I can imagine myself topping crackers as I watch TV, I wouldn’t mind it’s all vegetarian and healthy. LOL.

The rest of the food arrived after we finished off the Eggplant Tartare. As the garlic naan landed on the table, I could already tell how good it would be. The butter chicken, winter green with paneer and basmati rice followed and Diona and I had a full table. I really enjoyed how the butter chicken gravy made the naan and the rice even better. The winter green with paneer was not exactly what I envisioned it to be. I was hoping it would resemble my favorite Saag paneer. No matter, the choice was a good contrast to the butter chicken, its bitter notes complimenting the rich, savory taste of butter chicken. I do notice that the spice level was not as its usual intensity as most places I have been to. However, that doesn’t take away from the experience as I still taste the depth of intricate layers of flavors. It is what I enjoy most about Indian cooking, that comfort of tasting food that was slowly and passionately cooked.

We finished off the meal with Festive Coconut cake, caramel sauce with poached apricots as dessert. I appreciated that it was not overly sweet even with the caramel sauce. After all the sweets that I ate through the Christmas season, I am surprised that I still haven’t succumbed to diabetic coma. I wished I asked for coffee as it would have been a good pair to that dessert. Ah well, there would always be another time to have another indulgence.

So don’t let the weather keep you in. The city still lives and breathes no matter how frigid the weather could be. I guarantee it would cure your cabin fever and make the experience worth all the trouble of putting on your winter gear.

Pukka on Urbanspoon

Posted in: Midtown, Toronto Eats