We had a visitor – a young niece who grew up in Calcutta but had been studying in Bangalore, and who told us that she missed eating fish. So one evening we landed up at Howrah Junction. I'd written about the eatery a few years ago when it opened in a Noida mall. I subsequently heard it had shut shop. So when the news came in that it had opened all over again – this time in Mayur Vihar mall – I was happy, but a little apprehensive. Somehow, I've found that eateries in malls don't seem to succeed. Some have done well, no doubt – but these are a few rare cases.

Anyway, we landed up there – in the Star City Mall in Mayur Vihar Extension – and ordered our meal: one plate of mutton chops, one plate of fish cutlet, two plates of prawn malai curry, one plate of kosha mangsho with parathas (Rs.150), one plate of radha ballabhi with aloo (Rs.95), one pati shapta (Rs.50) and one gur kulfi (Rs.40).

First, let me give you the good news. The prices are very, very reasonable. Where else will you get three huge prawns served with rice for Rs.200? Now, for the bad news. The food is not good. The cutlets and chops were coated with black crumbs, which either means the oil was very hot or had burnt crumbs in it. The niece's prawns smelt bad. My mutton – which is a dry preparation – was very hard. The radha bollobhi – which are stuffed puris – were all right, though more like bhaturas than puris, I thought.

Good dessert

What was good was the dessert. The pati shapta – a crepe with a sweet coconut filling – was excellent, and had been covered with thickened milk and the much loved date palm jaggery of the east. The kulfi again was delicious – soft pieces of thickened milk which had been frozen and cut into small pieces. The kulfi had been flavoured with gur as well, which worked very well.

This is not a fine dining restaurant, so I didn't go there expecting great food. In fact, Howrah Junction seeks to promote the Kolkata Street Food – for that is its strap line. It does sell snacks that the city is famous for – kathi rolls (Rs.65-75), fish fries (Rs.110 for two), chicken and mutton cutlets (Rs.85 for two) and chops (Rs.55 for banana flower or egg chops, and Rs.75 for mutton or fish).

Still, the quality of the food has to be good. The service, even if in a mall, must be adequate. I am afraid the place didn't live up to our expectations on either of the two counts. I had a lot of hope – for I'd quite enjoyed the food at Howrah Junction in Noida. Even earlier, when malls were still to come up in Delhi we used to go to Haowin, which was the first restaurant in East Delhi where you could get lovely seafood. Haowin, which belongs to the same group, shut shop and has now opened up in the same mall. I hope its food is the way it used to be all those years ago. But Howrah Junction was a disappointment. Anyway, we decided to cook fish for the niece the next day at home. And that, I have to admit, was so much better than the fare the night before.

Keywords: Mayur Vihar

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