A restaurant in Kolkata offers nuggets of literature and art on its menu, besides fish.

So here I am— surrounded by a lot of fish eaters. When in Rome do as the Romans do. So when in Kolkata, eat fish.

I had been hearing some conflicting reports about a newish restaurant in the Eastern metropolis called Fish Fish. Someone had loved it, and somebody else had not been greatly impressed by it. So when I landed up in Kolkata last week, I decided that I had to try the place out and judge it for myself.

Fish Fish is on Swinhoe Road, near Ballygunge. It serves all kinds of fish— from pomfret and bekti to hilsa and seafood. The décor is simple— a serpentine blue light on the ceiling recalls a river, and a worn out fishing net highlights the day’s catch. The menu card is tastefully done— with little nuggets from literature and the arts jogging the memory about the world of fish. And on the menu are various kinds of fish preparations – grilled, baked, fried, steamed, in pasta, with khichuri, with fried rice and what have you.

Our first disappointment was when we ordered a combo meal— consisting of a helping of khichuri, some aubergine fritters and fried hilsa. The combo meals, we were told, were only served in the afternoon.

So we asked for a dish called Mediterranean salmon, fried fish with tartar sauce, barbequed prawns with a burnt garlic salsa and seafood fried rice.

The food was so-so, good and great in turns. The salmon was a mistake— the fish (Indian salmon) was pulpy (and even mildly smelly), and the greens that it came heaped with were a bit too tough. The garlic bread that we ordered with the salmon was so old and crusty that it reminded me of some of my mathematics teachers in school. The fried fish was not much to write home about either. Though the crumby exterior was crunchy, the fish itself was flaky and had some masalas that it didn’t need. The bowl of green peas it came with, however, was rather nice – simply buttered and peppered.

The dish that I ordered, I am happy to say, was the best.

The prawns were big and juicy and had been spiced and grilled well. Hot and tasty, these went well with the garlic-flavoured salsa. I ate this with the seafood fried rice, which was truly excellent. The rice was long-grained and aromatic, and it was full of goodies— from small shrimps to crunchy squid rings. The spices were just right, too, and one could actually have the rice without anything on the side.

We asked for the dessert menu, but gave it up when we found that they served ice creams and rosogullas. I don’t suppose they can have fish desserts, but it would have been nice if the list of desserts was a bit more enticing.

The best thing about Fish Fish is the pricing. Most dishes are for Rs.250-Rs 350, which is a real steal when compared with prices in Delhi.

I was later told by someone who swears by Fish Fish that I should have tried out their chitol fish seek kabab and tandoori pomfret. Maybe next time?

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