Don’t worry, be happy! And eat some amazingly good food while you are at it. That, in a nutshell, is the feeling one would get at Hakuna Matata, Park Street.
The bright yellows all around is an instant mood-lifter, and it is evident that a lot of thought has gone into the decor of the entire place. The hand-woven barricades made by local artists, the coasters with happy Swahili words, the stick-it Wishing Tree, the three sculpted mountaineers by Chhatrapati Dutta, symbolizing exploration and adventure, the miniature cycles and the painted oars showing travel and movement – all come together to induce a very positive vibe and also fuels your wonderlust.
Prabhas and Pallavi, the two running the show at Hakuna Matata, make it a point to keep the celebrations going all year round, in keeping with the spirit of the place. They make sure that each and every occasion is celebrated with equal zest here, be it Christmas or a Cricket match. Well, free rounds of shots every time India hits a 6 is a celebration, all would love to be a part of. On days they have some super-talented city musicians playing live music, and have had dance troupes to pump up the mood on previous occasions too.
While Chef Chanchal Dutta was rustling up some food for us, Raj and Sunny mixed a line of their cocktails and mocktails. Of their mocktails, I will recommend their Matata Cooler, the perfect blend of tender coconut water, watermelon and mint. But with their cocktails starting at just 160 bucks, it would be foolish not to have a few rounds around. Of their Bulb Cocktails, the Crystal Lady was my favourite, with gin, lime, gomme syrup and lemonade creating quite a stir. But I personally, would urge people to try out their unique and hearty Beer cocktails, specially the African Sunset.
Another very interesting part of the place is of course Koko, the adorable mascot of Hakuna Matata, representing fun and free spirit of the world. He is there on the walls, the menu and everywhere around. The branding has been taken very seriously here, and the Brand Card, the Table Mats doubling up as concept notes, the writings on the walls (literally), guide the customers through the wonderful ideas behind this place.
One thing which really pleased me about this place was the happy and genial serving staff. Oh, and did I mention that HM is a vegetarian place, and a good many options on their menu can be made to suit the Jain mandates.
When I went to HM on an invitation a few days back, the hosts made sure that the guests were indeed fed well! The meal started with the Crunchy Fried Bharwan Bhindi served with Blue Cheese Mayo Mustard and Khatta Aam Relish. This was a cracker of a dish, and in this. Another very interesting dish was the Slow Roasted Chocolate Pizza with Corn and Jalapenos. Chocolate in savouries is a relatively new trend, and they has executed it with elan, with this pizza. There are no contrasts in this, unlike what might be expected; rather the chocolate seamlessly blends in with the spicy jalapenos.
For mains, my vote clearly goes to the Desi Saag Risotto, and I couldn’t stop myself from polishing off the entire bowl of it, in no time. In fact, this my favourite part of the meal at HM.
Of the two desserts that I tried, the Nolen Gur Cheesecake was a sheer delight. It is the picture perfect marriage of our very own nolen gur (date palm jaggery) and the firang cheesecake.
Another thing which I must mention about HM is that, the way they present the food is absolutely stunning. It’s not ordinary food, it’s art on a plate and such beautifully plated and presented food is sure to whet one’s appetite.
Finally, a big thank you to Prabhas and Pallavi for being such wonderful hosts. And may Hakuna Matata keep spreading smiles through good food.