One thing that India is internationally famous for apart from food ( spicy curry & butter masala, we know you are global star) has to be Bollywood. The grand costumes & mindless dancing on roads aside, Bollywood does bring a lot of attention, not to mention huge amount of business to the Indian soil. So at some point of time they are bound to collaborate, bringing something new to table. Bollywood themed restaurants in this case ( alas! I would so love to have something Hollywood-ish like ratatouille on my plate though. Now Bollywood themed restaurants certainly aren’t anything new. I mean we already have eateries with famous dialogues painted all over the place ( Gabbar’s, I’m looking at you). Forget Bollywood, Kolkata even boasts of tollywood (Bengal’s very own studio para or locality) themed eateries (Tolly Tales) as well. But the recent addition to he cities cap has a different approach altogether.
Hawa Hawaii ditches the vague term Bollywood, & focuses on a single Hindi film as it’s USP. It derives its name from a gibberish phrase used in one of the iconic films ever made. Mr. India, sometimes referred to as India’s first superhero film, is also hailed as one of the cult classics, & an absolute favourite among children of a no. of decades ( Sridevi in a wet saree, I highly doubt that as a children’s film, I mean watching that on TV used to be a major embarrassment for me at least. That redefined the meaning of hot, & made me distinguish between sense & sensuous 😛 ).
Jokes aside the restaurant has been designed with the Mr. India nostalgia in mind. The first thing you’ll notice ( apart from the name of course ), is the lady at the entrance, donning a saree whose colour is sure to remind of the famous saree from the dance sequence. As you enter you’ll also notice the red colour, wall paintings, posters all relevant to the movie. Forget posters, the restaurant even got framed props like Mogambo’s jacket, Mr. India’s hat & violin hung on the walls. Even the washroom is walled with mirrors from the inside. Thank god the restaurant doesn’t serve liquor as of now (they are awaiting the licence), else I’m sure after a drink or two, I’d have been stuck in the loo like Mr. Bean inside mirror maze! Kidding. Anyway, it’s a themed restaurant, & you are bound to find these type of decorations in any decent themed eateries.
But Hawa Hawaii got some aces up its sleeves, which sure is going to trump you. First off, three of the tables are equipped with Microsoft surface enabled PCs, which basically means the table is a touchscreen computer. The touch response isn’t phenomenal though, hence you’re stuck with pretty basic games. However playing pooping balloons, cut the rope & fruit ninja won’t be a major problem. Interestingly the smart table also incorporates food ordering (no more waiting for the waiter), nice. I myself ended up browsing YouTube though, would have been so much better if they embedded some speakers in the table.
The other attraction, in fact the most attractive of all is the VR room. Yes you heard & guessed it right, it’s just like the ones you have been seeing in the online videos. You are made to wear a VR headset & sound cancelling headphones, then made to walk on a plank ( in the video you are walking on a plank some hundred feet up from the ground , on a building’s ledge ). The task may seem easy from outside, but once you put the headset & headphones on, it’s fairly scary. The task is quite challenging, & thank God they didn’t include a shrieking monster jumping from behind. I couldn’t complete the task, nor could my friends in the brief period of time we got to try it. It was a new & great experience.
So much about the background, ambience & games, let’s move on to the most important part, the food. We were there for a very quick-lunch, & a short set menu waited us. I’ll try to give a brief review of the items I tried.
Lazy Runner (Mocktail):
A thick pineapple & lemon drink, flavoured with ginger & star anise. The star anise plays a major role in the essence & taste, to such an extent that I couldn’t be sure whether I was drinking pineapple juice at all. The taste is fairly unique, sweet yet tangy & to some extent spicy.
Hawa Hawaii is also introducing mocktails with molecular gastronomic presentation. The dry ice is used to enhance the visuals & not actually in the preparation. In any case a fuming glass of chilled drinks surely goes with the ambience.
One of the most popular chicken kebabs, this one had a unique presentation. Instead of being laid on a regular plate, the kebabs were served in short skewers dangling from a short pedestal. The chicken pieces themselves were extremely soft & juicy with good amount of tikka masala on it.
Dal E Khaas:
A mixed lentil gravy topped with generous amount of malai served in miniature steel pail. The presentation is reminiscent of full size pails, which are generally used in rural areas to serve daal in wedding feasts. The daal itself was flavourful & amazing to have with the breads.
Paneer Butter Masala:
Yup, butter masala, the quintessential global Indian star dish I was talking about in the very first line. The soft chunks of cottage cheese was cooked in the usual rich cream & cashew based gravy. The spice levels were a bit high for my taste, though not too hot.
Chicken Tikka Masala:
A word of caution, this one is quite spicy. Chunks of chicken which were a bit on the harder side cooked in tomato based gravy along with lots of spices & finally finished with some cream blended in. The dish was hot, a bit too hot to go with plain breads. Paired with the sweeter ones, it went well though.
Usually this dish means rice cooked with nav-ratan or nine gems ( assorted veggies in this case). However Hawa Hawaii does this a bit different. In addition to various chopped veggies, they have included diced pineapples & some dry fruits in the rice. The whole thing gives the rice a much sweeter taste than expected, so much so the veggie & ghee aroma of usual pulao isn’t there. Some might find the sweetness of the pulao unattractive, however paired with the spicy chicken tikka masala, the pulao tasted amazing.
We ended our short meal with this wonderful dessert. A bitter yet sweet, thick yet fluffy, creamy yet chocoalate-y whipped preparation served in a martini glass with dollop of whipped cream. Presumably dark chocolate is used as the ingredient imparting the considerable bitterness, which is enjoyable till the last scoop nonetheless.
As is evident from the food section, Hawa Hawaii is a predominantly Indian restaurant with North Indian cuisine as it’s speciality, the tandoor dishes being the signature ones. This short meal was a little sneak peek into the wide variety of the items they have on the menu. In spite of the no. of items tasted being low, it gave a sufficient preview of what they are capable of. Added bonus are the games & ambience which sure is going to teleport you back to your childhood days. ‘Mogambo khush hua’ would be too clichéd a line to describe my experience. All I can say is, that I’ll be paying them a visit very soon to try out the other dishes from their menu.
Till then happy eating,