First, fast, furious...Bangladeshi business blog

We provide
--social media strategies for Bangladeshi businesses worldwide
--public speaking on Bangladeshi businesses and social media
--paid product/service/website reviews of Bangladeshi companies

Interested to place an advertisement for your business?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh! (my God) Calcutta

Upon returning to Dhaka after nearly three years, I didn’t make any delay to visit one of the supposedly hip and happening food outlets in town – Oh! Calcutta at Banani Road 11. I have been hearing tales of movers and shakers visiting the premises, great reviews about food quality while horror stories about prices though. So it was kind of on top of my list of things to visit during this trip of mine. All thanks to Rumi for the company.

Coming straight to the point – I do think the food was awesome and the prices were a bit on the awful side. For apparently two oversized khadoks (me and Rumi) I think it was justified to order Murshidabadi Murg, cauliflower in mustard paste, king prawns malai curry, bhaja moong dal, rice, doi, bhapa shondesh and lassi! First some observations about the ambience – while I did like the roof and the window panes resembling the Victorian buildings in Kolkata, I think the interior cried for some more Calcutta flavour. Installing a real Tanga at the entrance would have been a great surprise to start with first thing coming out of the elevator. The empty walls starved for any kingsize landscape view of the Victoria Memorial or the Bidyasagar Shetu may be. Or even Rabindranath? Certainly not very impressed with the décor.

Operationally and presentation-wise, I think having a different version of the menu in Bangla would be very useful. Not that those who dine there can’t read English, but it would be nice to see the names of authentic Bengali cuisines from Kolkata in its native character. While I can read perfectly when it said Shorshe fulkopi (cauliflower in mustard paste) it would have been nice to also read সর্ষে ফুলকপি to add some indigenous flavour to the item.

Finally price – well in any case I have been so shocked to see the inflation in Bangladesh that the exuberance in Oh! Calcutta’s pricing structure didn’t make my jaw droop and I didn’t say ‘Oh my god Calcutta!’ I resorted to my hard earned British earnings and the mercy of the Queen II to have the nice meal in a busy Dhaka road instead of Central London with the same price. Mr. Anjan certainly did his homework well to assess the depth of the pocket of the Dhakabashis and he certainly knows well how to sell ice to Eskimos and how badly hungry we are to splash out our money even in the midst of seriously wrong price hikes hankering after gastronomic experiences. Notably so, as this is repackaging and reawakening at its best when confused consumers of this part of Bengal like me are rushing to eat Bengali cuisine from the other part of Bengal which should have been cooked and served in our homes from childhood in any case. Well, like everything else, anything sells here. All credit to the entrepreneurs.

One clever thing about the pricing is that in the menu they haven’t used numeric figures to denote prices. For example, it is written as ‘four hundred ninety five’ instead of Tk. 495/-. I assume the shock will be less to read prices in words rather in numbers, something we are very used to seeing everywhere else. I think this nicely camouflaged the premium pricing the owners are asking for their service. By the time your brain would have arrived at the possible cost of items you would like to order, you would simply just give up and hope for the best and relish the food instead.

As the owners have envisaged to give this place a sense of a Kolkata club, I also think that this place has the potential and possibility to become the hub of intellectuals, culinary adventurists, artists, painters, actors – whosoever thinks they must have lost their true identity in the non-stop chaos and confusion in Bangladesh and will thus find solace and redemption by eating the culture elements of being a Bengali. Thank you Anjan, thank you Kolkata, dhonnobad tomake! Next verdict – I will surely eat there again if someone sponsors me, any takers or corporate patrons?

No comments: