Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Foodie Jaunts - Bong Bong

Way back in my childhood and partially into my adult life, restaurants serving Bengali food just did not exist. I remember people visiting Calcutta too lamented the fact that if you wanted to eat good Bengali food you would have to hope that somebody would invite you to their homes. Calcutta too did not have too many restaurants serving Bengali food. Oh yes there were the road side stalls, but one sort of hesitated to eat there. Thankfully things have changed, Calcutta for many years has a number of Bengali restaurants but what is interesting is that Bombay too is fast catching up. It all started with Only Fish which later transformed into Oh! Calcutta, others like Bhojohori Manna, Bijoli Grill followed. Then there is Hangla, a chain of road side stalls with outlets in several places in Bombay, but in recent times the restaurant that gets my vote is Bong Bong.

Exterior of the restaurant
This is a small, well to be more precise a tiny restaurant. It is air-conditioned but not a plush restaurant. There is limited seating arrangement; it mostly caters to the home delivery segment. It has simple wooden seating arrangement which is surprisingly not uncomfortable.

Restaurant interior
The most important thing is that the food is reasonably priced and good. So what have we eaten here? Well nearly most of the dishes. The thali is good value for money; there is the vegetarian mini and maxi thali, fish thali, mutton thali and chicken thali.  Rice, luchi (puris made from maida) or pulao, bhaja moong dal (the moong dal is first dry roasted and then cooked) aloo bhaja (fried potatoes finely chopped lengthwise) or fried aubergine, a vegetable dish, papad, tomato chutney, salad and dessert of the day which usually is the payesh that is rice pudding or kheer as non-Bengalis call it. Of course depending on which thali you choose there will be another vegetable dish in case of vegetarian thali or fish, mutton or chicken dish. The fish in the fish thali is usually rohu or bekti (called bhetki by the Bengalis).  The thali as you can see in the photograph below is served in bronze thali and bowls giving the diner a feel of the way food used to be traditionally served in the olden days in Bengal.

Fish thali

If you happen to opt for pulao instead of luchis, you are assured a sumptuous meal as the plain steamed rice along with pulao, which has generous dose of raisins and cashew nuts, makes for a filling lunch. It would be wise to share it with someone.

 All the dishes are delicious and what is most important is that they make it to suit your taste, so when I say ‘no chillies’, they serve the dish without chillies.

Having tasted most of the dishes on the menu, I can say that Bong Bong gives you good value for money. We have eaten several times at Oh!Calcutta, the food there is excellent but what we noticed was some of the dishes are over spiced making the dishes a little heavy on the stomach. Mochar Ghonto (Banana Flower dish) and Dhokar Dalna (steamed and fried cakes made from chana dal / Bengal gram dal served in gravy) are two dishes that I found are little over spiced at Oh!Calcutta. On the other hand Bong Bong’s dishes are less spice heavy, in fact their Mochar Ghonto was closer to what my mum cooked, here is a link to mum’s Mochar Ghonto.

As their overheads are much lower than that of Oh!Calcutta, they are able to keep their prices low. So you can have some of the same dishes as Oh!Calcutta at substantially low prices. The dishes are equally delicious as Oh!Calcutta and at times a little more delicious. So you can have mochar chop (banana flower cutlet), boneless hilsa, pulao, bhetki paturi (steamed bekti wrapped in banana leaves), nolen gur ice cream (ice cream flavoured with date palm jaggery) here at Bong Bong at about half the cost or even lower.

Murgir (Chicken) Potli Kabab
All the dishes that we have tasted are yum therefore making it difficult for me to pick a favourite. But all the same here are the ones that we can go back for again and again, to begin at the beginning that is with the starters, there is the mochar chop, murghir potli kabab (minced chicken steamed in banana leaf bags) and koraishutir chop which is green peas croquette, it is absolutely wonderful. We have also eaten the usual Bengali favourites — bhetki fish fry and topshe fish fry (called mango fish in English). I have eaten bhetki fry several times, my mum made it whenever the fish was available, but the topshe fish fry was something that I ate for the first time. The fish is flown in from Calcutta as it is not available in Bombay. 

Topshe Fish Fry
Bhetki Fish Fry

Koraishutir Chop (green peas croquette)
In the mains, I love their Basanti Pulao, this pulao has some generous amount of nuts and raisins, and then there is chingrir mashala pulao that is basically prawn pulao. It is absolutely..., well I am running out of adjectives, so I will settle for YUM. 
Basanti Pulao
Amongst the other dishes I always feel tempted to eat their vegetarian dishes like mochar ghonto and chorchori which is a mixed vegetable preparation with some leafy vegetables, here the leafy vegetable is Malabar spinach (called pui shaak in Bengali)

I have not mentioned the prices because I think there are going to be some changes; a new chef has also taken over. The earlier chef had worked at Oh!Calcutta.  We found that a meal for two moderate eaters costs less than Rs.1000/-

For those interested, it is located at Bandra West in Bombay, near Pali Hill at the corner of 16th and 33rd Road, just round the corner from the very popular Khan-e-khaas.


  1. Shilpi, I am so envious! I love Bengali food, and getting a meal so good for less than Rs 1000 for two) sounds close to unbelievable. My mouth was watering as I read the list of dishes and saw the photos. Yummy!

    Incidentally, there's a 'new' (as in we have not been there yet, even though I think it's been around for a while) Bengali restaurant in town here in Delhi. It's called Big Bong Theory, and I've heard good things about it. Now I'm tempted to really go this weekend and try it out...

    1. Big Bong Theory! Interesting name I quite like the name. Madhu now I am looking forward to your review of the restaurant. As for Bong Bong, I keep my fingers crossed, I live in constant fear that it may close down. When the owners of the premises increase the rent, restaurant owners have no choice but to close down, the latest victim being one of the outlets of Mainland China.