Recently opening on St. Clair West, Pukka (@pukkatoronto) brings to the city a contemporary take on Indian food. Owned by Derek Valleau (formerly of Crush Wine Bar) and Harsh Chawla (a restaurant-industry consultant), the restaurant has an impressive roster of chefs with previous experience at Amaya and Scaramouche. Oh, and not to mention sommelier Peter Boyd who previously worked at Scaramouche. He came up with a great wine program at Pukka which isn’t an easy task given the bold and spicy flavours of Indian food. But I can assure you, you’ll be in good hands here!
The restaurant has a modern and industrial look to it which matches the contemporary food that it serves. It’s quite spacious with plenty of seating and a beautiful bar by the entrance.
Last week, I was invited to a media event at Pukka and had the chance to sample some of their fantastic dishes. Here’s a look at what we tried:
Cold Tandoori Smoked Eggplant Tartare – with khasta roti
Mixed Vegetable Pakoras – with tomato chutney
Vegetable String Chaat – puffed rice, sprouts, chutneys + sweet yoghurt
Baby Kale Salad – dates, lotus chips + spiced cashew dressing
Chicken 65 – south Indian fried chicken + chili-tamarind sauce
Goat Cheese Stuffed Lamb Kebabs – with a pomegranate reduction
Poppadoms – with chutney
Spinach & Mushroom Stuffed Paneer – with a pistachio korma sauce
Pan-seared Pickerel – with coconut + curry leaf
Butter Chicken – with a tomato infused butter sauce
Beef Short Ribs – braised with black cumin, garlic + ginger
Daal Makhani – slow cooked black lentils
French Beans – caramelized onions, turmeric + coconut
Assorted Naan Basket
Eton Mess – rosewater meringues, pomegranate, mango & sweet lassi cream
During our dinner, Derek emphasized that at Pukka, they focus on layering of spices instead of focusing on heat. This was certainly evident in the dishes we tried as everything was packed full of flavour without being overpowered with heat.
Honestly, there wasn’t a bad dish at the table. But if I had to choose a few highlights, one of them would definitely be the sweet and mildly spicy fried chicken 65. I could not stop eating these addictive little bites and I can assure you, I had more than my fair share of these. I also really enjoyed the ridiculously tender fall-apart beef ribs which were covered in a delicious sauce. I can’t forget about the butter chicken either, which was a clear winner at the table.
As for the veggie options, I loved the smoked eggplant tartare. We had them as hors d’oeuvres before the meal and I couldn’t think of a better way to start off the evening. If you’re a fan of kale, you’d love the kale salad here. It’s quite different from many other versions I’ve eaten – I particularly enjoyed the addition of the crunchy lotus chips.
We finished off with the Eton Mess which was a really nice, light dessert to end the meal off with. It was similar to yogurt parfait and I loved the fact that it wasn’t too sweet.
Like I said, I had a wonderful meal at Pukka. It’s much lighter Indian fare than I’m used to and I loved the non-traditional elements used in their dishes which differentiates itself from other Indian restaurants in the city. With a great wine program and delicious contemporary Indian fare, Pukka is definitely worth checking out!
*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post are my own.*