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Restaurants

Pukka

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on November 7, 2013 / review policy

Pukka TorontoPukka, a newly opened restaurant and wine bar on St. Clair is offering a fresh take on Indian cuisine. Owned by Harsh Chawla and sommelier Derek Valleau, the new spot boasts snackable street foods, family style feasts and even a few lighter selections.

pukka torontoTaking over the former address of Zemra, the refreshed interior features sleek black ceilings, painted white brick walls, industrial cabinetry and pops of green and orange upholstery. A pair of glossy canvases scrawled with a Hindi creed is the lone detail evocative of its Indian identity.

pukka torontoAt the crux of Pukka's ambitions is a serious wine program curated by Valleau and Peter Boyd (sommelier at Scaramouche). Bottles starting at $39 and glasses priced from $8.29 to $12 are selected to pair with rich, spice-infused comfort foods and fun festive bar snacks like South Indian styled fried Chicken 65 ($9.40), Gunpowder Prawns ($16.10) and Butternut Squash Samosas ($6.90).

Pukka TorontoI try the Chaat ($8.70), a cold salad featuring a hearty mix of sweet potatoes, mung beans, chickpeas, crunchy puffed rice, green apple, radishes, carrots, scallions and micro greens dressed with chutney and sweet yogurt. The dish is delicious and exciting to eat; it could even rival Susur Lee's famed slaw for its multitude of ingredients, contrasting textures, and bold, unique flavours.

From the list of kebabs I try the North Indian-inspired Malai Chicken Tikka ($12.80) featuring super tender bites of poultry marinated in saffron, cashew and cardamom-spiced yogurt served with a green chili sauce for dipping.

Pukka TorontoNext up, thick slabs of Stuffed Paneer ($15.90) are layered with oyster mushrooms and identifiably fresh spinach over a base of creamy pistachio korma sauce. On the side, warm Buttter Naan ($2.80) sops it all up alongside an order of crunchy French Beans ($7.90) covered with turmeric, coconut and caramelized onions.

Pukka TorontoInstead of typical Indian desserts that Chawla admits aren't always well received (I couldn't agree more; I'm not a fan of gulub jamun), there are choices like a Chai Pot de Creme ($7.20) or Eton Mess ($6.70) with rosewater meringue and sweet lassi cream.

Pukka is open daily for dinner at 5pm. Reservations are accepted and take-out orders are welcome.

Pukka TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

11 Comments

Gurdeep Jones / November 7, 2013 at 07:52 pm
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"Indian restaurant with a big focus on wine" means it is not an authentic Indian restaurant.
Bobby replying to a comment from Gurdeep Jones / November 8, 2013 at 01:31 am
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Thank goodness! It may be actually interesting.
Kapil / November 8, 2013 at 02:17 am
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The ambiance looks great, food looks delicious. Hope to dine-in soon.
Priya Rosario / November 8, 2013 at 10:44 am
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@Gurdeep - How does a focus on wine make the food any less authentic? If anything, finding the right wine to pair with the complexity of flavours in Indian food, only heightens the experience. Even in India wineries are starting to gain traction, and there is even an India International Wine and Food Show in Delhi. I for one am looking forward to checking Pukka out, and will judge the food on its merits.
Rosh / November 8, 2013 at 03:31 pm
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Amazing.. Indian Food with wine is the perfect combination.. and that does not make it any less authentic!
BillyO / November 11, 2013 at 02:11 pm
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Had an excellent dinner here this past weekend. Food was incredible, and the place itself was packed - good to see people are checking this place out. Has a bunch of things from the menu (chaat, kabobs, paneer, lamb shank) and it was all very flavourful and presented wonderfully. Had a few glasses of wine, they've paired it well with the food. Would definitely recommend
Danielle / January 26, 2014 at 08:31 am
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I went to Pukka a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it very much. However, one thing needs to be kept in mind that wasn't mentioned in this review; the main course, (none of which were displayed here), range from $20+ before taxes. If I'm not mistaken, all the items listed in this review are starters. When I dined at Pukka, my friends and I ordered a bunch of appetizers to share, simply because the main dishes were too expensive. However, it was all delicious, and I definitely recommend the Chicken 65. If you are not on a budget, Pukka is a great choice for you.
Mike / February 7, 2014 at 11:05 am
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My girlfriend and I went to Pukka for dinner last night. Everything was exceptional - from the food, to the service, to the food. Did I mention the food yet? So good! I recommend the goat cheese stuffed lamb kabobs ($9.60) and the spinach and mushroom stuffed paneer ($17.30). We will definitely be paying this place another visit soon.
TorontoFoodBwoy / March 14, 2014 at 02:21 am
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Great food, decor, pretty good service but entrees are way over priced. Get real guys. There is a reason they keep on handing out 20 dollar gift certificates
Perry / June 12, 2014 at 11:13 pm
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Truly delicious modern twists to traditional dishes.
Percolator / August 20, 2014 at 03:54 pm
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It's lovely food, nice layered and complex flavours for Indian food (which can sometimes be heavy-handed). The service was efficient and friendly too. But it's pricey, that's for sure, even if you stick with beer rather than a bottle of wine. I save it for more special occasions, and go to Banjara or Madras Masala if I'm looking for a quick delicious bite at a more affordable price point.

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