Country 055 – Nepal (Hakka Khazana)

: 735 Twain Avenue, Mississauga

Hakka Khazana is a Nepali/Chinese/Indian restaurant.  That feels like they might be spreading themselves a bit too thin, but hey, sometimes you have to take what you can get.

The first dish — and the clear highlight — was the palungo ko saag.  Though a cursory Googling shows this to be something akin to creamed spinach (but without the cream), the version served here was very, very different.  Maybe this is a regional variation, like how American barbecue differs depending on where in the South you are.  Or maybe it’s just inauthentic — it’s impossible to know for sure (okay fine, it’s actually very possible to know for sure, but that would require way more work than I’m willing to put in for this blog).

The version of the dish served here was basically just some kind of stir-fried baby bok choy.  Authentic or not, with a nice hit of garlic and a strong dose of curry-like spices, it was a very pleasant surprise.  It was one of those dishes that doesn’t seem particularly spicy at first, but then delivers a strong kick that lingers.  It was great.

The kasi ko masu — basically a fairly standard mutton curry — didn’t fare quite as well.  It was fine; the sauce had a nice flavour, even if it was a bit milder than I would have liked.  But nothing about it particularly stood out, and the mutton was rubbery and tough.


Country 054 – Bangladesh (Premium Sweets)

: 7025 Tomken Road, Mississauga

One of the few nice things about being in Mississauga is that it makes doing this blog pretty easy.  Ethnic food from all over the globe is readily available — including, of course, Bangladeshi cuisine.

I wanted to try the sorshe ilish — it’s one of Bangladesh’s national dishes, according to Wikipedia — but apparently Premium Sweets only have a small assortment of what’s on their menu available at any given time.  So I went with the mutton bhuna, which came with rice, naan bread, and a small cucumber salad.

Everything was tasty, but not much more; it was one of those inoffensively enjoyable meals that’s good, but not memorable in any particular way.

The mutton bhuna featured chunks of reasonably tender meat in a thick, mildly spicy curry base.  The mutton may or may not have actually been mutton, though; there was absolutely none of that mildly gamy, distinctive flavour that you get from lamb (a flavour that should only be intensified with mutton).  I suspect that they’re using beef instead.

The sauce was tasty; it’s nothing too mindblowing, but it’s a solid curry.

The naan came tightly wrapped in foil; I really wish they hadn’t done that.  The lightly crispy exterior that you get from freshly-baked naan had been completely steamed away inside the foil.  It was fine, but it had none of the textural contrast that distinguishes great naan from the merely good; it was just uniformly soft and chewy.

The cucumber salad was a really good compliment to the main meal, with its vinegary crunch providing a nice contrast to the rich curry.

And of course, you can’t go to a place called Premium Sweets without trying the dessert, so I got a selection of six of their Bangladeshi sweets.  I have no idea what any of them were or what they were called (quality food writing, right?), but they all had a similarly crumbly, fudgy texture and a nutty, vaguely exotic flavour.  A couple were more crumbly and a couple were creamier, but they all tasted about the same. I enjoyed them, but a bit more variety would have been nice.

Premium Sweets - the mutton bhuna Premium Sweets - the dessert

Country 011 – Sri Lanka (Anantha Bhavan)

: 4646 Heritage Hills Boulevard, Mississauga
Website: None

Apparently a mega-popular Sri Lankan street food, I’ll admit that I wasn’t even particularly familiar with kottu roti before trying it at Anantha Bhavan.

Sometimes you try a new dish, and it’s strange and unfamiliar; it’s good, but you can see why it might be considered an acquired taste.  This was not one of those times.

I honestly think anyone would enjoy this — it’s essentially a South Asian version of hash.  Consisting of pieces of roti (a flatbread) griddled with eggs, veggies, meat, and spices, it’s got all the crispy, starchy, eggy textures you expect from a hash, but thoroughly infused with floral Sri Lankan spices.  It’s pure comfort food.

At Anantha Bhavan, you can get it vegetarian, with chicken, or with mutton.  A quick Google search revealed mutton to be traditional, so that’s what I got.  A couple of pieces of meat were a bit on the chewy side, but aside from that the morsels were tender and tasty.

It’s one of those dishes where once you start eating, you can’t stop.  I was on my lunch break and didn’t particularly want to go back to work stuffed, so I thought I’d eat about half and save the rest for later. Easier said than done.  And it’s a huge portion for seven bucks, so it’s a pretty good value, too.

How have I gone my whole life without having even heard of this, let alone tried it?  How is this dish not a bigger deal?  I don’t get it.  I can only bemoan all those years spent kottu roti-less, like a sucker.  Thanks a lot, society.

Anantha Bhavan - the restaurant Anantha Bhavan - the inside Anantha Bhavan - Kottu Roti