Restaurant Review: The Fish Thali
The Fish Thali
Food: 4 | Service: 3.5 | Décor: 3.5
Since the past few years, Pune has been flooded with seafood restaurants and most of them do a great job at serving fresh, delectable and authentic dishes from the coast. The Fish Thali is the newest addition to this ever growing list. It is a small, quaint family-run restaurant right on the prime Fergusson College Road.
The Fish Thali is located at the Tukaram Paduka Chowk on Fergusson College Road and is set up on the mezzanine floor above Marrakesh. The seating is simple and elegant with granite-top tables and comfortable chairs and cushioned seating platforms. The small and tidy kitchen is visible through a glass partition. The take-away menu is neatly scribbled on a chalkboard near the counter. Cute, quirky and creative seafood themed graffiti has been painted on the walls throughout the space.
The Fish Thali is a family-run restaurant started by the Samel family. At the helm is Mrs. Rajashree Samel, the matriarch who runs the kitchen ably supported by daughter-in-law Shibani and son Hrishikesh with the service. All the recipes are home recipes from Mrs. Samel’s Marathi kitchen and all the spices are made at home.
The menu is simple with fish thalis and fried fish options and changes as per the catch available on that particular day. The moment we were seated, we were served a glass of tival, a spicy Kokum drink meant as an appetizer. The refreshing tival was followed by a round of Bombil and Surmai Fry. The bombil (Bombay duck) rawa fry was crispy and melted in the mouth. The surmai (Kingfish) fry was fresh and flaky and though delicious, the masala overpowered the tasted of the fish slightly.
From the thalis we tried the Rawas Thali and the lavish Special Pomfret Thali. The Rawas (Indian Salmon) Thali comprised of two large portions of rawas fry, rawas fish curry, prawns curry with rice bhakris or chapatis and accompanied by mirgunda (fried papad made from pohe), jawla chutney (dried shrimps), prawn loncha (pickle), solkadhi and a bowl of sticky Indrayani rice. The prawns and fish curries were homely and each had its own individual flavor. Don’t try to fit them into Malwani, Karwari or Goan moulds, as the recipes come from Mrs. Samel’s home kitchen. The two humungous fillets of rawas fry were cooked perfectly. The mirgunda, jawla chutney and prawn loncha were perfect accompaniments. The solkadhi was a perfect balance of tang from the kokum and the freshness from the coconut milk. Cost at Rs. 450, this thali was an absolute value for money. The Special Pomfret Thali came with a full pomfret fry, a surmai curry, prawns curry, kolambi sautallela along with the usual sides. The pomfret was beautifully cooked and the masala was subtle and allowed the fish to shine. We picked the rice bhakris and to our delight the bhakris were made from tandalachi ukad (steamed and cooked rice flour) as opposed to the more popular roasted bhakris. The delicious kolambi sautallela (a home-style prawn sukka) was a great addition to this thali. But probably the best dish on the menu was the Prawns Khichadi. This homely and hearty rice dish seldom finds a place on restaurant menus. The sajuk tupatli prawns khichadi (made in pure ghee) had the right flavours and was generously filled with prawns. Make sure you ditch the cutlery and use your hands to enjoy this.
PLUS & MINUS
The homely and delicious food coupled with the extremely sweet and hospitable hosts works in the favour of The Fish Thali. The menu is limited and changes daily to ensure the freshness of the catch and ingredients. I will be going back soon to try their Crab Thali which is available on Fridays and Saturdays. This place has the potential to give the best sea-food restaurants in the city a run for their money. But seafood rules the menu here with no vegetarian or meat options in sight, barring an egg thali option.
Must-Try Dishes: Bombil Fry, Rawas/Surmai Thali, Prawns Sautallela, Special Pomfret Thali, Prawns Khichadi
Meal for Two: Rs. 600
Address: 119/B, Shivaji Nagar, Fergusson College Road, Tukaram Paduka Chowk, Pune - 411005
Timings: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM | 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM (Monday Closed)
Photo Courtesy: The Fish Thali
Note: The article was first published in Pune Times on 17 January 2020.