I am always accused by family that I get acquainted with a new place far too soon. Well, not exactly true, if you ask me. Actually it is the eateries and restaurants I find out in no time.
I came to Kolkata a couple of years back, and I kind of love this place because of the food in all its varieties. From local markets to supermarkets, its food, food, food.
Food and eating is a big topic by itself, so I would be writing it in two parts. This is not a review of restaurants and hotels, and I can’t help you in this. Also, I bet everyone is not blessed with the extra cash or a self-replenish-able c/card. For those who ARE blessed, I’d suggest you just walk into HHI, Oberoi, The Park, The Sonar etc and order the one you like.
But for others here it goes…
Let me start off with the most famous fish species the Kolkatans or the Bengalis love to eat. Hilsa (Ilish) . Such a delicacy. It is always preferred when cooked in a traditional way in raw mustard sauce with green chillies. Not much of spices, cooked simple and an easy eat if you are fine with fish bones. You will sometimes find it cooked wrapped in banana leaves. There is this chain of restaurants in Kolkata called Bhojohari Manna where you get the nearest to home-cooked food-look-and-taste-alike. Though the dishes are a little overpriced as compared to the content of the whole platter, it gives you a near-bengali-traditional-food eating experience. (Two-persons Rs 500-700).
Other than that, you will find the Bengali platters and buffets in Oh! Calcutta or other posh diners, but too much of those fancy is not healthy. I am no prince anyway.
I did a rough background check on the Chinese community in Kolkata, and everything I needed was found here
Now apart from the standard restaurants like Mainland China, Yo! China and a whole lot of other chain of restaurants which serves Chinese, there are a lot of eateries and restaurants in Kolkata which serves authentic Chinese. China town hosts a whole neighborhood of Chinese restaurants, each with different specialties.
However, since we cannot go through all of them here, we go a little north towards Salt Lake City, Sector 3 Fd-30A/2 Kolkata – 700064 to The Golden City (Proprietor and owner – John Liao). They offer multi cuisine menu, and has a bar in the first floor of a two storied resto-bar. The floor staff is exceptionally polite and the owner and his wife personally move from table to table greeting the guests-patrons and new-comers alike. Once a year they hosts the Chinese New-year, which is normally a private affair, but if however, you get an invite, then there is a fair chance of meeting Chinese dignitaries of the Commission and can see the traditional Dragon dance.
Alright, it’s the food we are discussing, so we circle back to the main topic. Food there is excellent and caters to the taste buds of all ages and choices. Potato finger fries with green chilies is a ‘must have’. If you savor pork, then they have the best portion of fresh pork in the city. Easy customizable menu – the content of spices and control according to one’s taste is a welcome option. But please speak to the proprietor for that (don’t quote me!! J ) So summing up – Food 4/5, Service 4/5, Ambience 3/5, Cost 4/5. So all in all it’s a 4/5.
The park street. The Wikipedia does most of the background things for us, especially for this street. But my pick of restaurants in the street is a lean list which I will take one on one from here.
1) Peter Cat: Consider yourself lucky if you can get a table during dinnertime on any day, a weekday or a weekend without waiting in a queue that may run for an hour or more sometimes.
Since I wanted to know the reason behind the huge interest of people to get in, I decided that I needed to get a table someday. So, a weekday at 7:30 PM, me and a couple of my friends went in. But even at that time of the evening, we had to wait for fifteen minutes to get a three seated table.
Food was good, but didn’t quite fancy my taste bud. But that’s my take on Mughlai food. I don’t much like them. Dressed somewhat like the Afghans with long shirts and a turban, the waiting staff takes your orders with little or no help on the choice of food. Sizzlers are good, but I don’t find any striking difference with any other restaurant’s sizzlers. They have in-house chef’s specials. But I was not too keen to try them. And till date I have not had the opportunity to go in early to taste that. Or maybe I didn’t want to.
Wine (white and red) is served by the bottle.
2) Bar B Q: Best known for Oriental cuisine. They have a two door entry on either side of the McDonalds. They ‘preferably’ serve Indian food in the hall through the left door and Chinese in the hall through the right. I could find six small and big wooden furnished dining spaces of which two are sufficiently huge. They also have a small space where they usher in couples, mostly. Its in the second floor.
It is advisable not to go there alone as the portion is too big for a single person. Food is non-spicy, though u can always tell the attending floor manager to choose the spices as per your taste and like.
They serve wine (both white and red) by the bottle. Quite pricey but is much less than other similar range restaurants. Standard Three course for two – (without wine and liquor) comes around 700.
3) Trincas’ and the Ming room:
The park street is best known for live music since the early 70s. The days when Usha Uthup sang there. Trincas’ is one of the pioneers of Western music and cabarets in Calcutta or can say in India. Each night they would have the resident-live band playing to the tunes and lyrics of the Doors, Santana, Boney-M, Dire Straits, Bryan Adams and others. Lately they have started singing the latest R&B hits, which I have not registered in my head yet. But the turn off is the female vocal who compensates her talent of singing with lean skimpy clothes, which the crowd adores (I think). She does sing Diana Ross’ version of I will survive quite well.
Come June, the Trincas is alive with one of the country’s best cabaret singer Jenny (in the picture) who belts out old time hits like Rasputin, her cabaret version of ‘Country Roads’, killing me softly and others. On request she also sings ‘Que Sera Sera’ and ‘Bachelor Boy’.
The band takes requests. But your song maybe sung the next day since the list of requests is too long for the evening.
The food; if you are searching for a place to spend a nice time with your friends listening to live music and a few drinks, then Trincas it is. But if you are a food lover and you are searching for a good dinner, then Trincas is not the place. Recently they have introduced a platter with a little of chicken/lamb/fish, mashed potatoes, kimchi and a portion of fried rice. This is a nice choice if you do not want to go through the menu and decide. The music is too loud to be asking for inputs from the floor managers. You just have to point on the menu or speak in his ear, which I find is weird.
If you are taking a girl out on a date, then Trincas is not the place. But families come and enjoys. If you are a big group, it is advisable to book a couple of tables an hour or two before hand, and please be strict on time.
Dance floor is open to couples. Dinner for two comes up to 700 which do not include the drinks. Wine is served by the glass.
The Ming room is a closed cabin with around 10 tables which is sound-isolated from the cabaret area but separated by a transparent glass partition.
4) Moulin rouge: One of the few restaurants in Kolkata where live music was played, but is now reduced to a piano and a saxophone duet recital. The dining area is a little cramped up, but the decors of the walls are unique with pop-out portraits of Moulin rouge.
However, it’s not the best place to be for dinner dates. The floor managers and the attending staff seem to be hospitable-like, but are basically indifferent to guests’ requests, which is easily readable.
Food is just ordinary (frankly no other words to say).
I’ll bluntly say this. For food, I don’t recommend the place.
5) The Gangaur (Teej) – If you are a ‘religiously’ strict vegetarian and in the City, I bet you have found it hard to find a good place to eat without the nagging thoughts of whether a chicken was killed in the kitchen. Anyway, the Gangaur (Teej) is the place you would like to try out.
All food are cooked without onion and garlic. The place offers very rich vegetarian food. Pure-Ghee is an ingredient of almost all dishes, but it gives a sweet aroma and a feel of rich North Indian heritage.
They serve Rajasthani, Gujarati thali (platter) with unlimited servings. However, the first serving is rich enough to fill your appetite. Apart from the thali you can also have your choice of dish with Roti, naan etc. (Indian bread).
Since it is the only pure-vegetarian restaurants in the area, it is almost packed during the dinner time, especially weekends. So, you might as well have to wait for a few minutes to be seated.
Drinks ordered separately. Dinner for two with a three course meal would amount to about INR 700- 900.
Till a few years back, I was of the strong will that I won’t be paying to eat veg. But this money is considered ‘good spent.’ The quality of food is good and is recommendable.
There are others in the street– One step Up, Magnolia, Big Max hobby place, Alibaba, Sauravs and all. But they didn’t impress me much!!
Note: Check out “Some place else”
You can’t miss the road-side Kati rolls. They are delicious and filling too, though a little high on the calorie side, but all the more, tasty.
Here concludes my first part of the food experience in Kolkata. This was centered around the Park Street.
Check out later for more.