For college students of 1970s’ Calcutta (much before the city was renamed Kolkata), Chinatown used to be a favourite hangout. Located in the narrow alleys of Tangra, it was here that students like Dipankar Roy, now an executive editor with a Shillong-based daily, had their first bite of pork dim sum and got to taste fish shumai.
“Popular Chinese restaurants such as Chung Wah, Peiping, Golden Dragon were there even then, but for college students living on a shoestring budget, the place to go for Chinese delicacies used to be Tangra, where ladies ran eateries in their homes,” he recollected.
The locality then was considered an outskirts tucked away in the eastern fringe of the city and its alleys were dotted with tanneries. Over the years, the tanneries moved out and in their places, swanky Chinese restaurants came up, extending the fondness and attachment for gastronomists looking for the best Chinese food at reasonable rates. The food here these days is a unique blend of Cantonese and Indian cuisine.
For more authentic Chinese delicacies, the place to go now is Central Kolkata’s Tiretta Bazaar, or the Old Chinatown. Here, on a congested lane every morning from 7 am to 10.30 am, many Chinese residents spread out arrays of their breakfast menus. Snacks such as Youtiao (golden-brown deep-fried strips of dough) or Ham Jeen piang (fermented yeast dough batter) served there by street-side vendors are not amended for the Indian palate.
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