Kolkata is a melting pot of cultural diversity. It has embraced migrants from different parts of the world and made them it's own. One such community is the Chinese community that first set foot in the city during British rule. Since it was the capital of the country many Chinese families got attracted to settle here. And that is how the populous Chinese settlement came into existence in the central part of Kolkata. In this episode, we are on a journey to explore some of the popular street foods across the Chinese settlements including Tiretta Bazar and Tangra. To guide us about the locality, cultural scenes, and food, we were joined by our gracious and dynamic host Pamela Das.
We started the tour early in the morning from Teritta Bazar. The place is known for the daily morning street market where one can find numerous traditional Chinese breakfast items. These are mostly prepared and sold by the Chinese families living in the locality. On Sundays, the crowd swells up with food enthusiasts thronging the place for pork baos, sui pao, sauces, and condiments, etc. Our picks included pork bao, rice pudding, fried rice balls, sweet crispy rajma stuffed bun, pork pastry, meatball soup, and prawn papad. Of these, the best thing was the sweet rajma stuffed buns and the least pleasant one was the meatball soup as it was too bland.
After the heavy breakfast, we moved to Tangra which is known as the new Chinatown. Apart from the numerous factories and units, this place had earned the reputation of being a hub for great traditional Chinese food. Most of the iconic eateries over here are family-run. Though their ambiance is unpretentious, their food is much coveted. Here we tried wonton noodles or the singhara chow as the Bengalis call it, at two different places. In the first place, we saw how the noodles were being prepared using a tedious, ancient noodle-making technique which was so fascinating. In the second place, the wonton noodles were a bit more flavourful and robust.
After that hearty wonton trail, we arrived at our final destination Eau Chew which is deemed as the oldest family-run eatery in the city. Here we tried two of their hot-selling dishes named Chimney Soup and Josephine Noodles. The sensational names got us excited. Chimney soup was a lightly seasoned broth containing eggs, chicken, prawn and vegetables. The unique thing about this dish is the brass vessel in which it was served. It has burning charcoal inside it. There was a chimney-like outlet through which the heat and smoke escaped. Josephine noodles on the other hand was pan fried noodles that had miscellaneous ingredients. Both the dishes were super yummy. With that hearty meal and warm conversations with the owners at Eau Chew, we came to the end of this delightful tour. See you soon.
*Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer. Although there have been reports of adverse reactions caused by MSG, notably the so-called “Chinese restaurant syndrome”, however, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that MSG has any adverse effects on the general population in the amounts normally consumed as part of the diet. Glutamates occur naturally in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables.