Chilli pork is one of my most favorite dishes. Even, let me take the liberty of saying, that it is the playboy of Chinese cuisine. Yes, intentionally, I am not using the word Oriental cuisine- because the chilli pork that we know today is said to have originated from a particular region in China and not any other country. But that story will come later. But chilli pork or rather Dry Chilli pork can go with almost anything- be it some steamed rice, Hakka / gravy noodles or just like that- with rum as a sidekick. And like every opinionated bong, I have got my favorite places for Chilli pork in Kolkata- each having different reasons. And here is the listing.
What do I look for
I look for a few pointers for a chilly Pork to be a great chilly Pork. Firstly, I prefer lean meat and badly. I do not like to pay for eating pork fat. Maybe a 70:30 lean meat to fat ration is okay, but that’s about it. A good cut of lean meat from the shoulder is what I crave for. If I want to have Pork Belly, it’s a different game, but not the fat in my Chilli Pork. Secondly, I prefer meat and chilly and an overdose of some sauce, onion, capsicum, Dinosaur’s tail, and blah blah blah simply put me off. I am opinionated, but that’s just me. Chilli Pork for me is dry Chilli pork. I prefer to have those lovely slices with chilly dry-styled with rice, but no gravy for me, please.
And finally, consistency works big-time for me. I may love a dish or hate it somewhere and I am no master to comment whether it’s good or bad. I can only say whether I like it personally or not. But it should be consistent over a period of time … these are the very few pointers that I look for and my city doesn’t normally disappoint me. Last but not least, many cuisines have got their variant of chilly pork. After all, who can forget the Naga Chilli Pork with Bhut Jolokia or the Koorgi styled spicy pork? It’s pork cooked with chilly- simple. But I have got a few personal favorites.
I’ll talk on the chinese style of cooking in the following paragraph and will basically flaunt my collected knowledge. Please feel free to skip, if you have less time in hand …
Some Gyan (as usual)
The chilli pork, as we know today, is basically double cooked pork. Either the pork meat is cooked with various spices and then stir-fried, or it’s roasted and then finished on a wok. Another dish named Double Fried Chilli pork involves the meat to be sliced, boiled and then deep fried. And then, it’s finished with veggies or chilly or whatever the chef wishes. This style of cooking is said to be originated from the sichuan-style of cooking from China. It is one of the four major classic cooking styles from the region.
- Shandong: It involves fresh broths and bao. Most of the soup that we see today in Chinese cuisine, comes from this region.
- Huaiyang: This cooking style puts utmost importance to the cut of the material used and is mostly sweet-ish in taste. The dishes from this region is almost never spicy. It has lots of dishes using fish and seafood.
- Cantonese cuisine: Coming from a trading hub as a region, Cantonese cuisine had the influence of the best of the Chinese masters. a number of sauces are used here like Oyster Sauce, Hoisin sauce, Black bean sauce etc. The food that we enjoy here in Kolkata, is mostly influenced by this region.
- And Sichuan: The hot spicy stir-fried food that we see today as Chinese food, is mostly from this region. But surprisingly, this cuisine never had any dish named Schezuwan Chicken/ Pork/ Fish … LOL
I am biased for this place and this place had to come first. Sorry, but I can’t help mention the oldest running Chinese restaurant of Kolkata. Eau Chew means “Europe” in Chinese. The founders of this place opened it up when there was a European thriving in this area and hence the name. The current patrons – Mr. Joel Huang and Ms. Doren Huang are the fourth generations of the family tree running the place. Still, the entire food is cooked by the family members and only the mise-en-place is done by cooks/ helpers. Apart from the Josephine Noodles/ rice and not-so-great Chimney Soup, this place makes a killer Roast Chilli Pork. Even, on prior order, they can actually make a whole steamed Bekti and serve it with sliced ginger and some rice wine-flavored sauce.
The taste may vary, but if you love your Chilli pork to be rustic and fiery, prepared with very few ingredients, this is your place. Yes, I understand that on some days when he’s not in a good mood, the taste is good (not great). But if you befriend Doren and Joel, you can get probably the best Roast Chilli pork. Please check the making of roast chilli Pork and check the ingredients carefully to understand what I mean.
Hong Kong Kankurgacchi
Except for the old-timers, many have not even heard of this place. It is a Chinese restaurant situated on the main road, just when you’re crossing Kankurgachhi more and going towards Ultadanga. The good part is that it’s almost never crowded and waiters are almost sleeping- the typical old-school service still prevails here. They do not want to socialize with guests and do not want to market themselves. But what they do is what they’re supposed to do. They make probably the best chilly pork that I’ve tasted in Kolkata for a very very long time.
Unlike other places, here, it’s a love story between just the pork and chilly and nothing in else matters. The meat used is lean meat and that definitely makes me happy. Green chilies are diced in thick pieces and tossed with some star-anise and black-pepper flavored sauce with that meat. It’s simply brilliant. Even the pan-fried noodles are good, but the Chilli Pork here is simply at another level.
This place usually serves me the best Chilli Pork, that I’ve tasted, in Kolkata
Pao Chien Gariahat
Pao Chien is another place in Gariaht, which had stood the taste of time. Once someone goes towards Triangular Park from Gariahat crossing, one branch of Standard Chartered Bank will come on the left-hand side. Take that lane and Pao Chien is the second building on left. The exterior is non-descript. And it’s free from the outside hustle and bustle of the outside mad rush. The AC is always chilled and the tables are mostly available.
The Chilli Pork here is slightly over-laden with Sauce. But the good part is the cut of the meat. The meat is taken as a mix-up of fatty and lean meat and that makes all the difference. With every bite, you can feel a nice mix of lean meat and fat. Please trust me, this simple thing is a rarity nowadays in Kolkata. Due to supply or pricing or whatever, most of the places use an almost 70:30 fat to meat ratio and it simply disgusts me. Pao Chien also makes a damn good Pork Noodle Soup, which really goes well with the Chilly Pork. The aroma of the simple soup actually helps wash down the fiery pork and I simply love it. If you have not tried this place, please go at least once.
Hatari is a pretty old restaurant and we used to be a regular at their triangular park outlet. But here, I’m talking of the VIP Road Kaikhali outlet of Hatari. Let me be honest, I haven’t been to this place physically and Uber Eats or Swiggy does the job for me for lunch at my office at Beliaghata. Besides, they offer a cool discount and it’s a known secret that I’m a sucker for discounts.
Now for the Chilli Pork, the differentiator is the portion size. Hatari has always been generous with their portion sizes, but this is huge. One portion of chilly Pork here is almost the same as 1.5 portions elsewhere. The meat is cut in thick slices and most of the pieces consist of a 30:70 fat to meat ratio. while the fat takes care of keeping the meat soft, lean meat added to the taste. the dish is slightly heavy with sauce, very unlike to Eau Chew or Nu Wan Li, but the taste made up for it.
Nu Wan Li
Again, this is one of those shabby looking old-school restaurants in Hazra Road, south Kolkata. While they excel at their Noodle selection or rather their cold noodles or Lo Mein, the Chilli Pork is no mean feat. It is again a love story between mostly lean pork and chilly with minimal interference of sliced onion. Use of sauce is less here and that sets this place apart. Food presentation is never their strong point and the dish generally looks messy, but normally taste makes up for it.
Many of you might cringe and even start cursing me because I’ve not included the cult Tung Nam in this listing. But, please trust me, I do not like the Dry Chilli Pork at tung Nam. I still swear by their chilli Garlic Pork or Pork with Hamei Sauce. But, no- not the Chilli Pork. It’s too saucy and too much onion slices are there for my palate. I’ve been a patron for tung Name for last one decade, but nothing doing.
I’ve heard great things about this small joint named How Hua. It’s a small placed on 2 min walking distance from Lords More. Honestly, I’ve not been to How Hua, but got it delivered via a delivery partner. And I must say, I am blown. The Chilly Pork is simply the best after Hong Kong, as far as I’ve tasted. There’s just hand-shredded lean pork and finely sliced chilly. The dish is very very less oily and a nice rustic touch is there. Those who like fat in their pork, please avoid this dish here. But, this is something, on which great things are written of. And please don’t get me wrong. The reason for it coming second is, it’s a bit extra-dry, or that’s the way the chef likes it.
Taste is a subjective issue and I’m sure I’ve missed many other great places. Please let me know about other great places for Chilly Pork in the comments section and let’s visit them together someday. this blog post will definitely be updated in future. BTW, one of the best Roast chilli Pork that I’ve had is in Darjeeling- Kunga’s and I still remember that rustic fiery aftertaste.
Bon apetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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