Let me confess. Many of us have that dream where we run a restaurant single-handedly and create our own brand. We’ve all liked those small joints in European movies- right? But sadly, it takes an insane amount of guts to be one. Welcome to Cup e bong Kalikapur- a small joint tucked inside a lane. A cafe with a decent parking facility. And here is the story of Amit – the lone warrior.
This is a story of his struggle- rather an inspirational story for all of us.
Cup e bong- in today’s time
A few months back (or was it a year ?), I was hearing a lot about this place called Khaiber Cafe in Jadavpur. Supposedly, it was a shop on the footpath, but serving modern exceptional food. And the place was being run by a non-restauranteur person- Amit Halder. Collected the details and called him up one fine morning for the direction. “Sorry sir, we’re relocating- can you come after a fortnight please ?” was the reply. Fair enough …
Menu Card JFM 2109 – please check the menu here …
Cut 2: A new cafe in town emerged named Cup e bong in Kalikapur. Ad surprisingly, this cafe is also being run by one single man. And my friend Sunando took me to the cafe one day to meet Amit Halder. It’s a small cafe, basically a 1 BHK flat, tastefully converted into a cafe with parking space for a couple of vehicles on road. AC is there and there is a basic ambiance- warm enough to welcome you. Please feel free to be amazed at the handpainted rum bottles- being used as water bottles. Welcome to Cup e Bong.
Khaiber Cafe- in the flashback
Amit Halder used to work in an MNC- normal person like us- normal dreams, a regular family. But as in movies, his company had suddenly decided to shut down its operations in India and the employees were released with a 2 month notice period. Being a regular middle-class Bengali, he started looking for other options, but sadly nothing really clicked. And eventually, he took over one of his friend’s food stalls in Jadavpur named Khaiber Cafe.
Please imagine someone, who was used to lead a team of professionals in an MNC, in this scene- nothing short of an inspirational movie, I must say. But I am told, the man could cook and cook really well. People loved that cafe. It was even without electricity, but then that was the rustic charm. It grew in business volume and one of his friends asked him to use his space in Kalikapur for cafe- Cup e Bong was born.
Please check the pics of Khaiber Cafe here
Cut to modern times
Well, this is the story Amit likes to tell or even you can check his Josh Talks episode on the same, (link at the end of the post). But for me, being the typical snooty cranky bong, who doesn’t understand anything beyond food, would love to talk only on his food. As I told before, Amit has a lovely selection of Tea and Coffee. And being the lone ranger who does everything from taking the order to preparing the food to even serving it to the table, it’s always a pleasure to have a word with him while the food is getting ready. And to start with, we ordered the cold brew and some handmade pork sausages to start with.
Cold Brew and Pork sausage
The cold brew was pretty good- with a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans, it was decently strong and I quite liked it. Maybe the floating ice cubes didn’t add any value, but what the heck … The pork sausage at Cup e Bong was in fact awesome. 6 pcs of well-endowed sausage, sauteed in its lard and served with a side of vegetables and homemade mustard mayo- it can’t really go wrong. The sausage quality (god knows from where he had sourced it) was fantastic and I was surely missing my rum. Damn good stuff. A pat or massage with some tissue might have helped wipe the excess fat, but who am I to comment on gluttony?
The next dish that we were suggested, was strangely named- Paritosh. It was basically a wrap with loads of pork chunks sauteed with onion and bell peppers with some grated cheese. The reliable mustard mayo was there on the side. The meat was a lovely mix of fat and lean meat and I quite liked the combo. The dish is quite messy and if you’re if you don’t like getting your fingers messy, a skill with cutleries might come in handy. It’s quite heavy and one portion is good for a full meal for one person.
And the chilly pork
As I told, I am a typical bong and no matter whatever I taste, I come back to my eternal favorite- the chilly Pork and Cop e Bong was no exception. And the chilly pork was different from the usual stuff. It’s pulled pork cooked with loads of capsicum, onion and chilly (probably sourced from the hills). The meat was cured brilliantly and had a good fat to meat ratio. Overall, the dish was damn interesting, though I was missing some sticky rice- that’s just me.
Some unnecessary strands of spring onion were there, but I guess that can be customized. It has a good amount of lard, adding to the taste. Health freaks, please be aware, whereas, lard lovers- cheers !!! The meat was super soft and I love the dish just for that.
My personal take
I liked the food at Cup e bong. I won’t say, they have the best food in town, but definitely, it’s amongst the good ones. But but but, in my life, rarely I’ve witnessed a man multitasking this efficiently and I sincerely salute him for his courage and skill. I still don’t figure out how he’ll scale up and what he’ll do the day he felt sick. But I guess those are just problems, one gets to imagine sitting in somewhere 10,000 ft above the ground level.
Amit is a warrior and I guess he needs our support. I’m surely going to visit his place again soon and do try it. Give him honest feedbacks and help him sustain his venture.
Address of the cafe:
98, Kalitala Rd, behind Only Alibaba, Kalikapur Rd, near Bank of India, Haltu, Kolkata, West Bengal 700078
Bon Appetit !!!
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