From the so touristy hustle and bustle, a trip to Kalimpong was such a welcome change for us. Yes, we tend to or at least try to travel to North Bengal at least once a year. and this time, it was to Kalimpong. Now, Kalimpong is one of those underrated hill stations, which tend to shy away from the limelight. And though the food scene at Kalimpong is pretty good, it never gets the praise which it should get. And, I’ll try to talk about the Kalimpong food here. I am sure, I’ve missed quite a few jewels and I’ll try to update in subsequent posts.
But before Kalimpong, let me talk of this small hamlet called Pabung. It’s around 1.5 hours driving distance from the Kalimpong town and although the facility at this Chitrakoot Homestay is pretty basic, the view was fantastic. If you do not expect much, please get in touch with Biplab Dey@ 9733454779 / 8967928334 for booking. The charges are 1200/- per person per meal including all meals.
The next place was much scenic and I’d really love to go there. Now, I am not very sure that while talking on Kalimpong food, why I am describing these places, but this is worth a visit. This is tucked inside a jungle, 10 km from the ghum railway station and is called Rainbow Valley Resort. Please don’t get fooled by the 10 km distance. It’s actually offroading and the driving time is close to 45 min. But once you reach, it’s fabulous. Rooms are pretty well maintained and the owner Mr. Saimon is there all the time. Please contact the website mentioned to book this place. Our duplex was priced at 3500/- for 4 beds and was well worth it.
Regarding food, they go by their daily package of 600/- per person for 4 meals. The menu is pretty decent, with egg at one main meal and chicken on the other. During evening snacks, they religiously put up a campfire and sausage/ momo and tea is served. And you don’t need to do anything there. If you’re hyperactive a one-hour trek to Rainbow Falls is something you should do- else just sit there with your favorite cup of tea, books and enjoy the scene. On special request, the owner made some Pork curry for us. While the taste was great, the fat percentage was not really suited to my preference. Well, you can’t have all the happiness in life …
And finally, Kalimpong
You must be cursing me on why I’ve not spent a single word on Kalimpong yet. And here it is. It’s a small sleepy, sloppy town. You need to go and get your dinner by 730 PM. Yes, you read it right. Because everything gets shut down by 830 PM. And unless your hotel has got an eatery, you’re stuck up badly.
At Kalimpong, We booked a service apartment named Orchid Suite Homestay. And it was a great decision. The place is just 10 min walking distance from the main market and just beside the road. The rooms were perfect for a small family and facilities were damn good. For local traveling, taxis are there, which go on a sharing basis, as well as full reservation.
And now comes the famous Gompus. Now, Gompus (started as a confectionery for war veterans) is one of those places, on which great things are written. It’s probably the oldest operational restaurant in Kalimpong and is a landmark in itself. Mr. Gompu shiring started this place during the 1920s. Mr. Sonam Gompu is the 3rd generation owner running it and is called as an encyclopedia on Kalimpong. We’ve shot a small video on his, or rather Kalimpong story.
It was a short stay for us at Kalimpong and we went to Gompus for breakfast. what started with just a bakery & confectionery for war veterans, around a century back, is now one of the landmarks of Kalimpong. It’s one of those old school restaurants. Large laced windows, basic wooden sitting, and good food. You can just sit there with a mug of tea and some momo and let the busy world pass by. You don’t need to hurry for anything. I haven’t stayed in the rooms, so can’t comment.
Let me be clear, the food is excellent. I believe in a clear policy to ask the server what he wants to serve and it worked wonders here. We were suggested chicken cutlet. Okay, I was a bit taken aback. In Kolkata, we are used to having cutlet over an afternoon or evening snacks. But seems the food scene at Kalimpong is a bit different. But it was a superb choice. This coating, a properly minced, perfectly seasoned cutlet is rare to find in Kolkata even. And I must admit that this place served me one of the best chicken cutlets that I’ve tasted in recent times. It was not laden with rubbish like coriander, but the taste of meat could be felt. Definitely recommended.
Along with cutlet, came the pork wanton soup. And frankly, even this was a gem. The kitchen team at Gompus was well trained in using minimal spices and hence, we could actually taste the actual meat and stock. The seasoning was done with black pepper and it was a lovely start of a meal. We took a portion of chowmin for my mother in law and it was simply okay-ish and definitely nothing special. My wife makes better stuff.
Momo at Gompus
I was told to have the momo at Gompus. Now let me be honest. It’s very different from what we are used to getting here in Kolkata. In Kolkata, the goodness of a momo depends on how fine the outer coating is. But it’s an entirely different story here. At Gompus, they use yeast for the dough and it’s more towards a Bao than a momo. The good part is, the fat from the juicy meat goes in those thick casing, turning them into something superb. The coating actually has a taste of their own. At around 930 Am, the first lot of momos are churned out and you should definitely taste the first lot. The filling is good or rather what is should be- a good mix of coarsely minced meat and onion, with very fewer spices- what else do you want?
Now, apart from Gompus, there are two more places that I’d love to talk about- Cafe Kalimpong and Art Cafe. But they deserve another blog post. Till then, do let me know about your favorite food joints up to the hill.
Bon apetit !!!
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