when I travel to other cities, the first thing that I look for is, what are the best places to eat in that city. And that, I guess, is pretty normal. And so, as a very standard query, I get the same question back- “what is the best food in Kolkata? or what are the famous food joints in Kolkata?” Now as they say, “the answer my friend, is blowing in the wind” …. Being a food enthusiast in Kolkata, even that’s not easy for me to list out. So, I thought this time, why not have a listing for Kolkata food? No specific genre, no cuisine specific- but just best Kolkata food. And here it goes.
Best Kathi roll in Kolkata
If we have to find any icon for Kolkata non-sweet food, probably, it’ll be the Kathi Roll. Few meat pieces rolled in parantha (in some cases, laccha parota) creates some magic in Kolkattan minds. Basically, it’s an on-the-go-dish and both carbs and protein go in- and without dirtying hands, it’s great fun. And like any other bong, I am quite opinionated in this matter. But what are my favorite roll joints in town ? We had done an episode on our Web series on the same. Check it here …
Best Biryani in Kolkata
After Kathi roll, if we talk about a Kolkata food, it has to be biryani- period. Now, in this post, we’ll divide the biryani scenario in Kolkata into 2 broad aspects, Kolkata ishtyle, and Hyderabadi dum style. for Kolkata syle, I’ll check the following restaurants
- Shiraz, Mullikbazar crossing
- Royal, Chitpur
- Zeeshan, park circus
- Mezban- Rippon street
- India Hotel, khidderpore
- Dum Pukht, ITC sonar
For the adventurous types, the Hyderabadi biryani has also set foot in Kolkata, despite the biggie being here. I’ll check only 2 joints
Please understand, there are lots of other good biryani joints in Kolkata, but I find only the above mentioned discussable.
Best Sweets in Kolkata
So, as the Kolkata Kathi roll and biryani sections are taken over, let us talk about the item, for which Kolkata is famous world famous. And no brownie points for guessing that it is the sweets. Kolkata sweets can be broadly classified into few genres, like Sandesh , Rasogolla, Doi and fusion sweets. Yes, it’s varied, it’s distinct and I do have my own favorite list. so, please check the list in our web series called Foodka here.
But if you have plans of traveling to the outskirts of Kolkata, Fel Modak might be one of your best bets. Please check the place here.
Best Gujrati and Marwari food in Kolkata
But if sweets are discussed, can we really ignore the marwari sweets or rather the vegetarian street food options in burrabazar ? somehow, food in Burrabazar, Kolkata had always remained an enigma to me. Burrabazar is the trading hub of Kolkata and is flocked by thousands of Gujrati and Marwari traders and businessmen, among others. So, the food in Burrabazar is predominantly vegetarian fare (barring probably Royal India Hotel and Zakaria Street/ Colootola area) and more inclined towards some delicious gujrati and marwari specialty.
Recently I did one food walk in that part with Good Vegetarian Food group and below is my finding for it. Please check and let me know your preference.
Best Momo in Kolkata
Momo is an item, which has gained immense popularity in last few years. Momo means peach – in Japanese language. MoMos are conventionally of 3 types. Steamed, fried and pan fried. Traditionally, momos used to have 3 kinds of feeling- minced meat, minced potato and khowa. Later, cheese mokka came into play. Momos with one side braised on tawa is called Kothay.
In the 17th century, Momos came down from Tibetan highland, Lhasa to kathmandu by newari traders. And then were popularized like anything. Newari traders travelled between Lhasa and kathmandu via the Himalayan valley and it took 10-12 weeks. The newari traders settled in darjeeling, kalimpong, Gangtok , dharamshala and many other places. It might be interesting to know, that the first roadside momo stall, Tuladhar recalls, was seen in Kathmandu around 1942.
In Kolkata, definitely, momos made by Doma Wang are my favorite and the beef variety can be found at her restaurant, Shim shim. For pork variety though, you’ll have to check her other outlet called Blue Poppy Thakali at 4A, Middleton Street
But if we talk of Kolkata, can we really go forward not talking about Bengali food?
Best Bengali food in Kolkata
Being a bengali পেটুক, born in Kolkata, I have a certain mental blockage against eating Bengali food at a restaurant. I always calculate mentally which fish costs what at the fish market and what price I am paying for it at the eatery. Solely, due to this reason, I prefer a Pice Hotel than a posh “authentic Bengali restaurant” any day. And, here, I would love to mention a few of my favorites in the city.
Now, why its called a pice hotel? As far as my knowledge goes, this concept started a few decades back, in the era where things were available in paisa and then a full meal here (the basic ones) were available at the cost of a few paisa. Hence, people used to call them paisa hotel- pais hotel- pice hotel.
As food researcher Pritha sen says, “Pice hotels, also known as Bhaater hotel or Rice hotels were what were also termed Hindu hotels. They mushroomed sometime in the 1930s-40s as cheap eating houses set up to feed the hordes of daily-wage earners, students and babus who lived in the hostels and messes of Calcutta, far away from their homes in primarily East Bengal and therefore the food was primarily Bangaal, another reason why they have remained so low profile till the foodies discovered them a few years ago! The food was just like you would have at home, never knowing what your mother would put on the table, never knowing what fish your father would get back from his early morning with the accent on small fish and greens. The meals were served for 1/16th of a rupee (sholo anay ek taka) but everything had a price to it from the kola pata to the lebu with rice and dal being unlimited “
The list for my choice of pice hotels can be as follows:
- Sidheswari Ashram near New Market
- Tarun Niketan near Rashbehari More
- Young Bengal near Khiderpore fancy market
- Adarsha Hindu Hotel inside Gariahat Market
- Swadhin Bharat Hindu Hotel near Presidency University, College street
- Jaganmata Bhojanalay, Kailash Bose Street
Best Chinese food in Kolkata
By now you must have started cursing me on why I have not included chinese food in the list … yes, for last 150 + years, that has actually become a way of life here. When one broke Chinese businessman named Tom Achew had landed in what we called today as Achhipur, little did anybody know that probably the most loved cuisine in Kolkata was borne. Over the time, Chinese cuisine has gained such popularity among the local crowd, that it is almost impossible to beat it. The primary influence here has been of the Cantonese part of China food and we’ve customized them here as per our local palate. This is the story of one old school Chinese restaurant.
Now, I am a bit confused in this genre and sadly, I don’t have any compiled list of my favorites. But does it mean that I have none? Hell no. So, here are my favorites.
- Tung Nam , chhatawalla Gully near poddar court
- Eau chew- the oldest running chinese restaurant in town
- Nu wan li
- Chinoiserie, Taj Bengal
- Vintage Asia , J W Marriott Hotel
But, I had compiled my favorites for Outlook Traveller once and you can check it here.
But oops, did we just forget the Best Phuchka in Kolkata ?
Cabin culture in Kolkata
If we talk about Kolkata food, can we really ignore the cabins? I doubt. they’ve been there for last so many decades and have seen so many issues of love, friendship, despair. There have been multiple famous cabins in Kolkata and strangely, North Kolkata rules in that area. In South Kolkata, Cafe at Hazra More rules (you can read about it here) and we can design a not-so-small food walk around the North Kolkata lanes.
Best Bakery in Kolkata
Kolkata has got a rich influence of European and Anglo Indian cuisine. But my personal favorite is one of the oldest Jewish bakeries in town called Saldanha bakery. Now, there goes around a story in Kolkata gastronomic circuit that the best traditional anglo-Indian cakes are found not in fancy hotels, but in few homes, and over the period of time, they’ve become legends. Many have heard of the name, but few have actually been there, here’s the story. And if you’re looking for a complete compilation, do check it at Foodka winter special episode here.
Best Breakfast in Kolkata
Kolkata has a culinary history of more than a couple of centuries and out of which, more than two hundred years was under the rulership of the British. So, an English breakfast in Kolkata is a pretty obvious choice. But what about the Mughlai breakfast? After all, before the British arrived, they were the ones ruling India. And not to forget our favorite cuisine – the Chinese breakfast …
English breakfast in Kolkata- The Bakery Lalit Great Eastern
This is becoming a long long list. And for a culturally complex and cosmopolitan city like Kolkata, probably it’s pretty obvious. But can we really ignore the typical foreign food joints here? Especially the cult favorites like Italian or the unusual one like Russian or Parsi?
Best Italian food in Kolkata
Let us be honest. Pizza is a weakness– for me and my son at least. My wife stays silent in this regard, but with the enthusiasm, she attacks her slice, probably is its same even for her. Now, as the experts say, getting a good authentic pizza is pretty difficult in Kolkata. But, as I’ve never been to Italy, so I can’t vouch for any outlet serving authentic pizza. But what I can do, is to talk about one joint which is serving the best pizza in town, as per me.
Best Russian food in town
For a middle-aged bong like me, Russia means primarily the Russian folktale books. When I was a kid, they used to come pretty cheaply, like some 10/- a piece and I still remember myself returning from the book fair with few packets full of them. But, times change and in my youth, another Russian thing, where I found interest, is the Russian TV channel TV-6 or TB-6. Let me be honest, it used to broadcast Tom-And-Jerry-show-For-Adults in midnight- literally. But, it took me long enough to understand that there can be another interesting segment called Russian Food and that’s not boring either. And here is probably the only Russian food joint in town.
Best parsi food in Kolkata
Of all the Indian cuisines, parsi cuisine is one of the most underrated one. As per the history and Quissa-E-Sajangoes (and as usual, I’m extremely bad with both), parsi community came down to India during around 8th century and settled in the western coast. The cuisine is, for some reason unknown, very closely guarded and kept secret only to the community. As I could find out from my Mumbai stay experience, the food is prepared using the “Khatto-Meetho” philosophy– which means a little of sweet and little sour in taste. And in reality, the dishes are neither too spicy, nor too sweet (barring off course, the desserts). Fish and meat are heavily used along with the staple dose of rice and Pao. Probably, this is due to the fact that the Parsi population in India is slowly diminishing.
So, there is this place called Mancherjis in Kyd Street which serves some regular stuff and Meher Hansotia (can be connected at 9831403863 / 033-22116311) serves some authentic superb stuff from Parsi Dharamshala (a pre-order take-away joint only)
But can we understand a city by only visiting restaurants? I guess not. There are gems hidden in the nooks and corners of Kolkata for best Kolkata Street food. One needs to walk along the streets to find the hidden gems and wonders. And if you are really interested, please check my blog section for Food walk here.
Dacres Lane- the blue-eyed boy of Kolkata foodwalk
And finally, let me introduce you to the blue-eyed boy of Kolkata food-walk. This place is at the central Kolkata (Google location) and at the hub of office para. But apart from some great street-food and the legendary shop of Chitto Da and Suruchee, it has got an interesting history. Around 200 years back, Philip miner Dacres used to meet sailors over great meals, hence the name. Later on, it was changed to James Augustus Hicky, the Irishman who launched the first printed newspaper in Asia- hickey’s Bengal gadget. This year, honorary US Consulate asked us, team Foodka, to take US chef Kelly Cox on a food-walk there. And here is the experience.
So, here we are finally, with my choice of the best Kolkata food. But I can assure you that this list will be updated- times and again.
Few items which I could not discuss in details here, can be found below …
- Officepara bar culture
- Roadside biryani
- Best Kolkata styled continental food – Mocambo near Park Street is definitely recommended here, and I’ll update this blog post soon
- Best modern veg restaurant
- Best inspiring cafe in Kolkata
Meanwhile, do let us know in the comment on that would you like to include or what you’re looking at – for Best Kolkata food … This blog post will be updated soon. So, do stay tuned with Mohamushkil.
Bon apetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome …
A very useful list indeed!
What would be your favorite place for bengali mutton curry?
I like Sidheswari Ashram and Aaheli, personally
Such an exhaustive list. feast for the eyes literally!