Till few years back, most of us Kolkattans had an idea that Chinese (rest of the oriental cuisine was out of reach then …) food is all about a soup (mostly the meatiest heavy one), some noodles or fried rice (of course the mixed variety) and loads of meat or seafood dishes and chilly chicken/ prawn/ fish was a must. But, with time, as our palates started getting refined and we used to get exposure on other items, things started changing. Now, for any Chinese food lover, the importance of bao can’t be looked upon. Similarly, many of us still get confused about the difference between a dim sum, wanton, momo and sui mai is still a not-so-familiar term. So, when Pou Chong (yes, the sauce company) opened their dim sum outlet in Kasba silently a month back, I personally expected some neat home-styled Chinese food … and here’s my experience.
A bit of history of Pou Chong
Mr. Lee Shih Chuan was a third generation Chinese Indian born and bought up in Kolkata. His grandfather and father were herbal doctors. In 1958, he established Pou Chong with a humble beginning. He took over an old sauce factory in Tangra, Kolkata, and started making the special sauces with Chinese herbs to the many Chinese Indians living in Kolkata Chinatown. Slowly he started mixing Indian herbs with the Chinese and blended it to create a unique flavor to suit the people in Kolkata. Thus green chili sauce was created by him. In the course of time, many different sauces were introduced. Kolkata’s most popular Kati rolls, Chowmein, Chilli Chicken, etc and the world-famous Indian Chinese Hakka cuisine cannot be completely bursting with rich flavors and unique taste without the combination of Pou Chong sauces.
A good sauce with its attractive color, fragrant flavor, and distinctly delicious taste is the soul of any good dish, fit to please a fastidious gourmet’s sense of sight, smell and taste. A good sauce dramatically transforms a bland, tasteless dish into a spectacularly flavorful fare. So deliciously appetizing that it not only tickle all the taste buds in the tongue of a discerning connoisseur, but its pleasant aroma and distinct flavor satiate even the fussiest and keen food lover. Pou Chong religiously strives to maintain its goodwill with its tongue-tickling, tasty sauces to keep its dedicated fans happy for so many years. Pou Chong is ISO 22000: 2005 and FSSAI certified company.
(*** this bit of history and the above photographs are collected from the current owner Janice Lee *** )
And, let’s come back to 2018
Let’s be honest, Pou Chong is one of the oldest (or probably THE oldest operating Chinese sauce producing company in Kolkata. But, this piece is not on their sauce business, it’s one their take away joint in Kasba- Ming Dimsum.
The location is still not updated in Google (I’ll try to do it shortly). So, if you go towards Gariahat from The Gateway Hotel, on your left, you’ll come across this restaurant called 6 Bullygunge Place Thali and Pou Chong is just 2 shops away from that place. It’s a blink-and-miss place and one needs to really look for it while driving and searching for it. the outlet is open every day from 9 AM- 10 PM.
It’s basically meant to be a take-away joint, but few tools and one table is there for those desperate souls like me, who like their food fresh from the steamer. So, on my first visit, my order was simple, one Bar B Qued Pork Bao. Now, here, the process is, after order, the cook the dish and serve it, hence, the average service time is 10 min. The bao is priced at 50/-. Now, I am used to having those huge fat skinned baos from tangra and teritti bazaar Chinese breakfast joints. The basic problem of them is, the filling is less and the outer layer is pretty heavy, so all one can taste is the freshly steamed bao (but very less meat).
Here, however, the story is different. The outer layer is thin and light. So, once you take it off, you can find bar-be-qued small pork cubes (mostly lean meat). The filling is not very spicy and one can easily enjoy 2 at one go. So, this, in all probability, will change your concept of a bao. This dish is a definite recommendation at this place.
The next order was this thing called FPM balls in hot soup. Yes, like you, my first reaction was WTF ….. But, then, being the stone-headed that I am, it got upon me that it means Fish-Pork-Mushroom balls in Hot Soup. Let me be honest. Here, the light soup in fantastic. And for the Tung Nam loyalists, they serve the same thing at Tung Nam named Vegetable Clear Soup (priced at 30/-, it goes pretty well with those Steamed Wantons ).
Now, for any F&B joint, it’s always a good gesture to keep your customers happy. Here, when the server poured the soup into the soup bowl for serving, some extra was left at the saucepan. And, he asked “Sir, once you finish, I can offer you some more soup. I am sorry it’s a small bowl” A lovely gesture, which is rare in today’s world. They serve 6 balls in one portion. Frankly, though it tasted lovely, I couldn’t find much of the porky flavor there. Maybe, the smell of fish and chopped mushroom was a bit overpowering. However, at 140/-, it’s damn good.
And, on my second visit, the order was very much pre-determined. It had to be their Sui Mai. And, pork sui mai it was. But, frankly, I was a bit shocked at what was served to me. 6 pcs of one of the juiciest and softest sui mai I’ve ever had in Kolkata. The shapes were perfect, and the filling was having a very light lovely flavor of meat and maybe … garlic. And, once you go there, DO NOT miss these beauties.
I am also told they prepare some frozen momos, which can be brought back home, and kept in freezer for long use. But, I am yet to taste them.
Now, If you’re still confused over momo, dimsum, dumpling and wanton, read on …
- So, Dimsum, as per the hong kong vocabulary, means a bite-sized food. It probably originated in Cantonese province in Guangzhou. And, traditionally, dim sums are mostly consumed with tea
- Dumpling is a type of dim sum with the semi-transparent outer layer (mostly made with rice flour). The filling is mostly pork or chicken and these have to be steamed. they can be further categorized as Jiaozi and Baozi. Jiaozi is the smaller version and is served with chilly oil, whereas Baozi is much bigger in size and can be generally referred to as the Bao
- Wanton is typically a Jiaozi in a soup. They tend to be of such a size, that can be fitted in one tablespoon
- And finally, Momo is a Tibetan food- period. The outer layer is quite thought unlike Jiaozi and they are, in size, somewhere in between Jiaozi and Baozi
So, bon appetite and let me know for any other recommendations.
Comments and critics welcome.
I can be reached at 9903528225 / firstname.lastname@example.org