Before the onslaught of the food delivery apps, before world cuisine had taken over Calcutta, before new restaurants and cafes were popping up every week, a meal outside was reserved for special occasions. And, dinner in one of the restaurants in Tangra was extra special. A trip to Tangra has always felt like a journey to a different city altogether. The fort-like structures, the writings on the walls, the chatter: everything transports you to a different place. And yet, the dragon dance-off during the Chinese New Year happens in front of the Kali Temple.
Travelling to Tangra: A Trip Down Kolkata Chinatown
A few years back, a friend packed a bottle of water and some snacks to “travel” to Tangra and was pleasantly surprised when it just took a 10-minute auto ride to get there. For me, Tangra IS Calcutta’s Chinatown. Everyone has their favourite restaurant in Tangra and they will vehemently defend their choice.
You will find really big restaurants that can feed an entire village, like Beijing, Evergreen, Big Boss, Kim Ling, Lee Eating House, Golden Joy, Kafulok, D’ley, Kimfa, and more; but, you’ll also find hole-in-the-wall places like Ah Leung where Uncle Danny will rustle up some samosa chow just for you. The only thing always in common is going to be great food. Family get-togethers, friends’ reunion, a special date, everyone is here to celebrate. How can one resist the crispy prawn wafers, the red pepper chilli garlic chicken or the haka chilli shrimp that you can wash down with some ice cold beer? If you are feeling fancy you can try the steamed prawns or the roast duck too.
If you know where to look for it or how to ask for it, you can even have some chilli pork. Now, there are age-old debates about the authenticity of the Chinese food one finds in Calcutta. But guess what, this is “Authentic Calcutta Chinese” food. And it feels like home.
So next time you’re planning to treat yourself or your friends, take that auto ride for some golden joy.