Young Bengal (16/2, Karl Marx Sarani, Kidderpore, Kolkata)


In a nutshell:

A pice hotel opened in 1930s, that still serves authentic Bengali food made from fresh ingredients. If u r in Kolkata and want to try local food as it is cooked at home, either get invited to someone’s home or visit here.

Address & other details:  Young Bengal

Meal for 2: 300 onwards

Cuisine type :  vegetarian & non-vegetarian

Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.

The entrance
The entrance

We paid Rs 674. No bill.

I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.

Short description – in case u r in a hurry:

Yes, u read it right – Pice hotel. ‘Pice’ was a currency denomination in colonial India. This ‘Pice hotel’ concept was common in that era where every item had to be paid for separately, including salt, onions and lemon wedges. Nowadays they serve salt on the house but rest r still charged.

A white board showing rates to be charged for lemon, banana leaf etc
A white board showing rates to be charged for lemon, banana leaf etc

‘Young Bengal’ movement happened nearly a century before this restaurant opened. It seems the founder was inspired during the centenary celebrations.

It is a 1930s restaurant & nothing much seems to have changed inside. Even the signboard on the façade is completely worn out & faded.

The sign board
The sign board

As we entered the gate, we landed in a courtyard, beyond which there was a thatched roof building in which this restaurant is located.

Before you enter the dining area
Before you enter the dining area

The interiors had some old framed press coverage of this restaurant. The furniture was wood & marble.

Framed newspaper cutting inside the hotel
Framed newspaper cutting inside the hotel

Office goers eat here regularly, doctors from nearby hospital, police, army, dock employees, businessmen in the area. Once in a while during occasions do they get people from outside the neighbourhood coming to eat here. However they get NRIs, foreigners etc also as customers who come here after reading on internet.

The dining area
The dining area

A popular crowd sourced food rating site has a rating of 2.8/5 for it which clearly shows that real bong food lovers have not been here. That rating is as impossible as a 30 yr old man saying he does not enjoy sex.

An old gramophone kept inside the hotel
An old gramophone kept inside the hotel

Bengali food is subtle – quite opposite of North Indian food. One has to develop the taste and appreciation. Please avoid this restaurant if ‘subtle food’ appears to b bland to u. If u appreciate East Indian food, u wud love it.

Food is home like – with not ‘on the face masalas’, fresh ingredients and a tinge of sweet – as in ‘ghoti’ homes.

For the uninitiated, ‘bangal’ was the term used to describe Hindu families who migrated from east Bengal in early to mid 1900s and ‘ghoti’ referred to the original inhabitants of West Bengal.

Staff was not in uniform. Nice & warm people who took immense care of us when we were dining.

There is no menu card. Items were hand written with marker on a whiteboard.

Menu of the day written on a white board
Menu of the day written on a white board

Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Mochar ghonto with chingri ( banana flower curry with shrimps). It was like home made but as on the day guests r coming, the mom wud make it a bit spiced up (yet not on the face). Tinge of sweet, crunchy mocha tasted yumm. Flavours of masalas made their presence felt. Rate it 4.5/5.

Mochar ghonto with chingri
Mochar ghonto with chingri

We next tried Pui shak chorchori with macher muro (pui leaves curry with fish head). The curry was intense, robust, rustic. It had pungency of mustard oil & had burnt feel that added flavour. Fish flavour permeated the curry. The dish was excellent. Rate it 4.5/5.

Pui shak chorchori with macher muro
Pui shak chorchori with macher muro

Dal was super simple with ‘barely there’ spices. It was thin and yumm. Soul food for many Bengalis. Rate it 4.25/5.

Dal
Dal

Aloo bhaja (fried potato) was perfect match stick size and shape. It was crispy and perfectly salted. No more value additions. Just like home. It was not freshly made and served but was made sometime bk / I guess 30 mins bk. had it been freshly made, wud hv rated it 4.5/5. As it is, Rate it 4.25/5

Aloo bhaja
Aloo bhaja

Dhokhar dalna (curry of lentil cakes) had strong asafoetida flavour that was enjoyable. It was not hard and was not crumbling away either. Perfect texture. A hint of sweet, salt and hot were very well balanced. Loved the gravy as well. Rate it 4.25/5.

Dhokar dalna
Dhokar dalna

Fish Paturi (fish wrapped in banana leaf) was excellent. It was not made in shorshey bata (mustard paste) but with onion, ginger , garlic paste.

Fish Paturi
Fish Paturi

The marinade was brown in color, had a sweetish tinge, was somewhat hot and marvellous to eat. Juices of the fish amalgamated with the marination. The fish was flaky, juicy and yumm. Excellent overall. Rate it 4.75/5.

Fish paturi
Fish paturi

Parshey shorshey was very good as well. The fish itself was fresh and very good. It was soft and yumm, inspite of the fact that it was deep fried a bit over optimally. The gravy was not extremely pungent but was pretty well balanced. Rate this dish 4.25/5.

Parshe Shorshe
Parshey Shorshey

Chingri malay curry was not a true blue Malay curry but a very nice prawn curry. It didn’t have the  coconut milk base. However the gravy was flavourful and very tasty. Flavours of both prawns and spices made their presence felt. The prawn was tasty but a bit rubbery. Rate the dish 4.25/5.

Chingri Malai curry
Chingri Malai curry

Mutton kosha was not a mutton kosha the way we r used to eating at commercial joints.  It was a great home style mutton jhol. Rate it 4.25/5

Mangsho Kosha
Mangsho Kosha

We also tried pulao – mild sweet, soft independent grains of rice, with cashew in it. Nice, flavorful & tasty on its own. Rate it 4/5.

Pulao
Pulao

Tomato chutney (pronounced by server as tomatom) was very good. Tinge of sweet, sour & salt. Rate it 4.25/5.

Tomato chutney
Tomato chutney

Mango chutney was sweet & sour, with a tinge of salt. Loved it & ordered an extra bowl. Rate it 4.25/5.

Mango chutney
Mango chutney

The overall rating of food at Young Bengal averages out to 4.3/5

However the joy of eating here is way beyond rating.

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