This is a part of series on decades old pice hotels of kolkata where almost nothing has changed over time and they still serve freshly made food from catch of the day and usually serve at cheap prices as compared to any restaurant
In a nutshell:
A 80 year old pice hotel that has the original eatery intact and has added a new air conditioned section, has efficient , fast and impersonal service and serves very good Bengali food, some of which are fit for daily consumption by office goers.
Address & other details: hotel
Meal for 2: ₹150 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.
We paid 1111 for all this food. No bill. 3 of us ate full to the brim and rolled out. This is quite high a price as compared to other pice hotels – this is price for AC section. Regular section wud b cheaper.
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
As mentioned above, this pice hotel was established in 1938!!! It is located on the first floor of a building in the busy Dharmatala area of Kolkata.
A signboard on the main road is partially covered by a tree and we missed it in the first go. The entrance is thru a staircase – 2 more signboards were there at that place.
As we started walking up the staircase, we noticed that the ceilings of this old building are very high and they had metal and wooden beams to support (called kori kaath in Bengali) – like in most buildings built in first half of last century in Kolkata.
The Main dining room looked the same as I guess how it looked long before. The feeling was Like walking into the sets of a period movie – Kori kaath ceiling, old metal railings, cemented coloured floor and basic dark coloured wooden furniture. Super cool. Super retro.
The AC section was however not as romantic – these were 2 small, low ceiling rooms with modern day foam and metal furniture. It seems these rooms were converted recently into eating rooms. Probably this is the only pice hotel in Kolkata that has air conditioned rooms.
I was surprised to see the Zomato sticker on the door of the A/C dining room.
Recipes have not changed much over the years it seems. Thankfully the menu has not been changed to chowmein and chilly chicken due to competitive pressure.
In the retro section Guests needed to share a table with strangers unless they go in a group of 4 / multiples of 4. Pice hotels in general r a great leveller – u might b sharing table with a renowned poet / a businessman/ a corporate sales manager / a taxi driver !!!!
Beauty of such places is that the volumes are very high and raw materials (fish and veggies) are bought fresh from market every morning. No refrigerated meats/ fishes
Unlike other pice hotels where waiters wear lungi and ganji, All waiting staff here were wearing an orange coloured uniform shirt with name of the restaurant on that.
Like in most pice hotels, there is no printed menu card. There were 2-3 menu boards on the wall with names of many dishes. Interestingly they did not have exactly the same items. Against some dishes we saw a X, which means finished for the day. However while talking to the server we realised that the boards are not well updated and the actual list of food available was less than the board.
Our Server rattled the dishes like a rapper without accompanying music. Service was fast, efficient & mechanical – the guy at times was getting irritated when we were taking time to discuss and order. He disappeared quite a few times in the middle of order taking. I guess he had too many things to do non stop and turn tables fast.
Loved the food. Some dishes were almost like home cooked. Some others were like food cooked by thakurs. For the uninitiated, thakurs are professional cooks who do large scale occasion food in Bengal. Many of these guys are from orissa and the rest are Bengalis. Decades back, thakurs used to be commissioned for all occasions – First rice, large scale birthdays, marriages, death gathering etc. those days members of the family wud do the ingredient shopping, arrange for cutlery, serve the food. Over time, caterers evolved and they started giving end to end service from cutlery to serving.
To maintain quality after 80 years is surely no mean task. Super impressed.
Detailed description- in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
All curries had a tinge of sweetness epar Bangla style (people originally from West Bengal are referred to be from ‘epar Bangla’ and those who migrated from bangladesh are referred to be from ‘opar Bangla’). Opar Bangla food does not have that added sweetness.
We started with Vegetable of the day – aloo potol (a gourd vegetable) posto (poppy seed paste). The curry was not dry/tight as in many households , but was a bit gravey ish. The posto taste was surely above all due to a generous amount of posto in the curry, the aloo taste being next to it and least taste of potol. There was a tinge of sweet and very little chilly. It was very good to taste overall and rate it 4.25/5
We moved on to mocha chingri – it was a dry curry with mocha and shrimps. Banana flowers are called mocha in Bengali and chingri refers to prawns / shrimps. The dish was excellent.
The mocha texture in the curry was well maintained due to the right size of cut (not reduced to a paste like texture). There was no astringent feel in the mocha. The Shrimps added nice flavor. grated coconut did its magic. rate the dish 4.5/5
Rui steam sounded like the steamed fish dish that the Chinese have. However the Rui steam was no where like it. This was rui (rohu) with a mustard and curd based gravy that was cooked by steaming.
Outstanding gravy with the pungency of mustard and the subtle ness of curd. The curd gave a nice texture to the gravy and also acted as a mild souring agent. There was a tinge of sweetness in this as well. Loved this dish a lot. Rate it 4.75/5
Prawn jumbo was very good – it was cooked in a coconut based gravy. Very good quality prawns in a perfectly balanced gravy. Rate it 4.5/5
Dal was like home made. Thin, watery but had its own taste. Flavours of daal and Kala jira were enjoyable. This is surely Fit for everyday consumption. Rate it 4.25/5
Jhuri aloo bhaja was the lowest point of the lunch. This was matchstick shaped, deep fried potato. The bhaja was not crisp when served to us. Also it was a bit Sub optimally salted. Rate it 2.5/5
Tel koi was lovely again. Excellent koi fish in a thick dark sweetish gravy. Beautiful jugalbandi of the flavours of fish and the spices. Just loved this one. Rate it 4.75/5
Mutton curry was very good to taste. Not too much oil flowing out from all sides, not hot. The mutton pieces were however not good. They were tasty but chewy.
Rate the gravy 4/5 and mutton pieces 2/5. Overall rating averages out to 3/5
Chutney was very good – sweet and sour. Rate it 4/5. I wud hv loved it more by adding a dash of salt – alas that did not occur to me at that time!!!
Overall rating of food at this place averages out to 4.3/5
Look forward to revisit to try their famous fish kobiraji jhol, pabda fish, chitol fish etc. next time we are in Kolkata. Also hope that it wud b a bit cooler and hence am looking forward to eating at the retro, non air conditioned section