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 104 years old pice hotel where time seemed to stand still, a visually missable facade on an important road, simple interiors, unmissable, almost home like food at shocking low prices (compared to other non AC restaurants serving similar food).
Address & other details: Tarun niketan
Meal for 2: ₹100 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
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.
No bill. We paid ₹740 for all that we ate
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
I Wud hv walked in front of this place 50 times but never noticed it. There is a board on a gate next to the footpath. A lane emerges from the gate. The lane ends at a door and beyond that nothing more is visible.
I first got to know of this place from an insta post by fellow food blogger kafkaisafoodcritic. She had posted a pic of a prawn curry that looked stunning. After a chat on the post, I added this to my list for next visit to kolkata.
The day we decided to have lunch here, we switched on google and reached the spot. However google was showing a different building on the other side. We asked a watchman . He could not say. Then after a little bit of walking around, we asked a shopkeeper who told us the exact location.
As we entered the eatery we realised that nothing much has changed here. However what was nice is that the ceiling and walls seemed to be painted and maintained, unlike another pice hotel that we like- jaganmata.
On one side of the wall was framed press coverage.
The tables had marble top and wooden body. Chairs were plastic made. Like all other pice hotels, customers share table with strangers.
Recipes have not changed much over the years it seems. Thankfully the lunch menu has not been changed to chowmein and chilly chicken due to competitive pressure. These items r however available for evening snacks – chowmin (noodles cooked in kolkata style),Tarka roti (daal tadka is called tarka in Kolkata and is often served with added eggs or minced meat).
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, the people here were wearing tee shirts and trousers.
Like in most pice hotels, there is no printed menu card. There was one menu board on the wall with names of many dishes. The writing was quite something – it looked pretty close to hieroglyphics!!!! Usually this is written in good handwriting in Bengali.
So we were depending on our server to tell us the menu – Our Server, a lean middle aged man , initially with a very serious face, rattled the dishes like a slow rapper without accompanying music. Service was slow and warm – he took some time to break ice and after that the interactions were as if we know each other for years!!! He disappeared quite a few times in the middle of order taking. I guess he had too many things to do non stop with customers at different stages of lunch simultaneously.
Loved the food. All dishes were almost like home cooked, fit for everyday consumption by people who depend on this eatery for lunch and dinner.
Generally they serve food on banana leaf. The day we went, the supply of banana leaf was low. So we were given bio degradable plates made from saal leaves.
There was a board in the main hall that has this written in Bengali- ‘NO ONIONS – every food item is made without onions and garlic. Exceptions are – fish kalia, mangsher curry and egg curry. ‘
On another corner, above a door, there was a board with BASIN written in English. No it’s not that it’s exit to a river basin but it talks about exiting the dining hall from that door to access a hand wash area. The backyard, which had things thrown around everywhere
Detailed description- in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
We ordered Chingri bora (prawn pakoda). What came on the plate did not look like one. We took a bite. We were sure it was not chingri. We asked our server and he said ‘chingri bora got over and I gave you Maacher dimer bora instead’!!! Without blinking!!!
Machher dim is fish roe/ fish egg. Bora is pakora. Loved the maacher dimer bora. It was soft, juicy and really good. Flavours were full blown. Super loved the taste and texture. Rate it 4.5/5
Kochu muro was excellent. Kochu (leaf of a plant) with muro (fish head) had a lovely texture – not slimy , yet smooth. The taste was too good. Fish head lent their flavours very well to the curry. Rate it 4.5/5
Mocha torkari was a dry curry of banana flower (mocha). It had a good amount of potatoes in it , cut in small pieces, matching the cut size of mocha. The mocha did not have any astringent feel. Nor was it over sweet. The curry was just perfect in terms of texture, flavor and taste. Rate it 4.5/5
Daal was superb again. Absolutely simple, subtle, thin, home like – almost impossible to replicate with such ease. Excellent daily food. Rate it 4.5/5
Parshey jhol was a thin gravy of parshey fish. The Flavourful jhol was too good to taste. The fish in itself was a bit over fried by home standards but brilliantly fried if one compares with most commercial kitchens. The light, thin , watery jhol beautifully captured the flavours of fish and spices. Rate the jhol 4.5/5. Rate the fish 3.5/5. Overall rating averages out to 4/5
American koi Kalia also had a thin gravy but this one was stronger in flavours. The fish was optimally fried. It was a solid fish. Loved every bit of the fish and the jhol. Rate it 4.25/5
Mangsher curry had potatoes in it as per tradition. The gravy was robust in flavours and taste, yet it was super thin and simple. Flavours of meat were in totality in the jhol. Loved every drop of it. Drank a bit of it like soup. Wow. Rate it 4.5/5
Mixed Chutney was a super thick and sticky sweet Chutney made from tomatoes, aam sattwo (aam papad / dried mango pulp) and khejur (date). Each bite had a different taste and texture depending on which ingredient had the highest proportion in the bite!! Rate it 3.5/5
Overall rating of food at Tarun Niketan averages out to 4.3/5
Look forward to revisiting.