Route 17 The New Café in Town

Route 17 is a great place to hang out and chill. I absolutely loved the vibe of the place. It has an undeniable warmth. The place has four separate sections depending on what you are in the mood for, from a seating area with lovely bright red tables to a cabana style section to a cozy reading room with books if you’re in the mood for some “me” time. Loved the pillars wrapped with jute rope and the sleeper wood light and the bamboo installation ….. the contemporary yet quirky décor is pleasing but has a charm and warmth that makes you feel comfortable. They also have a large projector screen and an excellent sound system and I am sure watching a cricket match or a game of football with friends will be great fun at Route 17.

The Management has decided to start with only Chinese at present and plans are certainly there to add to the cuisines in due time. Currently it’s rather a novelty to have a Café serving up only Chinese and like most others in the city I love Chinese food so I am quite happy.

Over our first visit we sampled Spring Rolls, Chicken Momo’s , Chilli Chicken and Korean Chicken Sticks. I liked the Spring Rolls and both the Chicken Momo’s and Korean Chicken Sticks were good. The show stealer for me however was the Chilli Chicken with great robust flavors and I loved it. This is going to be my must order dish every time I visit.

On my next visit a few days later I had a chance to sample a few more dishes though I confess I did order the yummy Chilli Chicken again. We started our meal with American Corn Pepper Salt which we loved it was spot on great texture and taste. We also ordered Golden Fried Prawns which were very good perfectly cooked and served with a nice dipping sauce. And of course the Chilli Chicken which I can’t seem to stop bringing up.

For our main course we ordered Spicy Blackbean Fish which was excellent …. absolutely loved the dish and would unhesitatingly recommend it. This was paired with Route 17 Special Fried Rice that comes with Chicken, Assorted Vegetables, some Cashews and a fried egg on top. It was very nice and we enjoyed it, went very well with our Fish. We had also ordered a Honey Pepper Chicken and this was perhaps the only dish that was a little below par , felt it lacked balance in terms of the flavor of the honey and pepper and also the sauce was a bit too thin. I am sure however that it will be rectified because the other food was very good.

The service though warm and friendly lacks polish and they need to work hard in that department so as to give their guests a complete experience. That being said however its early days and with time they will be up to the mark.

Hookahs are also available though I don’t indulge so did not sample them. However there seemed to be a fair bit of variety on offer for those of you who do.

Overall a lovely addition to the locality and I look forward to many more visits. One of these days you’re going to step in and find me there in their lovely cozy reading room with a book , a diet coke and a plate of (you guessed it) Chilli Chicken in front of me.

 

Picture Credits : Suneha Saha

DISCLAIMER: The author was invited to dine as a guest of The Management


Route 17 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hilsa Reinvented , Season 5

Ilish, hilsa, hilsa herring or hilsa shad is a species of fish in the herring family and in my humble opinion the undoubted Queen of Fish. For me the Hilsa has no completion that comes close in terms of its unique taste and versatility. And for the last few years Chef Sharad Dewan and his talented team have showcased that versatility like no one else has without forgetting its strong roots in the heart of Bengal. I was delighted when I received my now annual invite by the management of The Park, Kolkata to their Hilsa Reinvented Festival which will be ongoing at The Bridge , Zen and Saffron.

My earliest memory of eating this gorgeous flavorsome fish was as a young kid ….  Dad would go buy a lovely fresh Ilish at New Market and it was brought home, marinated with the family spice mix and deep fried. I still remember coming home from school and smelling the tantalizing aroma of the Hilsa being fried and salivating at the thought of lunch. We usually ate it with steamed rice and a simple yellow dal and I would wait patiently till my mom lovingly removed the bones and I could dig in to my lunch

The Hilsa has been served up in multi-dimensional avatars like the Bridge Caesar , Grilled Ilish Risotto with Dill walnut Ice Cream , Ilish vindaloo with steamed rice , Crispy fried Ilish with Thai Chilly paste  and Ilish Teriyaki amongst others . We sampled the Crispy Fried Iilish with Thai Chilly paste and absolutely loved it. What was wonderful was that the chilly paste did not overpower the lovely flavor of the fish. It was perfectly cooked with a crunch outside and moist flakiness inside. An awesome way to start our meal. Next up was what is perhaps my all-time favorite way to eat this fish … Smoked Hilsa and it was absolutely gorgeous and delicate. Loved the grilled potatoes they served with it. This dish is boneless and so for those of you who avoid this fish because of all the bones a perfect dish to order.

However there are those who like their Hilsa served up traditionally … never fear because there is an entire selection comprising of Ganga Ilisher Paturi ,Doi Bhapa Ilish , Kalo Jeera,  Sorshe diye Ilish Macher Jhal ,and Daab Ilish that will leave you satiated and delighted. We were served up a fantastic Ilish Borishali Biryani with some lovely Prawn Curry that was a great combination to tantalize our happy taste buds further.

We ended on a sweet note with some yummy hot Malpua’s that were absolutely delicious and left us too full to move. . If you like fish and are a fan of Hilsa don’t miss out on visiting The Park and surrender yourself to Ilish overload.

 

Picture Credits : Suneha Saha

Disclaimer : The author was invited for this tasting as a guest of The Management


The Bridge - The Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Uber Ice Cream

Uber has been a great boon to Kolkata and gone are the days when you worry about getting a taxi or having a taxi driver cheat you. Now all you have to do is use their app and call your cab right to where you are.

However what I have found particularly refreshing and enjoyed thoroughly is how Uber has used very innovative promotional ideas to endear itself to its users. The Harley Motorbikes and the Supercar Promos were received in Kolkata with great excitement as was the Uber Ice Cream Promo.

Uber Ice Cream happened in over 400 cities in 69 countries around the world this July 15 . Uber wants every person to pamper themselves with their favorite frozen treat with friends and loved ones with this year’s theme “Indulge Together”. All you need to do is open your Uber app between 11am to 3pm, set your location, and select ICE CREAM. Order away and your special Magnum ice cream bars will be delivered to you. Uber Drivers will deliver four bars of Magnum ice cream for a discounted rate of just INR 300/= to your requested location.

It was a grey and rainy day and I was at work in my office. It was one of those days when you sure as hell need a pick me up to get through the day. I suddenly remembered that today was Uber Ice Cream Day and opened up my Uber App … right there in the right hand corner was the Ice-Cream Option …. I quickly ordered and was wondering if with all the rain and water logging the delivery was going to be possible. Shortly thereafter my phone rang and it was the Uber Driver asking for detailed directions to reach my office which I promptly gave. A few minutes later a smiling man walks in and hands over a nice bright packet filled with four Magnum Bars (the Truffle flavor) and some very nice bright badges along with a very sweet little card that tells me to “Indulge Together”. Believe me that is exactly what I did, I gave three of my colleagues a shout out and they were soon in my office and we all happily tucked into our ice-cream. Suddenly with all the smiles around me it did not seem like such a grey and dreary day at all. Thankyou Uber Kolkata for brightening up our day.

 

The Sainthood Project

Who are we?  We are either somebody or nobody. What gives you the right to call yourself somebody? Something you do, something that makes you stand out or be remembered I guess. The Sainthood Project for me is all about a group of people who call themselves The Nobody who I believe are very special and truly the somebody we all want to be. I guess I may not be making complete sense but bear with me and read on. You might be asking yourself by now , she is a food writer so where is the food blog what is all this about nobodies and sainthood? To that I will answer that this blog is also about food , a different kind of food … food that feeds your soul and not your stomach. The food that you need to grow as a human being and rise up to your responsibilities as a part of our beautiful City of Joy.

Kolkata born and internationally acclaimed photographer Kounteya Sinha has decided to turn the cobbled streets of Rome into his open air gallery to portray Kolkata – the city that gave Mother Teresa her name. He initiates a two week long civilian movement called “The Sainthood Project” to coincide with Mother Teresa’s Canonization as a Saint in the Vatican. Despite his many successes Kounteya is all set for another coup of sorts – the first ever crowd funded show to portray the city of his birth – Kolkata in Rome. Crowd funding is the practice of funding a project by raising money through donations from a large number of people.

There is so much more to Kolkata than the grand colonial buildings, the majestic Victoria Memorial or the iconic Howrah Bridge. It’s all the layers it has, that Kounteya peels away baring its beating heart, its naked core …. making us take a very real look at it with all its little secrets that are woven into the very fabric of our life that we walk or drive past every day but never truly actually see. This is a perspective of my city that has left me stunned. There is beauty in the squalor and yet its charm endures. But it also makes me realize that Kolkata is a city of opposites from towering mansions and soaring buildings to the crowded little lanes , the jostling crowds  however for me it’s the people with their warmth and kindness that give the city its unique and magnetic force …. That perhaps is what keeps bringing Kounteya back to his birthplace. It’s a bond so powerful that even after fifteen years of being away he wants to pay such a beautiful tribute to this grand old city.

Kounteya who is presently shooting all over Kolkata will unveil “The Sainthood Project” on August 24 outside the Vatican. For twelve days, Kounteya along with his team “The Nobody’s” will stand on the streets of Rome and showcase photographs of Kolkata. He says he wants to make people fall in love with his city just the way he loves it. He has picked 11 major spots which will become his open air gallery – Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Palantine Hill, Vatican Museum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, Galleria Borghese and in front of the Roman Forum where 50 photographs of Kolkata will be exhibited under The Sainthood Project.

Kounteya repeats Mother Teresa’s words – “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. This is my way of doing a small thing for the city I so love.” The Sainthood Project as an idea is path breaking. It diminishes everyone involved with it, into a nobody. Everyone stands at the same pedestal with one single commonality – their love for Kolkata.

People involved in the project aren’t stars. They are simple, common people.  Imagine a full time young lawyer harboring and nourishing his secret love for music. The Sainthood Project will see Amlan Guha compose 15 incredible new tracks that he will play on the streets of Rome to glorify Kolkata”.

Surasree Seal – a young photographer from Government Art College struggles to make her ends meet. She stays in Kolkata – away from her home and family to be able to make a mark as a photographer and in spite of her desperate need to earn, she holds off all her projects to hop on board as its creative director.

Sakhi Singhi is a young student of theatre at the Sarah Lawrence College, New York. Moved by the project’s ideals, Sakhi who has to join back for her classes on Sept 1 is actually coming to Rome to become a “Nobody” and will stand and be an ambassador for Kolkata from Aug 22nd to 30th.

Opal Joseph is a mother of two and hardly finds time managing both office and home. She however has decided to volunteer for the Sainthood Project.

Srijita Ray Barman and Rajashree Bose are two of Kolkata’s well known communication specialists. They are neck deep in handling some of Kolkata’s biggest brands but for the duo, the Sainthood Project is a pilgrimage – a way to glorify the city of their birth and bread.

Thanks be to Kounteya’s crowd-funding idea funds have started coming in from across the world. Donors from UK and US and as far as Nigeria have started to donate money towards the cause but a lot more still needs to be done with very little time in hand. And so I ask you my fellow citizens …. How many years has this city sheltered you and yours? How many wonderful and cherished memories have you had associated with Kolkata? How many friends have you among the wonderful people of this City? More importantly HOW MUCH HAVE YOU GIVEN BACK FOR ALL ITS GIVEN YOU? It’s time to give back a little bit of what its given you. Spread the word, contribute whatever you can … it will all add up to making The Nobody into somebody who will let Rome know all about us and our beautiful City of Joy.

 

Picture Credit : Kounteya Sinha and Team Nobody

Red Hot Chilli Pepper (Salt Lake)

This restaurant is part of the same group which started Red Hot Chilli Pepper in Ballygunge almost two decades back and serves up some great Chinese cuisine. There are now 4 branches in the city including this one and they flourish as Kolkata’s love for Chinese endures.

They serve a lunch buffet for INR 525/= plus which includes Assorted Salads, Soup, Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Starters (3 each), Two Non –Vegetarian and Three Vegetarian Mains along with Rice and Noodles and Two Desserts. A complimentary soft drink is included. That makes it a decent enough deal and while it’s not a huge spread its quite good. The alcohol is decently priced and it’s basically aimed to fulfill the requirements of the techie crowd in Sec V.

The a-la-carte is my preferred choice and I have my standard items that I love to order like Moonfan Rice, Lat me kai, Sliced Chicken with Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce or Crispy Pork in Chilli Plum Sauce. Love the delicate flavor of the Moonfan Rice which is a must order dish. I love the Lat Me Kai Chicken and it’s a starter I almost always order. If you like soup my recommendation is either Wanton Soup or the Hot and Sour. The Sliced Chicken in Oyster Sauce is delicious and the Crispy Pork with Chilli Plum Sauce is a firm favorite….  sweet and spicy with great textures of the crispy pork , juicy pineapple chunks and crunchy bell peppers. The Pan Fried Noodles are lovely and I always prefer them to the regular Hakka Noodles. I am almost always too full for dessert but if I have space the Darsaan (crispy honey noodles with sesame seeds) and a scoop of Vanilla Ice-cream is what I opt for.

Service is fairly prompt and the décor is contemporary with liberal use of red and black which looks nice and bright. Drop in if you’re in the area and you want to have a relaxed meal as it’s fairly quiet on weekends. Usually my preferred place to dine if I am in the vicinity.

 

Picture Credits : Suneha Saha


Red Hot Chilli Pepper Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fuji

I am not a great fan of Japanese food so although Fuji is located fairly close to home it took me a while to visit even though I had heard good things about it. Some cousins in town and wanted to eat Japanese so off we went for dinner. Fuji is located on the third floor and while the entrance and building were rather mundane I was charmed the moment we stepped in. Loved the decor and all the little touches like the windows, the Japanese umbrella above the bar, the paintings, the crockery and the option of low seating where you could sit and eat more traditionally.

I am not particularly big on Sushi but I love Tempura so the first thing we ordered were Ebi Tempura which was five good sized prawns in a perfect crisp batter with succulent prawns perfectly cooked inside. We liked it so much we ended up ordering a second round as well. We also ordered Yasai Tempura Moriawase which was assorted Vegetable Tempura which was quite good. We also ordered a Beer and a couple of glasses of White Wine which went perfectly with our Tempura. This was followed by Chicken Gyoza which we all polished off in record time.

We were quite full so decided to go easy on the main course. We ordered a Buta Yakisoba which was a delicious bowl of Pan Sautéed Noodles with Pork and assorted vegetables tossed in Japanese Sauces …… absolutely delicious and light enough after all the fried tempura. We also ordered the ButaKakuni Miso Ramen which was really nice … it was a portion of Ramen Noodles cooked in Miso Stock and served up with lovely sliced pork , boiled egg and vegetables and some seaweed to garnish , lovely rustic flavors and the pork was to die for only wish they had been a bit more generous with it !

All in all we had a wonderful dinner which I was surprised to enjoy as much as I did. The only thing is the pocket pinch which was rather steep. However for the occasional indulgence certainly worth a visit.

 

Picture Credits :SunehaSaha


Fuji Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momo Happiness at The Blue Poppy

The Momo is a type of dumpling native to Tibet. It is similar to Chinese baozi or Japanese gyoza. The dish is believed to be of Tibetan origin and since then has spread to other neighboring countries by Tibetan refugees. Momo is a type of steamed bun with some form of filling. It has become popular in Nepal, Tibet and among Nepalese/Tibetan communities in Bhutan.

The popular types of Momo’s available are Steamed, Fried and Pan Fried. I have fond memories going to the Momo Joints in Suburban Hospital Road with my friends and having great “adda” sessions over steaming hot plates of momo’s and cold drinks to douse ourselves with after binging on the spicy momo sauce that was served with our Momo’s . The Momo has over the years evolved into a great favorite of Kolkata and lots of places serve up Momo’s. One of the nicest however is The Blue Poppy with Branches in Middleton Street, Salt Lake and Lake Town. I recently visited the Salt Lake one and so I thought I would share my experience.

I love the rain and rainy grey days are made for lovely hot Momo’s. A few days back I had to go to Salt Lake for work and hunger pangs struck around lunchtime. I did not want a long drawn out meal and was wondering what to eat when I suddenly passed Sikkim House and The Blue Poppy and I immediately knew what I was going to eat. We walked up to the 1st Floor and seated ourselves … it’s a no frills place … don’t go looking for ambiance but service is warm and with a smile so it more than makes up. We wanted a quick bite so we ordered Steamed Pork Momo’s and Chilly Pork along with Thumbs Up. The food came in good time, fresh and steaming hot and we dug right in. Lovely plump Momo’s with a good amount of well-seasoned minced pork. They have chicken and vegetarian versions as well for those so inclined. The Fiery Red Momo Sauce added the right amount of zing to our dish. Portion sizes are good, eight pieces to a portion. After we are done with our Momo’s we go after the Chilly Pork. Great robust flavors of garlic, chilies and bell peppers. The pork is well done with just the right amount of fat to make it juicy and give the dish texture. Could not find fault and wiped our plates clean. We also packed a Veg Fried Momo to take back for a friend. If you like spicy food their Pan Fried Momo’s are pretty good as well and make for a nice change.

Overall a great experience and what is heartening is that they have maintained their quality I have always walked away content with my meal.

Picture Credits : Suneha Saha


The Blue Poppy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato