|Vegetarian Thukpa at Cafe Shillong|
There is a reason why I am posting my experience at the two outlets in Cafe Shillong separately. I was warned by a friend that I should avoid this place, but to be honest, I wanted to go there, because I got about 10 people telling me otherwise. I have to say, my experience has been a mixed one, but then again, there is a huge fan following of Cafe Shillong, which is supposed to be the best restaurant in Shillong. It is quite famous, no doubt, and has multiple outlets around the town. I checked out both the Tripura Castle and the Laitumkhrak outlets with V during our stay.
|Cafe Shillong Laitumkhrak|
We entered the Laitumkhrak outlet of Cafe Shillong on a breezy day, where the temperature altered between 18 degrees and 6, and I wanted the coffee at first sight. They have a few things on the blackboard, and the Caramello was one of them. When asked, the server said, “It’s coffee with caramel, ma’am,” and of course, I am sold the moment someone says caramel, so I ordered it. While the server took down V’s order, I looked around. A group of foreigner tourists were busy consuming pork momos, and on one side, which resembled a bar with high stools, a man sat with a cup of hot caramel-laden coffee, and looked back at us curiously. I gave him a sunny smile and he hurriedly went back to his coffee, turning his back to us.
The Caramello was laced with a thick layer of caramel in and around the inner rim of the cup. The coffee itself lacked the bitter kick, and the caramel drowned whatever flavor it could deliver. I was mildly disappointed, but by that time, my main was before me, and it was pretty gigantic, so I laid aside my coffee to attack the beauty that was the roast pork.
|Roast Pork with Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Bread, and Boiled Vegetables|
I had been recommended the roast pork here by quite a few people, and well, this one was quite good, with thick, rich slabs of boneless pork, cooked till its tender and juicy and then topped with a thick mushroom sauce. I loved the texture of the pork, although I felt that the seasoning was slightly on the lower side. However, the salt and pepper on one side of the table quickly took care of that, and I was lost in the beauty that is soft meat combined with perfectly mashed potatoes.
|Roast Pork at Cafe Shillong|
A mound of vegetables were perfectly blanched and kept on one side, along with a couple of slices of garlic-butter laden bread. Of course, at this point I had noticed that V was shovelling down his Thukpa with great alacrity, so I quickly attacked his bowl with a spoon, because although the bowl was big, with the speed at which he was going, it was going to end soon!
One spoonful confirmed what I had thought – the Vegetarian Thukpa was absolutely beautiful, with a thick, rich broth, perfectly cooked noodles and vegetables, which were cooked till they were just about cooked, but still retained the crunch. I was about to consume more, but V looked at me with pleading eyes, and I relented, grumbling. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking, and found a lovely cold storage which carried all sorts of dried meat pickle (I loved the beef pickle) at the end of that road (near something that was called Health Point, I think), but I still remember the ecstasy that was the soft pork which gave way at the first hit of the fork, and the gelatinous rind which was sin in its truest form.
|Cafe Shillong Tripura Castle|
Excited with this success, we decided to give the other outlet a chance, and went down to the Tripura Castle outlet soon. This outlet is slightly far from the central part of the city, and it is relatively more chilly than the interiors of the city, so if you are smart, you will carry a jacket with you, just in case you feel cold. We opted to sit outside, and well, soon enough, V could see me shivering in the cold wind, and gallantly offered the use of the leather jacket I was throwing envious glances at. I politely declined, and ordered a bowl of Pork Thukpa for myself, remembering the fantastic Thukpa of the day before.
|Pork Thukpa at Cafe Shillong Tripura Castle|
However, to my surprise, this Thukpa was nothing like the stuff we had had at the other outlet. It was rich and thick all right, but the broth was red, and had an almost Laksa-like quality to it. We did see Laksa in the menu, and wondered if they had confused our order with that. But, upon inquiry, we were told, the Thukpa here was like this, and yes, it came with three kinds of sauces (as if the fiery broth wasn’t enough!). Oh well, I was not complaining, to be very honest. I even left V’s Vegetarian Thukpa alone, because I was saving stomach space for more food to come!
|Sauces accompanying the Thukpa|
Apart from the regular chillies in vinegar, there was a bowl of ginger-garlic in soy sauce and a bowl of what reminded me of a creamy peanut sauce. V added generous portions of the soy to his Thukpa, and consumed with gusto, while I added chilli-vinegar and the peanut sauce to mine. Thick chunks of pork swam in my thukpa, and yes, they were soft and perfectly paired with the springy noodles.
|Pork with Bamboo Shoots|
As we had a long journey back, I had ordered the Pork with Bamboo Shoots, which came with a side of rice, and what I assumed was Tungtap, a fermented fish paste, which is pretty common in the North East. I wasn’t too pleased with this dish, since the bamboo shoots were too many, and the pork too less. However, the hot and sour gravy was just the thing I needed on a cold day, and I ate my fill of this pork dish before accepting defeat.
|Vegetable Pan fried noodles|
Meanwhile, V had shovelled down a considerable amount of the pan fried vegetarian noodles, which he ate with gusto. I tried some, and it was nice, with a lovely smoky flavor from frying over high heat. However, to be fair, it was not remarkable, but good and solid, with a sprinkling of fresh chopped spring onions on top, which lifted the dish up considerably. He was defeated by the huge portion size as well, and our last meal in Shillong was bittersweet, where parts of me was already planning a return trip, and another part busily hoping to pack more dried meat pickle.
Laitumkhrak Main Road,
Shillong – 793003
Tripura Castle Road
East Khasi Hills