Ladies and gentlemen, presenting! The Chinese Food Festival at City Center I. I have this lovely lady showing you the price range and the kind of food you can expect to get there.

I was sorely disappointed after seeing the menu, though. Because the food looked quite boring – no pork, beef in the menu (what’s Chinese food without Char Siu, hmm?) and most of the people stuck to the traditional fare of Indo-Chinese, which Kolkata is so used to. However, I did find this lovely group of women who made my day.  They were part of a stall called Buddha’s Light and we had a lovely time talking while I ate.

And here comes a few pictures of what they fed me and made me happy.

Vegetable Bao or Pao

The Vegetable Bao (20/-) was what I raved about on my Facebook page, because the bun was so fresh, soft and moist! And the sauce they served it with! That was a fiery one, with the barest hint of sugar. I am going back tomorrow to buy a bottle or two. The bun bread is light, airy, yet not moist – and the filling does not overwhelm it. And it was vegetarian, for crying out loud!

Fried Chilli Baby Corn

C had been cribbing about crispy chilli baby corn for the last few days, and she zoomed onto this one. The lady smiled and told us that she would make it fresh for her, and she did. A few minutes after she had placed the order, she got a plate of Fried Chilli Baby Corn (50/-). Fat nubbins of crusty baby corn disappeared within a minute of arrival, despite the fact that they were piping hot. Add a dollop of the hot sauce, and C was sweating happily.

I spotted one of my hot favorites lurking about – the Red Bean paste and coconut filled Bao (20/-) – C was in raptures after having a bite, and she told me she never knew this could be so good. I opted for the Vegetarian Sushi (60/- for three) as well.

The Maki came with a side of wasabi – I underestimated the strength of it, added it generously, and consumed. Woohoo! That was good, sinus-clearing wasabi, and the sushi itself was fresh and very tasty – I was stunned how tasty yet simply done it was. The ladies were at this point making brisk business, and they kept on showing me other things on their menu, like the fried wontons and the pineapple cake.

I asked them where they were set up, so we could go visit them. This is the catch – they aren’t. They are part of the Fo Kuang Shan Chinese Buddhist Temple in Tangra (close to the Sing Cheung sauce factory) and if you go there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you will be able to buy and eat some of these amazing things. I was incredibly happy to see the way they kept everything priced very reasonably and their service was brisk, prompt and excellent, unlike the many other labels which were barely opening up, and lazy.

I also stopped at Shanghai Street, where they were not selling anything else but dim sums. After placing our order of a plate of steamed chicken dim sums (120/-), one guy (sort of reluctantly) started to pile a few momos inside the steamer and cooked it for a few minutes. The other guy who stood there looked at the momos for a minute, nodded his head in negation, and put them back in the steamer for a few more minutes. They were hot, moist, and with a filling of chicken, soy and ginger –  pleasant enough with the tomato-chilli sauce served alongside, but too overpriced for six momos. I have been to their restaurant and they are priced much lower than what I saw here.

The ladies at Buddha’s Light Making Brisk Business. Look at Coconut Buns. Yum!

I am guilty of not eating more, because at this point I went back for another of those lovely vegetable buns and was so happy that I cheerfully overlooked the rest. But, if you are in town, then remember, the Chinese food Festival is on till Sunday, 29th June, 2014, and you can visit from 1-9 pm. However, one word of caution – we went around 1.30 pm today, and apart from a couple of stalls, the rest were on the process of starting up. So, be cautious, and go there around 2 if you want to really be in the groove.

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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