We walk down the dusty lanes, and IDG carefully charts a course through Central Kolkata using his fancy GPS gadget. I walk beside him, while S and T fall behind us, giggling about something. The air is cold, but not unpleasant. It hits me square on the face sometimes, and I walk like a dazed raccoon, flitting aimlessly, to ward it off.
|Pou Hing Menu Card|
Our destination is a tiny eating house named Pou Hing which is a crucial part of what is known as the Old Kolkata Chinese Eateries. It is situated right where the famous Chinese Breakfast of Kolkata begins in the morning, and has been successfully GPS-ed right to the point. It is a small place, clean and well-lit. The decor is nothing to write home about, but we are not here for the ambiance.
We are here for the food.
And so we begin by ordering. T and I are both super-hungry, as we haven’t had a single thing since lunch and its already after 8 pm in the night. There is only one other table occupied. A single man sits there, enjoying what I assume is a plate of chicken chow mien and a bowl of soup. He eats the chow with obvious relish, and dips into the bowl of soup occasionally. We quickly look through the paper menu card, and decide on our order.
|Chicken Wonton Soup|
S looks at me morosely while we wait for the food. T is impatient. Soon, bowls appear before us. The soups are here. The Lung Fung Soup is split between me and T, while IDG and S shares a bowl of Wonton Soup. Of course, I must try some from IDG’s bowl, so a quick swap occurs midway, while S and T slurps their way through the hot soup. The Wonton Soup is a comforting little number – silky wrappers of flour encasing a teaspoon of soft chicken and onions within. It is the perfect mouthful, with some Chinese greens and the broth, and I add in a little bit of soy and a single pickled chili to make sure my mouthful is perfect.
|Lung Fung Soup|
The Lung Fung Soup is a thick, rich, hot number with a huddle of chopped ‘shrooms, chicken, egg and prawns in it. I thank God I decided to split with T, because I know there are more food to come. Its perfectly seasoned to my taste, and needs nothing more than a bare hit of vinegar to give it that little additional “oomph” factor. But then, I am slightly obsessed with vinegar, especially if chillies are pickling in it.
|Chicken Wonton Yam Mein|
For our mains, we had ordered Yam Mein. Yam Mein is basically steamed noodles, and it is different from regular chow mien, because it contains less condiments in it. In fact, it can be called downright bland by many, because it is decidedly simple in outlook compared to the complexities of a chow. However, it is simplicity at its best – a generous serving of thick, springy noodles, cooked just right, tossed with a handful of Mustard Greens, some chopped chicken pieces, and in mine and T’s case, chicken wontons. We had ordered the Chicken Wonton Yam Mein while IDG and S had the Chicken Garlic Yam Mein. The Garlic Yam Mein has a strong garlicky flavor, but otherwise is quite similar to our Yam Mein sans the Wontons.
The Shanghai Chicken is the server’s second recommendation after we decline his first suggestion of Chicken in Hamei Sauce. We are pretty much accustomed to eating that in Tung Nam, so we decline that suggestion. We initially veered towards the Fried Ginger Chicken, but he remarks that the Shanghai Chicken would be more apt, since it is “spicy but not too spicy”, so we decide to go with it. The result is nothing remarkable, and there seem to be a profusion of artificial red color. The chicken itself is sweet, faintly reeking of ginger, tomato sauce and scallions, oozing oil, and is not really what I would like to have with my noodles. But well, we finish the dish all the same.
|Chicken Garlic Yam Mein|
T had originally ordered Steamed Wontons, but the server comes back regretfully and says that after giving us the Wonton soup and the Yam Mein, they were all out of Wontons, so is it okay if he brought Momos? We nod our heads in affirmation, and he is back with a plate of piping hot Chicken Momos halfway through our meal.
There are eight pieces of Momos on the plate served with a sweet sauce which I instantly hate, and proceed to dip the Momos in the Chilli Sauce that is on the table. They have a fine skin, and contain a generous portion of chicken and vegetables inside. I detect a faint smell of star anise, which is further emphasized when they are dipped into the sauce they are served with. Although S was not a fan, the rest of us are pretty happy about them, picking them up with our chopsticks, and dunking them in the sauce of our choice, before popping them in our mouth.
We are full to the point of bursting at this point, and ask for the bill. The server proudly presents it to us. Dear readers, I will not talk about the cost, but rather, show you, the bill. Because our jaws drop to the floor when we see it and then we fight over who gets to pay for the meal. I win of course!
|Bill. 470 INR (about $9, according to current USD Exchange Rate)|
15, Room 6,
Sun Yet Sen Street,
Dalhousie, BBD Bagh,
Tiretty Bazaar Area