An Afternoon with Foodies at Asia House in Kolkata
The people of Kolkata really love their Chinese food. And, I’m a true-blue Kolkatan – at least in this case. My radar picks up on any new Oriental cuisine restaurant that comes up in the city. This time, it was Asia House in Southern Avenue, and my blogger friends and I decided to visit the place and make a day of it! What I got was more than a bloggers lunch at Asia House in Kolkata, but a whole afternoon of fun and laughter with people who reminded me, after a fairly long time, what we were there for – our shared love for food, and writing about it!
An Afternoon with Foodies at Asia House in Kolkata
LOCATION AND DECOR
Asia House is in Southern Avenue, a hot and happening heaven for the foodies of the city. It is located on Lake View Road which turns in front of a booth of SBI in Touch beside Birla Academy of Art and Culture. The restaurant’s décor is quite simple but beautiful; the lamps of rope and wicket basket on the ceiling, the wall with décor pieces, the paintings that reflect an Asian form – it’s almost minimal in style. The tables are set to give the diners their privacy in conversations. What I particularly loved is seating near the window-corner, particularly because this part is flooded with daylight! I found something warm, welcoming and romantic in the ambience. It felt like a place where I would love to make some new memories.
FOOD AT ASIA HOUSE IN KOLKATA
I’m always on the lookout for new flavours when it comes to Oriental cuisine. And, I have to say, I found it to a large extent at this place. Most of it worked, and some of it stopped at showing potential. Here’s quick look at the dishes I tried at Asia House in Kolkata.
We started our meal with some beautiful soups which came with a variety of tastes, aromas, and textures!
Shanghai Hawker’s Soup (Chicken)
This is a classic Chinese street vendors’ favourite soup containing tofu, bok choy, mushrooms and burnt garlic. I was in love with the flavour of the garlic, but what I found even more special was the contrast of textures, with the crunchy spring onions, the silky tofu chunks and the soft chicken pieces.
Vietnamese Pho (Chicken)
This Vietnamese soup has rice noodles, bean sprouts, coriander, red inions, basil, lime, and chillies. As you can guess from the list of aromatics that goes into this recipe, this soup is packed with flavours, but in the gentlest, most subtle way. Plus, the rice noodles and bean sprouts again add lovely textures.
Having warmed our bellies with the soups, we moved on to our starters, to pique our hunger a little more.
Jiang’s Pan Fried Chilli Chicken
This starter dish is of pan fried sliced chicken with assorted peppers, roasted chilli and star anise. This dish was one of my favourites. The flavour of the star anise was dominant, and was beautifully complemented by the aroma of the soy. It was a match made in heaven – I absolutely loved this dish!
Pla Sad Takrai
This is a Thai dish of crispy fish, tossed in coriander, lemongrass, bird’s eye chilli and a mix of Thai spices. Yet another amazing dish, it was made amazing by the subtlety of the aromas. The fish was slightly crispy on the outside, and cooked to perfection. I loved the slight heat and the hint of sweet.
Chicken Sui Mai
This dish is of pretty dumplings, with minced chicken stuffed inside wafer tin flour wrappers, and is served with garlic oil. These dumplings were soft and flavourful, but I found them slightly pungent – I had to look up whether they had a stuffing of fish or meat. They were quite appetising, nonetheless.
Next, we dug into our main course dishes, which were served with Khoo Pad Kratiem (Chicken), Pepper Schezwan Rice (Chicken), and Chilli Garlic Noodles (Egg). In fact, the rice and noodles dishes each turned out to be delicious and packed with flavours, all starkly different from each other!
Kal Pad Kraprow
This is a main course dish of sliced chicken in a sauce spiced with Thai hot chillies, basil and other herbs. It has amazing flavours in it, and yet, the dish was incredibly light, and I felt like I could down the whole dish alone. It went really well with the lemony Khoo Pad Kratiem (Rice). I really loved this one!
Sliced Fish in Chef’s Secret Sauce
I’m not sure how I felt for this fish dish with a signature sauce of Asian prunes and shrimps. It looked like our rich Indian curries, but it was absolutely light. It didn’t have the common Oriental flavours. But then again, I didn’t know what it tasted like! Nothing distinctive, nothing to grab the attention!
This is a traditional Burmese soup, served with steamed noodles, fried noodles, burnt garlic, lime, and coriander. But, as we were already quite full, we requested not to serve the steamed noodles. It had various textures, with the veggies, crispy noodles, etc. Flavour-wise, it could do with a little less pungency.
They say that desserts are like the emperor of the food group: everything else in your stomch will move away to make space for it. So, we went on to our desserts to end the lunch.
Darsaan with Vanilla Ice Cream
Darsaan, a specialty of Chinese restaurants, are crispy fried flour strips tossed in burnt honey and caramelized sugar. The problem with Darsaan is that most of the times, it turns out to be extremely sweet. However, Asia House did it just right. And, it went brilliantly with the vanilla ice cream on the side!
Fried Ice Cream
I usually hate the combination of ice cream or chocolate with anything doughy or floury. I have never liked fried ice cream. But, this was starkly different. The deliciousness of coconut dominated the dessert, while the drizzled honey added a beautifully surprising dimension of taste. It’s a must-have!
MY EXPERIENCE – AND VERDICT
As a kid, my weekend dinners came from a small Chinese eatery near my home. As a teenager, I dedicated most of my TV-time to watching Kylie Kwong whip up Chinese dishes… I’m not being stupidly reminiscent; I’m saying that having grown up learning about the nuances of Oriental cuisine, and eating our Indian version of it, I have a special place for the flavours – they remind me of a distant dream. Simultaneously, I’m much too accustomed to the common tastes of this cuisine. So, I always look for uniqueness and simplicity of Oriental tastes and flavours. Thankfully, I found these at Asia House in Kolkata. Besides, there was something homely about its place. We bloggers bonded over great food amid its beautiful ambience, and remembered what we were there for – good food! The picture in the mind is pretty – and illuminated. I’ll return for that.