Kolkatans have always been an ardent fan of Chinese cuisine and this has almost been their second best eat-out option maybe after Mughlai! Though for some, Chinese is definitely their first love when it comes to eating out. There are infinite numbers of street side stalls selling Chinese dishes along with piping hot dimsums in the city. But anyway, the bottom line is pretty clear, Kolkatans are well aware of their Chinese food, they have almost grown up eating these dishes. And it’s challenging to open up another Chinese restaurant as well as satisfying at the same time, since you get to serve loads of fanatics of this particular cuisine. But these days people are very particular about their health and what they are consuming, so people tend to be very serious about avoiding Ajinomoto in their food while they are opting for Chinese dishes. Also at the same time, they now love to try out other South East Asian cuisines like Thai, Burmese or Vietnamese, Indonesian apart from just the vanilla Chinese, which was the only available option in restaurants even few years back. Keeping all these things in mind, several restaurants are coming up in the city that meets all these needs and requirements of the current restaurant goers and food fanatics. Asia House is surely one such place which tries to keep up to all these expectations, and being a newly opened restaurant they really do have loads of time and potential to make it big in their domain. They have been trying to produce modern Asian cuisine while still clinging on to certain old school processes of Asian cooking, signature flavors and aroma.
Recently I was invited by the management of this newly opened modern Asian dining restaurant, Asia House. The place is located at the ground floor of a typical south Kolkata residence, like many other restaurants in the city. From the exteriors it doesn’t seem an effort was made to cover up the fact that it is a residential property, though I must say they did a good job with the interiors. The décor can’t really be termed as ‘no frill’ though it was pretty uncomplicated to be very true. The white washed walls with Chinese writings in red on the pillar catches your eyeballs. Also you can’t miss the handmade baskets covering up the ceiling and that lovely wall décor with several wall hangings and artsy frames which takes up the beautifying quotient of the place to another level. Also I loved the fact they keep chopsticks on the table for their guests along with forks and spoons, unlike several other reputed oriental joints in the city.
Maybe I just missed to tell you about the location of this place, the easiest way to reach this place is to get down at the Jugal’s sweet shop before you reach the Priya Cinema Hall while approaching from Gariahat crossing. After reaching the Jugal’s take the road alongside Jugal’s on the left hand side, walk for 7-8 minutes and you get Asia House with bright red name board on your right. If you are coming by car you can follow this route only, also you can park your car in front of this eatery on the main road.
Now, coming straight to the food. I had tried several dishes at this place, but there were very few scopes given to point out any short comings of any sort, though I seriously felt authenticity was compromised at certain places but still overall I enjoyed the dining experience which really matters the most. Here are the dishes which I had tried –
Shanghai Hawker’s Soup (Chicken) – This is typically the Chinese street vendor’s soup with generous amounts of tofu, bok choy, mushroom, chicken pieces and burnt garlic. Though I felt the aroma of burnt garlic could have been a bit stronger to give this dish a better distinct character.
Vietnamese Pho (Chicken) – I absolutely loved this translucent looking thick soup with rice noodles, bean sprouts, corianders, red union, basil leaves, lime and red chilies in it. The flavors in this soup was very subtle yet it left one long lasting impression about this place and kick started my dining at this modern Asian kitchen!
Jiang’s Pan Fried Chilli Chicken – The dish comprised of sliced chicken smeared with roasted chilies, star anise and served with assorted peppers. The stuff was pan fried to perfection and served as a great starter with a right tang to it.
Pia Sad Takrai – This is one lovely Thai preparation which we had for starters which had fresh crispy fish tossed with Thai herbs, lemongrass, chilli and coriander.
Chicken Sui Mai – I was pretty disappointed with the authenticity of the Sui Mai served though overall it tasted good. It was nothing like what I had tasted back in Singapore or in its neighboring countries. Though if I consider this dish to be a completely different dish looking much like Sui Mai, then I should rate it good since the wafer thin flour wrappers with that minced chicken filling was quite flavorful especially when consumed with that chilli garlic oil sprinkled on top.
Kai Pad Kraprow (Chicken) – This was one main course dish which went quite well with the fried rice served along with this. This had sliced chicken tossed in Thai hot red chillies, herbs and some basil sauce. Overall it had a subtle comforting taste though it was pretty much smeared with red chilies.
Sliced Fish in Chef’s Secret Sauce – This dish looked like some pork preparation and had an well cooked dark color to it which was pretty appetizing to be true. It was actually cliced fish tossed in chef’s signature sauce made from Asian prunes and shrimps, tastewise it was bit lemony and the tang was perfect in every bite with that fresh flaky fish in there.
Khao Pad Kratiem (Chicken) – This was probably my favorite rice dish at this place. It was truly something called ‘comfort food’. It had an awesome fragrance and subtle and pleasant aftertaste. It’s basically Thai fragrant egg fried rice with burnt garlic and a dash of Thai oil.
Pepper Schezwan Rice – This was one spicy fried rice dish tossed with minced veggies in pepper Schezwan sauce, the taste was tad spicy though pretty flavorful and aromatic.
Chilli Garlic Egg Noodles – The only noodle dish that was served went well with other sides and was pretty mildly flavored in itself. The noodles were tossed well with thinly sliced veggies. It was not that soggy and yes of course as they say, it was MSG free.
Darsaan with Vanilla Ice cream – The crispy fried flour darsaan strips tossed with burnt honey and caramelized sugar tasted perfect with that big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Quite a common dessert these days especially at oriental joints but still here this one tasted great, after all that heavy meal we still loved having this dessert.
Fried Ice Cream – This was by far the best fried ice cream I had in my life, yes I mean it. I was completely floored after having it for the first time. It’s fried vanilla ice cream with loads of coconut and honey, and had sesame seeds sprinkled on top! The coconuty crunchy fried covering will surely impress you especially when teamed with a scoop of ice cream in the middle.
So that concluded our munchathon and yes, it was an awesome soul pleasing experience. My friend had also tried the Burmese signature dish called Khawsuey and he went in for the chicken version, he said the dish was very flavorful and the aroma of coconut milk was almost filling the place. Coming to other pointers – the service was again pretty prompt and warm. The hospitality of Mr. Varun and Ms. Shreya is truly appreciated and they made us feel comfortable in no time. Coming to the rating, I would rate this place pretty high and if you talk about numbers it would be something close to 8.5 out of 10 which is really awesome. This is surely a perfect quaint little joint to visit with your family and loved ones, if you are coming in a large group I would suggest prior reservation is mandatory, since it can be an issue to accommodate two very large groups in this eatery at the same time. I would definitely like to be back sometime to try out their curry bowls and the pork / lamb dishes which I am sure would be amazing as well. So, if you are close to Gariahat or Rashbehari area this is surely one great oriental option you can try out, you surely won’t regret.