All my childhood I wasn’t aware how pork tastes like! We were one of those orthodox Bengali families who didn’t experiment much with cuisines, eateries or choices of protein. A plethora of Bengali dishes (basically Bangladeshi cuisine) were cooked at my home which I thoroughly enjoyed all my childhood, but pork or beef never used to get into the kitchen! Even today, the majority of Bengali families survive just on chicken and mutton, when it comes to meat options. There are still way too many misconceptions and beliefs surrounding the consumption of pork or beef even today.
Remembering my first Pork experience
Anyway coming back to my story, there came a day much later in my life when I left behind the bird and goat and decided to move ahead! I tasted Chilli Pork for the first time at The Blue Poppy along with my friends; it used to be at Gorkha Bhawan then, opposite City Centre Saltlake (now it is no more there). I was simply floored after having that dish, I still remember! The dish was damn tasty, spicy, bursting with flavors and the pork meat was tender with a hint of lard at places. Since then, there has been no looking back! Pork meat remains my favorite protein option as of today. I do have beef at selected places, but I always prefer pork over beef for its texture, meat fiber structure, fat meat ratio, etc. And since I have been living in Newtown/Saltlake (Kolkata) area for over a decade now, most of my pork exploration stories revolve ‘round this place.
So today let’s check out the eateries serving (good) pork dishes here in Saltlake area. I have tried to highlight the word ‘good’ because the taste of a dish is subjective and you may hate a dish which I may absolutely adore! A couple of months back I actually went out with two blogger friends of mine, a pinch of salt (owned by Raina) and Kolkata foodie (owned by Ritika), who are also Saltlake residents to explore, re-explore, talk and exchange notes about some eateries. This article is about that food walk and beyond, it lists all my favorite porky places in Saltlake where I have been eating since last so many years now. We started off our journey with some Naga Pork curry at Nagaland House.
Exploration begins with some Pork curry
Naga Pork Curry – I have always been looking for authentic Naga food in my city, but sadly in Kolkata, there aren’t many joints serving Naga cuisine. So we decided to drop in at Nagaland House (Saltlake) to try out the Naga lunch thali, at Nagaland House canteen. The idea was to explore the Saltlake area (Kolkata) and find out good no-frill places to savor pork delicacies which many might be unaware of. Nagaland House came first in my mind because they serve this wholesome Pork Thali (picture below) and I have known this fact for years now!
This Naga Pork Thali is priced at INR 160 (as of today) and believe me, they serve a huge quantity of rice which is more than enough for one person. In this thali, you get steamed rice, dal, steamed cabbage (without any seasoning), akhuni chutney paste with some beans and loads of red chili in there, and of course the pork curry. The pork curry was spicy, pretty dry with almost five pieces of diced pork in there. The pieces were a tad too fatty but nonetheless extremely flavorful.
But frankly speaking, I would have loved more curry in there to have my rice with, since the dal was not that great nor the bland boiled cabbages. So basically you are left with the pork curry, red akhuni chutney and the rice. The Pork curry for which I had come here left me wanting for more for its spicy aftertaste, flavor of fermented bamboo shoots, pepper and loads of other spices!
Assamese Pork Curry – Now this humble little place is literally a hidden gem, it’s called ‘Jaluk’ and it’s hidden in the bylanes of Saltlake Sector-5, in the alley right opposite Technopolis building. I am unaware of any other pocket-friendly authentic Assamese eatery here in Kolkata, so Jaluk surely is a gift to the Kolkatans. The place is of course run by an Assamese guy and the menu makes sure you keep coming back here for more! Recently I was there to try out some of their dishes.
The Pork dish that I had ordered to be savored with steamed rice was called Pork with Mustard Leaves (lai shakh). The Pork was cooked with elephant apple and mustard leaves and had thin, mildly spicy flavorful gravy, perfect to go with steamed rice.
There were five small pieces of pork out of which three pieces concentrated mostly on lean meat while the rest was fat. But definitely, the pork fat added more character and taste to that thin gravy which I will remember for a very long time. Try other pork Assamese dishes as well at this place like the Pork Dry Fry, Pork Mati Daal, etc. You get Bhoot Jolokia aachar (Ghost chilli pickle) and Kazi nemu (lemon) along with the rice, just add a bit while you are having these curries, it will taste heavenly!
Next we moved ahead to Pork Ribs
There is one small takeaway joint in Saltlake Sector-2 called ‘Local Gourmet’ run by two passionate souls. They really don’t do any aggressive marketing but still, foodies are aware of this place, thanks to other food enthusiasts and word of mouth. When we dropped in, most of the pork dishes were exhausted but we were lucky enough to get some Korean Pork Ribs, which was also suggested by the owners!
Korean Pork Ribs were sitting on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. Here the pork was so well marinated that the spices and the rub sipped deep inside making this super delicious and an experience to remember. They have used a sweet and spicy marmalade sauce and Korean Gochujang for taming this bad boy! The end result was absolutely stunning; definitely try these dishes when you visit Local Gourmet!
Talking about Pork Ribs, I tried a decent one at Hoppipola (Saltlake Sector-5) as well. Though it was a tad bigger in size and difficult to handle compared to the one I had at Local Gourmet and a bit less flavorful, but still it’s a decent option to have with beer, or some potent cocktail at this quirky pub. The meat to fat ratio was as per my liking with a higher percentage of tender lean meat.
Btw you can also try the Pork Chops and Bacon-wrapped prawns from the Steak Factory, Saltlake. I especially love those Bacon-wrapped prawns, one of the best porky appetizers one can probably have.
Time for some Pork Momos!
Till the time Blue Poppy was here in Saltlake I didn’t have to think twice when it came to pork momos, but sadly they are not having any outlet here in the Saltlake area which is somewhat depressing to say the least. As a result, other Momo joints got an edge and thrived in this area over last couple of years. But there is a place called ‘The Darjeeling’ (at Saltlake DB block) which happens to exist for quite some time now. It’s actually a nice stop for pork lovers but I found it inconsistent at times. But one thing which remains my favorite from this place is Pork Momo.
At present they are the ones serving the juiciest pork momos in this area, there isn’t any doubt about that. When you bite into these generously filled steamed porky dumplings, divine momo juice bursts out and you get drenched in an inimitable culinary joy! Also, the clear Momo soup is simple, subtle and soothing! But I must say their pork sausages aren’t good and definitely not up to the mark, so visit this place for an evening adda over some pork momos in their outdoor seating area!
Another place which happens to be my favorite is ‘Momo I Am’. I love their varieties of Pork Momos, Pork Thukpa / Mothuk (soupy noodles), Bangkok Street pork noodle soup, Pork Salads, Pork Baos, porky sides like Pork Shapta, Chilli Pork, Pork fried rice, etc. They are porky heaven to many souls in Saltlake Newtown area. If you are here, I believe you can try out their steamed pork momos, they are soft with a thin silky skin and flavorful filling.
Also, try out their Pork Mothuk which is nothing but pork thukpa with a couple of steamed pork dim sums. Their Lhasa Pork had also impressed me a lot, the dish had juicy pork meat sautéed with onion rings and garnished with loads of cilantro on top. They prepare a decent Chilli Pork, which goes pretty well with their pork noodles. You can also try their Crackling Pork with Jasmine Rice (available at Sector-5 outlet). Those handsome porky chunks (with a nice balance of fat and lean meat), aromatic jasmine rice, veggies give this meal in a bowl a touch of warmth and comfort!
For Japanese Pork Ramen fans
Coming to Pork Ramen, very few people in Kolkata actually appreciate the subtle flavors of a Japanese Ramen. In Saltlake, both Local Gourmet and Momo I Am (Café I Am) prepare pretty nice Pork Ramen with nice balance and soothing flavors. At Momo I Am (Saltlake Sector 5 outlet), you get this authentic bowl of ramen noodles in a comforting overnight simmered broth that’s topped with loads of diced pork (concentrating more on the lean meat), greens and that gooey egg, and you get this dish at just INR 270/- which is somewhat unbelievable, to say the least!
More must-have Porky delights in Saltlake
Well, I have been saving my favorite pocket-friendly joint called ‘Hungry Tide’ for the end. I order almost every week from their Saltlake outlet and they have been the most consistent player serving awesome pork dishes for quite some time now. They prepare the best Dry Chilli Pork in Saltlake / Newtown area, and who can forget their signature dish called ‘Bacon and Ham Diffried Rice’! I order this dish every now and then and I have recommended it to God knows how many people! It has got small-grained rice tossed with small porky bits and finely chopped capsicum, that’s it, no other veggies or proteins is added. And let me tell you, it tastes absolutely out of this world! By far the best fried rice (of any form) I have tasted here in Kolkata!
Also if you are looking for some porky burgers here in Saltlake, you can head to three places and you need not look any further – Local Gourmet, Burger in Law, and Steak Factory. Personally, I really liked meaty burgers from Local Gourmet and Burger in Law, with Local Gourmet having an edge because they use awesome fresh ingredients and have got options for health-conscious folks as well.
As of today, there are few more restaurant and 5-star properties in Saltlake serving a couple of Pork dishes like Afraa Restaurant, Hyatt Regency, Chowman, Capella (AltAir), Terminal 11, Five Mad Men, etc though pork is not dominating in their menu. Please let me know if I have missed any eatery (located in Saltlake, Kolkata) in my list where awesome pork dishes are served and maybe I am unaware of that place. I would be more than happy to know more about such places!
Disclaimer: The article has been written based on my personal dining experiences over the past several years. This article is not a sponsored post and has not been written to promote or malign any restaurant, it has been written based on my personal experiences collected over a long period of time. I am not responsible for any modification or removal of these mentioned items from the menu by the respective restaurant management/authority.