5 Best Eating Places in Kolkata (Published in the Economic Times)

My five favourite eating places are Pan Asian at the ITC Sonar , Kewpie's Kitchen, Peter Cat, Mainland China and ,last but not the least, the Dining Room at the Bengal Club.

Pan Asian is an excellent restaurant that offers a wide variety of cuisines:Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Mongolian and one or two Korean dishes.They have a reasonably good wine cellar and a well stocked bar.For a leisurely fine dining experience it is difficult to beat Pan Asian. I usually go for Thai.

The restaurant has a number of excellent chefs who are willing to step out of the set menu and cook something special to suit your taste and your palate.For example, my favourite dish is Red Duck Jungle Curry which is not on the menu.But the Thai Chef who is affectionately called "Mama" cooks it lovingly for us. She creates an exquisite and delectable dish -the like of which I have not tasted anywhere in India. Whenever I can find time on a Sunday, we go for the Brunch at Pan-Asian which is a huge spread of a variety of dishes from Japanese Yakitori and Sushi to Thai curries, Chinese dim sums, Mongolian stir fries and many more. The brunch is washed down with sparkling wine or a selection of cocktails which are included in the price!

Kewpie's Kitchen is another favourite place we go to eat. It is tucked inside a residential area not far from Netaji Bhavan . It is a family-style restaurant serving genuine Bengali cuisine faithfully cooked in conformity with authentic recipes of the late Kewpie Dasgupta.It has revived nostalgic dishes like the Goalanda Chicken (a.k.a the steamer chicken). It is the fabled hot, red curry cooked in the traditions of the sarengis (sailors) in the steamers that plied the waters of Bengal before it was partitioned.Of course you have dishes like luchi,kosha mangsho and so on and the best way to enjoy the meal is to order a basic thali and add on dishes of your choice. I knew the founder and have been going to Kewpie's Kitchen for several years. The staff are friendly and you feel at home when dining.

Peter Cat is another restaurant off-Park Street that I like a lot. I never look at the menu when I go to Peter Cat -every time I order the same dishes one of which has to be the exquisite Chicken Marrakesh. In the old days some one brought this seedling of Moroccan cuisine which has survived and blossomed amongst the largely local Kolkata clients.

Mainland China is also a favourite eating place for us specially when the group is a more than 5. We usually try the Peking Duck and unlike many Chinese restaurants in India-the dish is a complete meal with duck soup, the duck in the pancake and a duck meat dish complete with rice.

The last but not the least by any means is the dining room of the Bengal Club. I probably have some bias in favour of this dining room as a past President of the Club.The ambience of the room and the food served transports you back into a different, unhurried age.You have large oil paintings of Englishmen who were patrons and office-bearers of the club in the colonial days.Once we had invited the Chief Minister to tea and on showing him around the club he wondered why the paintings of our colonial masters were still hanging there. I remember having told him that in the old days dogs and Indians were not allowed in the club. Now only dogs are not allowed. And those who prevented Indians from entering the club are now hanging on the walls unable to prevent us from us having a hearty meal just under their nose. It is their punishment. History cannot be changed and Bengal Club is steeped in history and tradition. If you wish to have an authentic continental meal in Kolkata that is traditional and authentic and unpolluted by fusion cuisine -the place to go is the Dining Room of The Bengal Club .My family and I never miss the Christmas lunch which arguably the best in town complete with glazed ham, roast turkey, roast lamb, baked fish and traditional Christmas pudding with flamed brandy.