The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Restaurant review: SOI

Kolkata is deservingly called the gastronomic capital of India. However, a comprehensive range of quality Thai food is limited to only a few restaurants including Ban Thai and Benjarong.

Enters SOI – The Asian Street Kitchen located inside Zaranj, the reputed fine-dining north Indian restaurant next to Indian Museum on Chowringhee. Few years back, right there used to be a fine-dining Asian cuisine restaurant called Jong’s. I liked its Chinese food on one visit.

I recently stepped in on invitation for a blogger meet to sample its food. It is a large space classily decorated in wood and beige tiles exuding the warmth of a relaxed dining and an old-world charm. The tables and cosy chairs are nicely spaced out. The owners have left their signature in the look and feel. The hand-painted wall tiles about various Asian travel destinations lend it a character.

As you look around, what will definitely draw your attention is the truck bar (which is apart from the old-world main bar done in all wood). It’s an actual truck serving as a bar which was dismantled and flown in from France (You read that right), as Aritra Sen, one of the partners, shared with us.     

The truck bar

They do serve Chinese food too, more as a filler to attract more customers as not everyone may appreciate Thai food, at least till they try it here. So was I with a limited exposure to this cuisine. The only Thai dish that I loved before coming to SOI was sankaya - a pudding I had at Tak Heng.

Our welcome drink was Sweet Thai Basil and Rambutan Caprioska served in a small, nicely-shaped bottle. Vodka mixed with Thai Basil, lychee crush and lemon. The Thai basil added a pleasant herbal touch to the deft interplay of lychee and lemon in the cocktail which worked good for me.

Thai Basil and Rambutan Caprioska

The Satay Kai (pan-seared Chicken satay) was good and the peanut sauce in which it was done added a full-bodied flavour to it topped with herbal notes.

 Satay Kai 

The Tempura Prawn with Sukiyaki and Teriyaki Sauce came next. It was rather flat because instead of tempura batter, the prawns were rolled over diced wonton sheets before being deep fried.

Tempura Prawn with Sukiyaki and Teriyaki Sauce 

The Papaya Salad got thumbs up from me. Diced, crunchy raw papaya and thin strips of red chilli among other vegetables made for a heady mix of tangy and hot and made my nose sweat. A recommendation for salad lovers who can handle real hot stuff!

Papaya Salad

Aritra met us at this juncture and shared bits of info about his passion. He chose to open a restaurant that specializes in Thai cuisine because of dearth of choice in the city. The ‘Asian Street Kitchen’ features in the extended name because they wanted to bring the world-famous Thai street food to Kolkata. To create authentic flavours, they source the ingredients all from handpicked vendors in Thailand. And a Thai lady who Aritra met on one of his trips to the country came over to Kolkata to train the kitchen team. His partner-cum-chef is Raghav Khullar whose father owns Zaranj.

They also use recycled paper instead of table linen in support of green environment and to keep the place spotlessly clean.

Recycled table paper

The main course followed. The Lemon Chicken - the familiar Chinese dish turned out well with tender chicken pieces and finely balanced sourness.

Magsha Moo was a red, spicy pork curry made with the traditional Thai recipe. The strips of juicy pork with button mushroom in the thick gravy checked all the tick boxes for my soft corner for hot and spicy food and went well with the steamed rice on the table topped with kafir lime. Pork lovers can go for it.

Magsha Moo 

Kaeng Moo, the famous Thai curries followed. I tried Phed or red curry first. Another deliciously pungent curry made with coconut milk and boneless flat pieces of pork. I was eager to try Kiew or green curry too as fellow blogger Kirti Mahamia had made her liking for it clear just after trying. The green curry was the perfect contrast to the red curry. The mild-flavoured coconutty curry having a dash of sweetness with flat, boneless lamb pieces paired lovingly with the hot, steamed rice.

 Thai Red Curry

Thai Green Curry

The sumptuous meal ended on a high note with a delectable deconstructed caramel sponge cake teamed with vanilla ice cream.

Deconstructed Caramel Sponge Cake 

To sum up in short, it’s the newest Thai food destination which every foodie with a liking for Thai food or interest to explore the cuisine should visit.

#ThaiCuisine #ThaiFoodKolkata #ThaiRedCurry #ThaiGreenCurry #Magsha

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