Being raised a Bengali, in West Bengal, comes with one quintessential emotion — love for the mountains and hills. Be it Darjeeling, Gangtok, Sikkim or even Mirik, the pleasure of gazing at the Kangchenjunga is unparalleled, heightened further when accompanied by food.
Keeping this in mind, 54-year-old social entrepreneur Neil Law has opened Dzomsa: The Himalayan Experience, at a cosy corner of Hindustan Road.
Law wants to give his patrons a place where they could get much more than food. “Dzomsa means ‘meeting place’ in Sikkimese. I wanted to give the people visiting us everything I have to offer — tea, tourism and food, which lead to the concept of the Himalayan experience,” he said.
Entering Dzomsa, one can feel a sense of calm, and the first thing you notice is the huge photograph of the Himalayan peaks. The ‘meeting place’ is dotted with art from the hills and the tableware of the restaurant highlights handicrafts from the hills. From the cane cutlery holders to the chair covers, thought has gone into every corner of this eatery.
The food brings classic Chinese delicacies usually found only in the likes of Tung Nam and Eau Chew to south Kolkata — from the wok of Huang Man Tan, lovingly called chef Henry by all.
“I called Henry up and said ‘what can we do?’ And we came up with a menu that is representative of Tiretta Bazaar. From soups, yam wantons, siu mai and more, our menu showcases those dishes rather than the Tangra Chinese food,” shared Law.
My Kolkata brings you a taste of the menu:
Fish Ball Soup
A classic from Tiretta Bazaar, this fish ball soup is very unlike the ones you might have had for breakfast on your last visit to the area. The fish balls are spongy and slightly chewy, while the broth is fragrant and hearty. The soup doesn’t have a pungent fishy smell, but is aromatic. It also has veggies like Chinese cabbage and bok choy, which add great texture and crunch.
Pork Siu Mai
This dish is a delight for all dim sum lovers. Served with a spicy chilli Schezwan sauce, the siu mai are hand-wrapped and filled with a flavourful pork filling. They are steamed and juicy – munch on them while they are steaming hot for the perfect bite.
Fried Wontons and Yam Wontons
If you’re bored of eating momos and want to try something new, don’t skip these wantons. The fried wontons (left) are crispy, crunchy and juicy on the inside, while the yam wontons are gently steamed. The soft and silky tails of the wontons make for the perfect morsel, complementing the filling on the inside. Served with steamed bok choy, this dish is recommended.
Sliced Chicken Pak Choi
This dish is a great accompaniment to your choice of rice or noodles. The flavours are mild, but full of umami. Every bite gets better than the last because the sauce is light and coats all the veggies, which are crunchy while the chicken is tender.
Chinese Sausage Fried Rice and Singapore Rice Noodles
This Chinese sausage fried rice (left) is one of our favourite dishes at this eatery. Fragrant rice is tossed with crispy Chinese sausages packed with spices — cinnamon being the dominant flavour. The rice is fluffy, and accompanied by the sausage, makes for a humble yet fulfilling meal. The Singapore rice noodles on the other hand is bouncy and chewy, making the texture different from regular noodles.
Sonam Paljor Lama prepares tea
Dzomsa not only whips up comfort food, but also offers a unique experience in the tea room. The special tea ritual called Gongfu is performed by Sonam Paljor Lama, who has trained in this art in China.
“The ritual is all about returning to the ancient art of appreciating tea as a medicine, not a beverage. The tea pot, tea leaves, temperature of the water, and even the kind of water we use all play a part in the ritual. Everything we use in the ritual must be made of clay or bamboo,” said Lama.
When you book a tea ritual session, Lama takes your date of birth and selects the perfect tea for you based on Chinese astrology.
Techniques of the Gongfu ritual
“The ritual is all about the five elements, so there must be balance between those. When I am serving the tea, my aura and energy is getting transferred to you through that. It is a unique and sacred experience,” explained the tea master.
This eatery is not just a place where one can head to for a hearty meal, but also to experience the Himalayas and its culture from Kolkata. One can buy various kinds of teas grown in the Northeast while also chatting with Neil to know all about how to plan the perfect getaway to the hills.
Dzomsa: The Himalayan Experience is located at 33C, Hindustan Road, Kolkata – 700029. (Near Kasturi restaurant, Dover Lane)