Friends of Pho in Kolkata has a whole new pan-Asian platter
BRIGHTLY painted Kokeshi dolls greeted us at the entrance to Friends of Pho, a newly opened South Asian diner at Chinar Park, near City Centre II in Rajarhat. Named after the Vietnamese noodle soup, pho, this 106- seater diner is spread across a sprawling 3,500 sq ft. Just as we entered, we stumbled upon a van painted in bright green and yellow, akin to the food trucks plying on the roads in Thailand. This will be a watering hole when the diner gets its bar license, we are told. As we tucked ourselves into a red leather couch and looked around the brilliantly done up floral walls, we were served a Cranberry Mojito, a refreshing version of the regular mojito with a cranberry twist, albeit non-alcoholic. Besides other interesting mocktails, there is also an array of exotic teas on offer here.
The menu has select dishes from China, Japan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, which have been tweaked to suit the Indian palate. “Cooking is an art, and it allows for a lot of experimentation. Our chef Sujan Shrestha has taken great care to curate the menu in a way that appeals to the gastronomes of Kolkata,” offered Geetika Sinha, the well-travelled young director of the eatery. We then tasted the Veg Schezwan Mushroom dumplings and Shanghai chicken dumplings, alongside the creamy, flavourful Tom Kha chicken soup with a coconut milk base. The Water Chestnut Bamboo Shoot Nuggets with honey chilli sauce were crispy and made for great starters. The Friends of Pho special chilli chicken had a crisp coating with a distinct nutty flavour that tantalised our taste buds.
For the main dish, we were served the Indonesian Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish, which looked quite similar to Bhetki Paturi (fish marinated with mustard sauce, steamed in a banana leaf). This was followed by the popular Thai dish, Jasmine sticky rice and chicken red curry. Cooked to perfection, the aroma of Thai herbs was overpowering and further whetted our appetite. The dishes were cooked to suit our palate, with the use of less coconut milk. The food trail came to an end on a sweet note with the exotic Lemon Grass Creme brûlée served with a sprinkling of caramelised sugar. It was smooth and creamy, and the distinct hint of lemon grass made it simply sublime.
Meal for two approx `1,200 + taxes.