The Flying Monk
Woodburn Park Road, Calcutta 700020
Meal for two: Rs 1,800
Does Calcutta need yet another Chinese restaurant? Probably not. But The Flying Monk is different: created around the charming legend of a food-loving flying monk, who brings back the choicest delicacies from all the places he flies to, it offers an eclectic range of East Asian dishes, fine-tuned for the Calcutta palate. A lot of work has evidently gone into the restaurant: first, an elaborate test kitchen was set up, where, over a period of six months, chef Swatantra apparently tested and researched five hundred dishes, of which one-fifth finally made it to the menu (they’re particularly proud of their range of sauces, specially created to complement the dishes and bring out their flavours).
The house speciality is the Peking Duck, but we decided instead to order a variety of starters: sweet-and-sour pomelo salad, crisp panko prawns, dumpling-like lamb kothe, and aromatic duck pancakes—each with its own set of accompanying sauces. We followed this with garlic rice and chicken hotpot, redolent with star anise. Then, finally, Kahlua mousse and a huoshan that oozed molten chocolate at the touch of a spoon. Two problems at any East Asian restaurant are the vegetarian menu and the desserts, but the airborne monk offers an excellent choice of both. The food is good, and the value proposition cleverly worked out, offering food you would expect from a fine-dining restaurant, but without the fine-dining prices. Hao chi, as they say in Mandarin.