Home > Calcutta (Kolkata), Calcutta (Kolkata) Chinatown, General > Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Chinese Breakfast

Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Also see: My blog post on Calcutta (Kolkata) Chinatown

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Its early Sunday morning and sun is yet to come out, but the stoves are already fired up and the morning silence is broken by the sound of the knife hitting the chopping plate.

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Night owls crawl out of their late night parties and call centre night shifts to rejuvenate themselves with bowls of hot fish ball soups from the road side vendors. Hungry soles huddle around makeshift stall, jostling with each other to grab the day’s first meal. 

Both side of the thoroughfare, are lined with stacks of momo containers, containing steaming momos with pork, chicken and shrimp stuffing. Sausages hung from ropes tied to lamp post like fancy lights. Yes, its breakfast time, Chinatown Calcutta !!!!

Dimsums and momos are always the most sort after items. Spring rolls and pork sausages are not far behind. Pau, the ball shaped over sized dumpling, which comes with all sorts of pork, chicken, and fish filling is definitely on the must have list.

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

Chinese Breakfast, Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar), Calcutta (Kolkata)

The food is cooked in home style following the authentic Chinese recipe and are served with homely warmth. The place has a laid back attitude, with elderly Chinese reading the Chinese newspaper and sipping on cups of green tea and women talking about the latest gossip in Chinatown.

In the recent years the Chinese Breakfast has become extremely popular but sadly popularity has its ill effects too. Many have the age old Chinese stall have stop selling pork items and ingredients and recopies have been modified to meet the requirement of Indian, or Calcutta (Kolkata) taste buds. Even stall selling puri – bhajis and other standard Indian breakfast items have also sprung up.

Paus, Dim sums & Sausages. Chinese Breakfast, Chinatown, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Paus, Dim sums & Sausages. Chinese Breakfast, Chinatown, Calcutta (Kolkata)

The Chinese connection to the city dates back almost 250 years. In the late 18th century a Chinese tea trader by the name of Tong Achew landed on the banks of Hooghly, somewhere near present day Budge – Budge (about 30 km south of Calcutta). He fell in love with the place and decided never to return again. He applied for land which was granted by the Governor General Warren Hastings.

Entrance of Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store

Entrance of Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store

According to records to British East India Company “Achew was granted 650 bighas of land about 6 miles south of Budge – Budge for an annual rent of Rs 45.” After acquiring the land Achew set up a sugar – cane plantation along with a sugar mill. He brought in a band of Chinese workers to work in his plantation and factory and thus forming the first Chinese settlement in India.

But Achew died soon after and his sugar factory was abandoned. His workers left for the city of Calcutta, where their descendents still continue to live. The place came to be known as Achipur after Tong Achew. Sadly today apart from a Chinese Temple and Achew’s horse shoe shaped grave Achipur has no Chinese connection.

Items at Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store

Items at Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store

It’s definitely not a fine dining experience. Timing is odd as the breakfast literally starts at the rooster’s first call and ends before the first public bus rolls out of the terminal. Every thing is served out of make shift stall and eaten on the pavements and people concerned about hygiene must keep away. But in spite all odds the Chinese Breakfast of Old Chinatown in Tiretta Bazar, Calcutta (Kolkata) can well rate among the most sought after breakfast of the country.

Stella Chen, Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store

Stella Chen, Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store

No trip to the Chinese Breakfast of Tiretta Bazar is complete with out a visit to  Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision & Medicine Stores, which can well remind one of Diagon Alley of Harry Potter. It is a place to stock up authentic Chinese ingredients and try the recopies at home.

The inside of the pre – independence store, is dark and smoky, the black polished wooden shelves are stacked with the most amazing oriental provisions. Exotic green tea,  pickled plums, rice noodle, orange peels, sun dried mushrooms, pink edged prawn wafers  you name it and Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store has it. Hap Hing Co. also stores a unique assortment of Chinese Medicine from the ever popular Tiger Balm to strange medicated oils with miraculous cures.

Run by Stella Chen, who prefers to use a abacus instead of a pocket calculator, is a gazette of information on Calcutta’s Chinese community. A extremely friendly lady always in the lookout of striking a conversation about the glorious days of Calcutta Chinatown.

 

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  1. June 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Came across your blog from the “Calcutta – Photographs and Memories”. Thoroughly enjoyed this post; for some reason I have come across very few blogs (apart from my own) that gives due emphasis to street food. Just wanted to say, do please post more on offbeat street food.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Dear Abhik Majumdar, thanks for your comments.

      Calcutta has a rich culture of street food, I do have plans for more posts.

  2. June 12, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Dear Rangan. Thank you for the wonderful article on Chinese breakfast food in Old Chinatown, Tiretti Bazar. Hopefully the authorities would give permission so that we could have clean, hygienic Chinese snack food throughout the day in a more organised way like a Chinese food street plaza.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM

      Thanks Pouchong (Dominic) Lee for your corporation and warm hospitality.

      These things have to be taken care of:
      1. Hygiene
      2. Not only breakfast but also evening snacks
      3. Separate place for the vegetable and raw fish and chicken market.

  3. didas1953
    June 12, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    ADDRESS of Hap Hing Co., Chinese Provision Store, Pl.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      Thanks didas1953 for showing interest in my Calcutta Chinese Breakfast post

      No 10 Sunyat Sen Street, Tiretta Bazar. Any one in the region can show you the place.

  4. June 12, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Hello
    Was referenced to here from http://www.gourmetindia.com/topic/132-foodways-of-west-bengal/ , do drop by.

  5. June 12, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Excellent and well written post !

  6. June 12, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Yes I recall this occurring in my own lifetime in Calcutta. From school days in 1970 till 1985. In between contracts out @ sea, I’d return to Tirretta Bazaar. And the famed Bakakhanis from a nearby situated baker. The BEST BREAKFAST one could imagine.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:13 PM

      Dear Peter Nicklette, thanks for sharing your experience of Chinese Breakfast of Calcutta.

  7. rajmita
    June 12, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    rangan da….this article was wonderfully detailed and specially liked the photos. i i have heard about this place from many of my friends but never got the opportunity to visit n taste the delicacy due to its odd timings….nevertheless with due hope i keep my fingers crossed to hear that in future it will be an open snacks bazaar throughout the day.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      There are plans to revive the Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar region) of Calcutta. Initiatives have already been taken and hoe to see the Old Chinatown of Calcutta in its full glory !!!!!

  8. rajmita
    June 12, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    rangan da…really i second one more bloggers thought that you can come up with some more offbeat street food bazaar or joints….. or just the famous puchkawalas n jhalmuriwalas of our city of joy!!!! it will be awesome…..

    • June 13, 2013 at 5:53 AM

      Who from Calcutta could ever forget the Puchkawallas & Jhalmuriwallas, with their totally secret ways of creating a fantastic, mouthwatering snack. pocket money was saved & kept for this sole purpose after school @ 3pm on the way home. Even the Churanwalla was a great tasty treat, however needed to be taken in small doses or else dire consequences would occur…….hahahahah.

      • Michael
        June 16, 2013 at 12:12 AM

        I could never forget those days waiting to eat Puchkawas during 4pm and waiting for Aloo-Chaat.. OMG Churanwalla memories cannot be forgetten during my childhood days putting the churan on the thumb and sucking it hahaha.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Dear Teesta (Rajnita) the puchkawalas and jhalmuriwalas are always there but there are dozens of street foods which majority of Calcuttans are not aware off. Hope to share some this in my blog in the near future.

  9. June 13, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    Thank you very much, Rangan. Very good documentation.

  10. Subhadeep
    June 13, 2013 at 4:54 AM

    Rangan…great article. There was a time when I was a frequent visitor here (almost 10 years back before I left Cal) and momos used to sell for 1 buck. Also, we used to get roast pork grilled right in front of you from patios of houses….Miss those times and the wonderful food….nostalgia!

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      Dear Subhadeep, you are right there was no plate system in those days, momos and other dim – sums were sold per piece. But things have changed and it plate system.

      • June 14, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        Even the Puchkas were served up in a Leaf Folded in on itself so we didn’t lose too much of the Yummy Tamarind water :-)
        Tangra was also known for it’s Chinese cuisine. Many school friends lived out that way too. However the Jhalmuri was served in a little paper bag, depending on the size of ones’ order.
        Cheers to you Rangan, you’ve done a good job in restarting the mouthwatering & craving happening……he he heh!

  11. June 13, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Wonderful stuff. I still remember the old chinese shoes market. Today for authentic Indian Chinese food I go to Tangra whenever I visit Kolkata.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      Tangara is the New Chinatown of Calcutta it came up about 80 years ago when the tanneries were shifted from the centre of the city to the Eastern fringes of Tangra.

      But one thing I must say (although its a personal opinion), you will definitely miss the warmth of the Trietta Bazar Chinese Breakfast in Tangra.

  12. June 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Well Documented article. Good to see that you included the photograph of Stella Chen too.

  13. aamjunta
    June 13, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    You have captured the right one. By the way, this was featured in BBC some time back.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:28 PM

      Thanks aamjunta. The Chinese Breakfast have featured not only in BBC but other top channels including Fox Traveller.

  14. Pramita Sur Talukdar
    June 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Just loved it.

    • June 20, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Thanks Paramita, who don’t you drop in for the Chinese Breakfast one day.

  15. June 15, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Thank You Rangan, lovely subject and lively pictures. Thanks again.
    Cliff

    • June 20, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Thanks Cliff for the inspiring comment.

  16. Michael
    June 16, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Left Calcutta more than 20 years and i have never been back again.. hoping to be back in India soon because I want to go to Madras and Bangalore plus Potta for the Blessing of the Divine Mercy – Hoping and waiting the Lord will take me soon to India.

    • June 20, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Thanks Michael for the comment. Do visit Calcutta during your India tour.

  17. Champa Bhowmick
    June 27, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    Thank you rangan for the link. I have enjoyed reading on Chinese Breakfast. Photos are also good. Do we need any permission to shoot anywhere ? Please E mail
    Regards
    Champa Bhowmick

  18. July 4, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Thanks Ms Champa Bhowmik for your words of appreciation. There is no restriction in shooting.

  19. titask9
    August 20, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Was searching for some info about the breakfast at Tirettabazar, and chanced upon your blog. Thanks for all the info. Have to plan our outing real early, since you say it’s all over quite soon! But where exactly is this place located? Accessible via car? Or is it too crowded ?

    Regards,
    Titas Kar
    titask9.blogspot.in

    • October 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      Thanks Titas fro your comment.

      You can take your car and park infront of Poddar Court and walk a couple of yards to the Chinese Breakfast.

  20. October 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Great article, and thanks for writing this up. I used to visit this place regularly back in 1994-95, and went back during my last trip to Calcutta in March 2013, this time with a Chinese-American friend. To those of us who grew up in Calcutta, or for those on whom Calcutta grew on them (like me – and anyone who has spent a sufficient length of time in Calcutta, knows that the city grows on you until you fall in love with the place), this is a great experience. However, to my friend it was an unnecessarily shocking experience – he recently remarked that all of Calcutta was a huge garbage dump to him. What can we do to make Tiretta Bazaar the truly international tourist experience that it deserves to be?

    • October 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      Dear Asutosh Chatterji, your friends experience is nothing unusal and very much logical.

      But there is some good news. Certain plans are being taken up to revamp the Tiretta Bazar region and convert it into a Chinatown.

      Hope the plan comes true.

  21. October 31, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Great read. I went to the Chinese breakfast a couple of years back on a weekday morning and must say that the experience didn’t live up to the romance associated with the place. Very few stalls, the locale was rather mucky, food was limited…seemed to be a sad reminder of what were probably more glorious times. Would be great if an initiative is taken to bring this alive again

    • November 14, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      You are right Kalyan, the Indian Chinese Cuisine has made in roads in the Tiretta Bazar Chinese Breakfast too.

      It is hard to believe shops advertising “No Pork No Beef!!!!!”

      But there is some good news their are plans of revamp of the Chhinatown in Tiretta Bazar.

  22. Sagnik Chakraborty
    April 23, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    What a wonderfully well-researched and well-written article! A good read about good food. :-) And yes, I share the same concern regarding the revival and improvement of the place! Let’s have authentic Chinese food back.

    • May 3, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Thanks Sagnik for the inspiring comment. Looking forward for the Kolkata Chinatown Revival.

  23. May 10, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Your blog was reco’d by a friend who’s lived in Cal most of his adult life but has now relocated. I was unable to find proper information online (tripadvisor) about places to visit, photograph and basically enjoy. Your blog has provided that and more. Planning out a new itinerary keeping your blog as the reference point.

    Thanks a ton! Seeing new aspects of this charming city courtesy you.

    Please do post more nuggets about Cal, it’ll be very helpful even for those who’ve been living here for ages.!

    • June 21, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Nice to know that my blog helped you to prepare your Calcutta travel itinerary.

      If you need more info, do drop me a mail.

      Wishing you a great time in Calcutta

      • June 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        Thank you Rangan. My folks were surprised to know I wanted to visit the South Park Street Cemetary post reading your blog. Will tackle more places on each trip.

  24. May 31, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Hap Hing has been closed the last three four times I visited Tiretty Bazar – it was one of the few shops which stocked Wood-ear fungus and would get me goji berry if I asked.

    On another note, its not Pau, its a BAO. Also, there are a few delicacies like the banana leaf parcels with rice and pork in it, sweet mung bean stuffed fried goods, spring rolls, and fishball soup. They are not available every day, but they are there.

    • June 21, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Dear Poorna, Hap Hing does not open every day because of the advancing age of its proprietor Stella Chen. But it is open generally on weekdays 9 – 12 in the morning.

      Frankly speaking I have never heard of wood ear fungus and goji berry, it would be nice if you can share some recipes in your blog.

      Is the PAO is actually BAO, but generally it is called pao. I head the banana leaf parcel of Pork and rice and it probably had some dal also, I didn’t like it much.

      I also had korola (bitter groud) stuffed with pork meat and steamed, it tasted delicious. But this item is not available regularly and it was specially ordered for me by a Chinese friend.

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