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The city today has many takers for Bengali cuisine but despite a mushrooming of Bengali restaurants, few have made it to the top-notch category. Whenever we talk about a Bengali restaurant, it is Bhojohori Manna or 6 Ballygunje Place which comes at the first recall. Then Oh! Calcutta peeps in with an afterthought that the food is quite anglicized. Kewpie’s is also there and Aaheli is, after all, 5-star pricing. In all this, very quietly and secretively, Sonar Tori had been operating at Raichak on the Ganges for a number of years now. As you enter through a labyrinth of an old Zamindar house in rural Bengal, the art and the décor and the overall feel of the place overwhelms you. They serve 2 kinds of Thalis and each one is packed with dishes which are close to a Bong’s heart and soul and are packed with flavours and of course, proteins. Having said that, unless you are staying at the property, it does not make much sense to drive all the way for just a thali. The distance is always a deterrent.
Sonar Tori makes a foray in mainland through their latest outlet in City Centre 1. It is located in the hustle and bustle of this shopping centre but the minute you step in, it is a different world altogether. This outlet is modelled on a Zamindar house with a rich and opulent décor. Red velvet lined walls, gold inlays, glass chandeliers, wooden furniture, antique wall art and the works are all on display. There are 2 private dining areas which have beautiful Kantha work displayed along with vintage lamps and old picture frames. There is a small patio overlooking the shopping area. The patio, I reckon would become quite a sort after dining space in the winters.
The menu is cleverly crafted with the popular dishes holding space alongside some lost and forgotten recipes. Food from the various districts of West Bengal and some interesting dishes from across the border feature as well. A lot of care has been given in procuring the right ingredients. The quality of the food is top notch and the food simply shines. Food is served in brass plates and bowls, enhancing the dining experience. 'Jhuri Jhuri Loitte Mach Bhaja' is a terrific dish which goes well with rice as well as on its own. The deep fried fish is mashed up with various spices and is quite lip smacking. Echorer Cutlet, Pur Bhora Bhetki, Hansher Dimer Pakoda, Machher Jhuri, Mangher Sutli Kebab, Mete Chorchori, Deshi Murgir Jhol are some of the dishes uncommon dishes available here. You can even try some Posto Murgi with Gobindobhog Rice or Lucchi and Chholar Dal. Out of everything, the flavours of the dal are weaved together with a dash of ghee with a tad of sweetness making it a perfect side dish.
Here too, they have several thali options, out of which the corporate thali option is the perfect choice for one person and is very price friendly with unlimited quantity of food even for the non-vegetarian dishes. Both in a la carte and thali, one is spoilt for a choice. In the desserts, Daber Sondesh is splendid and a must have dish. It is very low in sugar yet so delicious. It has a layer of daab or tender coconut malai steamed and topped with chhena and coconut malai - pure and unadulterated.
It took a few years for Sonar Tori to travel from Raichak on the Ganges to City Centre 1. It shows a lot of promise in not just the ambience and décor but also the quality of the food, the taste as well as the overall service and experience. We wish it all the best.