Kolkata’s Old Chinatown or Terreti Bazaar is one of the city’s key attractions for visitors. As the only Chinatown of this kind in India, Terreti Bazaar safeguards a slice of Kolkata’s unique cultural heritage – that of the local Chinese immigrant community. The city has been home to a bustling Chinese Indian population since the early 19th century, which at some point was 20,000 strong but now has dwindled to about 2000.
Of all the things Kolkata’s iconic Old Chinatown is known for, the impressive variety of mouthwatering street food must be the most significant. The most popular items you will find here are momos or dumplings stuffed with beef, pork, chicken, seafood or vegetables. These are either steamed and served with clear soup or fried to a crisp and served with a sauce. Hearty, delicious and made with love, momos are among Kolkata’s finest street foods. Other delicacies you will find on the busy streets of this historic neighborhood include delicious handmade sausages usually made with pork, stuffed buns, pork rolls and wontons. The bazaar opens around 6.30 am if you are looking to have an exceptionally satisfying breakfast.
Tucked away in the quieter backstreets of Old Chinatown are six historic Chinese Temples used for worship and gathering by the city’s Chinese Indian community. Among these are the Sea Ip Church, built in 1905 and dedicated to the Kwan Yin, the Goddess of war, mercy and love. The city’s oldest Chinese Temple, Nam Soon Church, is located quite nearby and dates as far back as 1820. With a spacious courtyard and intricate décor, the temple is a spectacular place to visit if you can . Other temples in the area include the Choonghee Dong Thien Haue Church and the Gee Hing Church, both built in the nineteenth century, as well as the Toong On Church and the Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Church, dating to the early twentieth century.
Terreti Bazar is also one of the best spots in the city to find fresh meat, seafood as well as other produce. To get your hands on the fresh catch of the day before anyone else does, make sure to head to the market in the morning. Offering a range of items from shiitake mushrooms to fresh flowers, the Bazaar can satisfy almost all your shopping needs.
Of all the stores and streetside stalls you will find in Terreti Bazaar, make sure to stop at Hap Hing Co, Chinese Provision & Medicine Stores – considered by locals to be the oldest shop in Chinatown. Selling a wide variety of items from tea, dried fruits, and rice noodles to medicinal herbs, and run by the very knowledgeable Stella Chen, the store opens as early as breakfast at the Bazaar – around 6am and shuts at around 10pm.
If you are looking for flavorful, innovative sauces to spice up your cooking, then Pou Chong will be nothing short of paradise. With numerous rows and shelves displaying sauces of every color and consistency, the store is part of Pou Chong Brothers – the oldest Chinese sauce manufacturing company in India.