Allen Kitchen Restaurant – Great Food, History And The Special Prawn Cutlet

When Late Jiban Krishna Saha became the owner of Mr. Allen’s restaurant in the late 19th century, had he any idea that more than 130 years later this place would be one of the favorite drooling dens for the food lovers of the city? Well, that we will never know. But we can always visit Allen Kitchen to taste the finest fries which made them what they are today 🙂 The current address, which started as a branch more than 50 years ago (in the year 1958 to be precise), is now their only outlet serving delicious Prawn, Fish and Chicken items.

Jiban Krishna Saha - Founder, Allen Kitchen

Jiban Krishna Saha – Founder, Allen Kitchen

Allen Kitchen got its name from the Scot Mr. Allen, but the Sahas made it what it is today. The Special Prawn Cutlet, which, according to the foodies, is the best in the city, was invented by Jiban Krishna Saha and is a hot favorite still today! I was sitting with Mr. Goutam Saha, the great grandson of the founder and the fourth generation at Allen Kitchen as he was sharing some info about the place. The eatery is currently run by Manicklal, Hiralal and Biren Saha, three grandsons of Jiban Krishna, Hiralal’s son Dipak and Biren’s son Goutam.

Without hesitation I started my journey with the famous Prawn Cutlet. Inside the Ghee fried covering the juicy prawns and the soft filling actually melts in the mouth. Pure delight! What I liked best, it was really very juicy, appropriate for a prawn dish. While enjoying the cutlet I started reading their menu card.

 

Special Prawn Cutlet

Special Prawn Cutlet

Allen Kitchen Menu

Allen Kitchen Menu

Fish Cutlet

Fish Cutlet

Compared to millions of small eateries in the town, the menu at Allen is quite short. But you will have a tough time deciding what to order. Of course the Prawn Cutlet is the all time favorite, but the Fish Cutlet, Fish Roll, Chicken Stack or Devil are nothing less satisfying. Most of their special items are fried in Ghee (clarified butter) and not oil, which adds to the taste. Ask for a recipe and you will hit dead end instantly. They are well kept secrets and the main tasks are handled by the family members only.

Goutam Saha's Catering Service

Goutam Saha’s Catering Service

Allen Kitchen is a favorite name among Kolkata foodies but the family behind it is not very keen for publicity. They know their job very well and they prefer to do that only. But surely they have become synonymous with food and restaurant. Goutam Saha started his career as a chef in a five star Mumbai hotel and Manicklal’s son Debabrata is a successful restaurateur in Toronto, Canada (Popular as Debu Saha, he owns Debu’s Nouvelle Indian Cuisine and The Biryani House). Goutam Saha have also started a multicuisine catering service and we can hope to enjoy some Allen specialties at our private parties too 🙂

Next it was turn for yet another Ghee fried specialty. The Fish Cutlet! Great taste, good size and fat filling. Boy! I loved it 😛 Just look at the image and you can have an idea of how fat the fish fillet is. It is not the regular fry or cutlet where the fillet is slim and the remaining portion filled up with keema masala.

Allen Kitchen

Allen Kitchen

Allen Kitchen Board

Allen Kitchen Board

The restaurant was initially in Allen Market on Chitpur. The current address (40/1, Jatindra Mohan Avenue) started as a branch. The old shop in the meantime was shifted to a new place nearby and finally closed down early 1992. For the seasoned Calcutta foodies Allen Kitchen needs no introduction. But for the new gang let’s see how we can reach this place.

From the Sovabazar Metro / Grey Street (now Aurobinda Sarani) four point crossing start walking towards Girish Park taking the left side footpath. Leaving three narrow lanes to the left and walking for about 3 minutes will take you in front of a green colored gate with the Allen Kitchen board hanging from it. It’s a small place with the outer room serving as the kitchen and a inner dining room. Do not expect anything flashy. Just order some great food which are served cleanly and enjoy the heavenly taste. The place remains open from 4pm to 9pm, but try to reach before seven if you don’t want to hear out of stock while ordering anything.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Hiralal and son Dipak busy preparing fries

Hiralal and son Dipak busy preparing fries

Six pieces of ghee fried fish pakoras were what I was attacking next 😛 I just wanted to try all the items in the menu. But both the pocket and my stomach refused to support me. They were moving in the opposite directions and I was forced to order the last dish 🙁

I was asking Goutam da about the new additions in the menu and he advised Chicken Stack. I liked the name and liked the dish more as it arrived. Minced chicken fried and then cooked on a light, sweet gravy with onions. It looked like a lighter version of Chicken Afgani, though was quite different in taste mainly because of the gravy. A must try 🙂

 

Chicken Stack

Chicken Stack

Fish Pakora

Fish Pakora

I will be back very soon to taste the other items in the menu and write about them. Meanwhile try the delicacies yourself and let me know what you think about them. I am sure you will just love them. Happy eating 🙂

Update

They have renovated the dining area. So its cleaner now.

Also going through the new menu card I found they have renamed Chicken Stack as Chicken Steak and I understood it was not a new name as I thought earlier, but was misspelled 🙂 Not the common steak, it was made with minced meat. Anyway what’s in the name? Enjoy it 🙂

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47 Comments

Avik Sanyal

Good job with the blog! Kolkata lacks its share of food blogs and yours is a welcome relief…Try forming a gang with fellow foodies so that you could cover more of the Kolkata food scene.

Best,
Avik

Reply
Sumit

Thanks for your comment Avik! Will try and cover as much as possible. My wife and I love to try everything that is available – from raw octopus to chicken kebab. Hope you will like the rest of the content and the future posts too 🙂

Reply
Sumit

Thanks for your comment Kallol. North Calcutta have quite a few joints which serve mouth watering dishes as well as have quite some history to tell. Will try to write about more such places in the near future.

Reply
kallol

Thanks sumit.
I have tried the prawn cutlet along with the fish kabiraji.Never had a prawn cutlet like that before.Reminded me of the famous slogan of maggi tomato ketchup “its different”
Even the fish kabiraji was better than the one which is available in south calcutta.

But the ambience was not good .

Reply
Sumit

Great to hear you liked the food 🙂 It is one of my favorite fry joints.
Yes the ambiance is bit shabby. But I have compromised with it because firstly I can at least get the good fries and secondly specially the prawn and fish cutlet doesn’t taste that great if bought home and re heated. Hope they find a better place soon 🙂

Reply
Saptarshi

I was doing a little bit of research on the old eateries in Calcutta and your blog came up. I would like to thank you for the wonderful job you are doing. I am a Calcuttan having to stay in Madras for work. And I badly miss the city. I will be in Calcutta from the beginning of October and have noted some of the places I would like to visit and document. Thanks again.

Reply
Anirban Halder

I must convey my heartfelt thanks to you for this post. Thanks to this post I could spot Allen for the first time in my life, after several failed attempts following newspaper write-ups that never gave the right direction.

The post is elaborate and enriches one with a pretty impressive knowledge about this time-tasted joint.

Am extremely keen to try it out at the first opportunity.

Reply
Rahul

This is truly interesting info, I’m from Calcutta but living in US now so badly miss Calcutta food, but the next time I’m there will surely try it. Thanks again…

Reply
shiv

dear sumit, ur article was really good and informative. i will surely try this time and go by your menu. and i will keep in mind your suggestions. i am from south kolkata and would like to know more about thhe best joints in north kolkata. i still believe that north makes the best misti, sondesh and other varieties tucked in the lanes and bylanes of north. i got the first taste of north when i was doing my mba from iiswbm. came across such good eating joints in colootola street where you get the world best ‘suti kebabs, royal biriyani and other joints around college stree and hedua.mind blowing food but dont anything else like decor, ambience etc.thanks again…

Reply
Sumit

Shiv,

Its good to hear that you liked the write up. The eating joints on Colootola and Zakaria street are really heavenly. Will try and do more write ups like this 🙂

Reply
Avijit Sengupta

Please don’t B4 you taste for what you r here. They r just best in D world.

Reply
ramesh chandran

Great Stuff. Am planning to visit Cal around June this year. Will you be kind enough to suggest some more of these hidden gems in your city.

Regards

Ramesh

Reply
angshuman

enlightening writing
male me more of such nostalgic joints if you plez. though i am not from kol, but visit the city regularly for food, fun & books.
wish to meet you for a food trail.
till then
angshuman

Reply
Michael Huxley

Wow, looks like I great place! Sorry I missed it when I was in Kolkata a while back. I love little long established eateries like this though, in my opinion they are often far better than larger fancier restaurants!

Reply
Dave Cole

I think the average lifespan of a restaurant in NYC is 6 months, so over a century is quite impressive. I would love to dig into that prawn cutlet. That is a new dish to me and I’m sure I could down a couple in one sitting!

Reply
Alli

Interesting post! Thanks for sharing and enlightening me with food options from this region of the world!

Reply
Claudia

I actually trust better restaurants that have a short menu. Too much stuff on it creates confusion and that’s when you know that most of the food is not fresh.

Reply
Lauren

It’s always great to see a restaurant stay in business for so long with a loyal following! Do they offer any vegetarian or vegan dishes?

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Stacey Veikalas @Baskets Life

Great info, I think it is always wonderful to have some inside knowledge on where to eat and what to order when traveling or moving somewhere. I will for sure use your blog as a place to check out for food in India!

Reply
Jessica

Looks delicious! I’m a HUGE fan of prawns, and any seafood for that matter, and will add it to my travel list of places to check out! Thanks!

Reply
Jessica

Looks delicious! I’m a HUGE fan of prawns, and any seafood for that matter, and will add it to my travel list of places to check out! Thanks! 🙂

Reply

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