Let me begin by saying that I am not particularly a fan of smartphones. They are neither a phone, nor a computer. Much like a motorbike, which is neither a cycle nor a car, and worse still, can’t even stand on its own feet (wheels rather). TV commercials about smartphones are all the more irritating because the highlight is always on playing videos and games. Somewhere down the years, the key purpose of owning a mobile phone, to make calls, especially in emergencies, was lost. And that probably, is also a reason why the humble cyber café in your bylane, shut shop a few years back. Internet is now our second skin, albeit one that we can’t see.
But I didn’t like to be the butt of jokes among my friends and got myself a smartphone much to the chagrin of my mother, who still struggles to operate the TV remote. She even found my Nokia 3310 ridiculously difficult to operate, and despite unfailing service, it had to go. I was determined this time to get me a smarter phone, in an era where even vegetable vendors were using android.
Being a foodie, the first thing I did with my smartphone, was to lookup for unexplored food joints in Kolkata. Logging onto Facebook, I found one of my friend’s status updates: ‘Finally at Santa’s Fantasea’. The name of the joint caught my attention as I had never heard of it before. Searching Google, I found the restaurant tucked away in one of the bylanes of Golpark (Ballygunge Terrace to be precise), and frequented by several Bengali celebrities.
So one Monday afternoon, the ignoble gastronomer got the better off me and I drove straight to the joint, only to find a very disappointing ‘closed for renovation’ board hanging there. I loitered for some time to get hold of someone who could tell me when the place would reopen. None could be found. I revisited the place some days later, this time after calling them over phone, and got a nice table that offered an entire view of the restaurant. I spotted a leading actress dining at a distance and realised that the page 3 snaps are not always publicity stunts. I asked the manager about the renovation and he said that the place is closed on the first Monday of each month for cleaning and pest control. He can’t write that on the board because people will then think the place is pest infested. Hence ‘renovation’. I praised him silently. Here’s a person who was ready to sacrifice a day’s business for hygiene and cleanliness.
The menu of Santa’s Fantasea is something Kolkata has not tasted thus far. It’s an exclusive seafood restaurant, perhaps the only one of its kind in the City of Joy, which is why it’s named Fanta’sea’ and not Fantasy. Right from crabs to octopus, everything available underwater was there on the platter. Well, almost. The price too is reasonable with a bowl of mixed seafood fried rice costing ₹130. The jumbo lobster was the only expensive cuisine and rightfully so. My favourite was the smoked fish, but you can of course try out the exhaustive seafood range here.
Santa’s Fantasea is also perhaps the only restaurant in the city which serves tribal cuisine. You can have Bansa Pora Mutton (marinated mutton stuffed in bamboo and cooked in tandoor) from Odisha, Lal Gosht (boneless mutton balls served with green sauce) from Andhra Pradesh, Kukhura Ko Masu (chicken flavoured with tamarind, coconut, spices and herbs) from Sikkim, Ngatok (fish cooked without oil, marinated with aromatic herbs inside banana leaf) from Nagaland, and several other cuisines. The menu covers ethnic tribal food from almost all over the country.
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