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Although locals love to dine out, traditional Bengali cooking was, until recently, restricted to the home; however some excellent restaurants now offer the chance to taste this wonderful fish-based cuisine. The most popular option for dining out is Chinese food, spiced and cooked to local tastes: the city has a rich tradition including its own Chinatown at Tangra (closes early around 10pm) on the road to the airport. You’ll also find several good south Indian restaurants, as well as rich Muslim cooking at places like Shiraz; the kathi roll, invented at Nizam’s, is now part and parcel of Kolkata’s cuisine. The coffee culture is growing with Baristas at Humayun Place and several Café Coffee Day outlets including one in Pantaloons department store on Camac Street; the Cha Bar at Oxford Bookshop and Dolly’s are purveyors of fine tea. Numerous patisseries and confectioneries like Kookie Jar and Kathleen’s work hard to keep abreast of demand. Fresh and Natural, with a branch on Russel Street, has some great ice-cream flavours including the fabulous custard apple.

Restaurants and cafés around Sudder Street cater for Western travellers staying in the local hotels, while roadside chai shops and snack vendors offer a tasty alternative. The busy environs around New Market include a Muslim quarter with several good restaurants, most with an emphasis on meat.

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