Must-try Restaurants in Kalimpong: Gompus & Za Khang

When we were planning to visit Kalimpong, I had asked around for food recommendations there. A restaurant named Gompus featured on everyone's list. Be it, Doma Wang, the restaurateur from Kolkata who is originally from Kalimpong, or Indrajit Lahiri (in his blog www.moha-mushkil.com) all were unequivocally recommending this place.


Gompus is one of the oldest restaurants in Kalimpong with a legacy of about a hundred years. Located on the ground floor of Gompus Hotel near the busy Kalimpong taxi stand it is known for not just its momos, but even some items of British legacy such as the Chicken Cutlet. So as soon as we checked in at Morgan House in the late afternoon, we moved out to the city centre to eat there.



I was told that their signature Pork Momos get over pretty early, so we were really rushing. But it was already 3 PM, and the waiter informed us that the last plate of momos was just ordered. Why this happens to me all the time? Anyway, I had a handy list ready and promptly ordered the Pork Ribs and Pork Sausages. The ribs in a localized and very sweet version of BBQ sauce were optimally cooked. The hills of Darjeeling have one of the best quality pork meat in the country, and this notion was reinforced here. The pork sausages gave no reason to complain either except that it was a tad too oily.

Pork Ribs

Pork Sausages

The person serving informed that they have some local wine available and we tried a glass too. My wife is very fond of Thukpa, so we wrapped up after sharing a bowl of Pork Thukpa. Very earthy especially the taste of the broth. The delightful meal cost around 1k.

Pork Thukpa (Day One)

Local Wine

We were happy with the stuff we tasted and did not want to miss out on the pork momos. So this time I was taking no chances, and we landed up the next day at 12 Noon. The momos were thick and fluffy (reminded me of Chinese Baos) with pork and onion mince inside. Another dish we tried here was the Chicken Cutlet (a legacy of the British) with a thick upper crust and ample chicken. The chicken inside was a tad too dry though. Finally, we couldn't resist sharing a thukpa again.


Pork Momo

The Yeasty momo with Pork Fillings

Chicken Cutlet

Pork Thukpa (Day Two)

I will go back here again as and when I visit Kalimpong hopefully next year. This surely is not a place not to be missed by the food lovers, on a visit to this town.



After multiple visits to Gompus we only had time for fitting in one more dinner during our two days in Kalimpong. Art Cafe and Cafe Kalimpong were among the suggestions, but I opted for Za Khang, the only Bhutanese restaurant in the town (and as per them in North Bengal).

Suja

My first brush with Bhutanese food (specifically Ema Datshi, the green chilli cheese dish) was at 9ine, a restaurant in Gangtok which has since closed down. My visit to Bhutan in 2017 exposed me to Ezay, Pa and many other Bhutanese delicacies. I had really liked the cuisine, and that was my major reason for choosing to prioritize on Za Khang at Kalimpong.

Ema Datshi

Ezay

The place located at 9th mile, Kalimpong has nice decor with tables as well as traditional floor-level seating. We had taken a long walk downhill from Durpin Hill (Morgan House) to Za Khang and were visibly a bit tired. A complementary Suja (Bhutanese butter tea) was soon on the table to rejuvenate us. The staff was pretty knowledgeable and advised us to go for a-la-carte dishes based on our requirement, though at around 6 PM they had a buffet ready in one corner. We started with Itshum (Bhutanese red rice which has a special flavour), and Ema Datshi with Ezay the Bhutanese chilli preparation used as a side throughout the meal.

Phaksha Pa

Juma

Next was Phaksha Pa (some good sliced pork cooked with radish slices and chillies). This was fresh pork, they also have a dish made of dried pork and radish. The beef mince filling of Juma (beef sausages cut into pieces and stir-fried) was divine, though the intestine wraps were a bit rubbery (expected). We wanted to try more dishes, but it was too much for two people.


The restaurant was buzzing with people, and I noticed that most of the customers were opting for the buffet. Maybe it is a better option, if you are not familiar with the Bhutanese cuisine, as you get to taste many of the dishes. Even otherwise, it was an economical option too. The food at Za Khang was quite authentic based on my prior experiences, and my only complaint was they were not selling Ezay in bottles which I wanted to carry to Hyderabad.

So, two restaurants, one old and one new, offering two distinct cuisines. Both are must-visits when in Kalimpong.

Also Read: Seeking Kanchenjunga around Kalimpong.  Deolo and Lava. Rishop and Kolakham

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