Peiping on Park Street will be back to serving Chilli Chicken and Chop Suey, most likely ahead of the Puja.
After staying shut for close to two years, the landmark eatery is preparing to reopen its doors. The owners do not have a date yet but say it will "definitely" be before the Puja.
"We have partially opened for boarders but will take a while longer to serve walk-in customers," says Jaspal Singh, a partner of the restaurant which also has five rooms to let out.
The owners promise that it will continue to remain within the reach of its old clientele.
"Peiping is rich with fond memories. So many people have had their first lunch with their girlfriend or their first evening out after marriage in this place. We are known for good food at economical prices," says Singh.
"We will continue to remain 40 per cent cheaper than our neighbouring eateries. A soup, main course and salad, which can be shared by two, will still be available for around Rs 800."
The facade of Peiping restaurant on Park Street, which is set to reopen before the Puja after remaining closed for almost two years. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
The eatery at 1/1 Park Street reportedly opened in the early 1950s and was run by the Lin family. It was then known as Peking. But during the Chinese aggression in 1962, when the community started leaving the city, the owners changed the name to Peiping to guard against anti-China sentiments and handed over the restaurant to Jagat Singh, the father of the current owners, who ran Anarkali, a northwest frontier cuisine restaurant that still operates in the Metro gully.
"But once the Sino-Indian war stopped, the Chinese had an option to stay as well. The Lins stayed back but as managers of the restaurant, instead of owners," says Singh, who has been running the place ever since the Lins left two decades ago.
He owns a third eatery, La Zeez in Chowringhee.
Peiping was closed down largely because of Singh's health issues. "Managing a restaurant can be very stressful. You can't take eyes off the food quality," he says. But he always meant to reopen. "Peiping has become a brand over 40 years."
Some old favourites have had to be sacrificed. "Till the 1980s, Fried Pork Chop was a signature dish. But the quality of spare ribs in the city has taken a dip. You don't get piglets of three to six months age any more."
What will be added to the menu are foreign vegetables.
"Even the middle class has become open to babycorn, mushroom and broccoli."
Park Street may not be the sole claimant to the 'food street of Calcutta' title any more - Singh agrees that the focus has shifted - but he is confident that the restaurant that has received Thank You notes from satisfied patrons like Sunil Gavaskar and Navjot Singh Sidhu will continue to satisfy many more.