It’s not often you can say you are one of a kind in London. But Little Kolkata claims they are the only Bengali restaurant in the capital that is influenced by authentic Kolkata food, with a varied range of dishes from the region as well as the neighbouring countries.

The restaurant can be found in Covent Garden, just off a side street, making it slightly tucked away. The canteen-style restaurant has Bengali touches typical of homes of the region like the bare concrete walls, terracotta tableware and vintage flooring. It looks the part, not over styled and feels like an old school working restaurant that’s been around for donkeys.

Founders Prabir Chattopadhyay and Biswajit Deb Das have a long-standing family history of cooking with Prabir’s great grandfather and grandfather being head priests of a Goddess Khali Hindu temple in Kalighat, Kolkata and would cook food for 3-5000 people each day. Biswajit’s family emigrated from Bangladesh to Kolkata and both bring an array of family recipes that have been passed down through the generations and feature on the menu at Little Kolkata.

A sunny and humid Tuesday evening brought us to the restaurant where we plonked ourselves in a booth. The menu, like just about everywhere, is best enjoyed through the art of sharing, with 3 to 5 dishes per person the recommended depending on how hungry you may be. Divided into seven sections there is Mukhorochok (street hawker inspired), Śākasabaji (vegetables), Maach (seafood), Mangsho (meat), Ruti (bread) and Anushongik (sides) which means if there is two of you, two dishes per sections is plenty. You’re likely not to need any side dishes then either, and some dishes are served with bread, so don’t overdo it on the order (like us).

Highlights for us include the Golda Chingri Jumbo Prawn Malai Curry and the Mango Aam Fish and Salad with pan-fried sea bass, green mango and mustard sauce – this is a must order. The Lamb Biryani is pretty essential too; it’s a generous portion and ideal for sharing. Besides these, we were able to try dishes that were new to us, taking us on a journey of flavour and spice.

If you are in the mood for a slightly different take on Indian food you will find plenty of exciting dishes waiting for you at Little Kolkata.

51-53, Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9JU