Meet the ‘Don of Tangra’ Monica Liu
She has fought with destiny, with poverty, lack of education and even braved the confinement during the Indo-Chinese War of 1962. Yet she is a superwoman and no wonder people call her ‘Don of Tangra!’ And yes, she is a woman, a superwoman of sorts. Monica Liu is not just another Chinese grandmother from Kolkata, but is one of the most respected member of Tangra’s Chinese community. Today, she has gone on to establish five Chinese restaurants in Tangra and South Kolkata just by her grit and courage. And the journey was not easy at all!
Liu is respected as an entrepreneur, she is also a grandmother of nine grandchildren. She even holds a title these days, that can make your heart tremble -- Don of Tangra. Well, she has no underground connections, or has never murdered or even slapped anyone, but people call her so, for her sheer bravery in the face of the real goons, who have tried to intimidate her and get free food from her restaurants on and off.
In 1991, when she opened her family’s first restaurant, Kim Ling in Tangra, local musclemen tried to coerce the family into serving them free meals, but Monica stood up to them. She made it clear that they were here to do business, and would not be serving free meals. So, she decided to return their ruffian behaviour in kind. Liu earned her strength from her past struggles that made her tough as steel. During the 1962 Indo-China War, Liu’s whole family was arrested (along with hundreds of other Chinese living in India), and shifted to Deoli Camp in Rajasthan. Even after the war got over, the government seemed to have forgotten about these arrested Chinese families for almost five years.
Finally, it was Liu and a few others who wrote a petition to the then Home Minister, which led to their release. But by then, the family had lost all their connections in Kolkata, and had to start all over again. Her father had only 24 rupees in his pocket and they were seven members in the family. Young Monica and her sister would help their mother make momos to sell. That’s where Monica Liu’s culinary journey and her dreams to become a food entrepreneur began.
Today, she owns five extremely popular Chinese restaurants in Kolkata--Kim Ling and Beijing in Tangra, Tung Fong on Park Street, Mandarin on Sarat Bose Road, and Mandarin on Lake Avenue.