Has there ever been a better time than now to be a gourmand in Kolkata? With newer restaurants opening their doors — almost at the drop of a hat — the city’s gastronomic landscape has never been as fertile.
The food-loving denizens here are having it good and there’s yet another reason to rejoice. Situated in Camac Street, The Fatty Bao is novelty personified, being Kolkata’s first izakaya and noodle shop. For the uninitiated, an izakaya is a Japanese after-work watering hole where a variety of small plates are served to go with the drinks. From the owners of Monkey Bar on the floor above, this is the seventh outpost of The Fatty Bao in India after Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai (Bandra, Lower Parel, Powai and Andheri).
The place is a Shangri La for all experimental eaters as the menu takes inspiration from Asia’s diverse culinary treasures while putting a spin on traditional recipes. The Urakami (meaning inside out) Sushi Rolls are first up and among them, the Prawn Tempura Roll is a no less than a delight.
That said, let’s come to the baos as the restaurant is named after them! A bao is a Chinese bread roll (steamed or pan-seared) with a filling of meat and vegetables. Here, the bao is cut through the middle and opened almost like a Mexican taco, albeit with a soft exterior. The Char Siu Bao comprising imported pork belly, barbeque sauce, green apple kimchi and scallion is a must-have. But there are 12 more to choose from!
A plethora of dimsums are offered as well but hardcore foodies cannot look past the one with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. It simply melts in the mouth as does the curried crabmeat and tobiko (flying fish roe) dimsum. The Cold Green Tea Noodle Salad is a wondrous dish as glass noodles are cooked in green tea and served with ginger, scallion, soy sauce, cherry radish, cilantro and lime.
The Fatty’s Bao’s soul lies in its small plates that are meant to be shared and ordered one after another — the larger one’s group, the more they can taste! The Duck Nachos (roast duck, hoisin mayonnaise, cucumber, tofu cheese sauce and crispy duck skin), Wasabi Prawns (tempura fried prawns, wasabi mayo and crispy gari) and the Fatty Bao PB&J (twice cooked imported pork belly; first slow braised and then crisped to order with miso mustard sauce) come in the “not-to-be-missed”category.
Next up is the Robatayaki (items slow grilled in skewers) of which the Thai Green Curry-marinated Grilled Chicken and the Gochujang-marinated Lamb Chops stand out proudly.
Coming to the noodle shop side of things, The Fatty Bao has a range of warm soupy noodles and ramen options. The Chasu Ramen (slow cooked pork stock, bacon, soy tare and fresh garlic) is soul-stirring stuff especially in winter! A few curries, rice dishes and noodles are also on the menu. Co-owner, chef and raconteur extraordinaire Manu Chandra says, “Kolkata has some of the best produce in the country, especially at this time of the year, and we have used Chinese sausages from Chinatown in a few of our dishes.”
One cannot possibly miss the loving made and intricately presented desserts like Coco Caramel, Zen Forest and the Japanese Cheesecake — nothing less than artworks on a plate! They also have a great selection of teas and tipplers will be spoilt silly with the varied cocktails on offer.
Done up in a burst of colours with an abundance of natural light and unparalleled views of the Victoria Memorial, The Fatty Bao is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to having a swell time.