Popular Bengaluru gastro-bar to open in Mumbai
Walking into Fatty Bao is like walking into a fairy tale with a whimsical and quirky setting where the lighting takes the shape of ramen bowls with chopsticks, sieves and wire butterflies, preying mantis and dragon flies. Even Channapatna dolls. The roof of the rectangular bar lighting unit serves as a stand to display alcohol bottles.
Mikrop Chicken Salad has crispy noodles, lotus root, chicken chunks and cashew
Conceptualised by fashion-designer-turned-interior-decorator Anshu Arora, Delhi-based artists Ayeshe Sadr and Ishaan Dasgupta are responsible for the bright wall paintings. Don’t miss the peaceful samurai panda at the bar. We almost get a Murakami-esque feeling in one of the sections where pictures of cats are abound.
With the launch of Monkey Bar last month, Chef Manu Chandra and restaurateur Chetan Rampal gear up to launch Fatty Bao tomorrow. The duo is known for their creative streak which makes their food, cocktails and overall experience stand out — be it the Don Drapper drink or pani puri shots at Monkey Bar. So, our expectations are high. We have nursed a ravenous appetite and even agreed to brace the city rains.
Hibiscus is a granita served on a parfait with peaches and tapioca balls
As we settle into our chairs, our eyes fall on the salt and pepper shakers — Channapatna dolls with Chinese conical hats. As we play with the chopsticks, held together by a panda, the server places our first salad, the Mikrop Chicken with Chicken Floss (Rs 220), before us. Chopsticks down, our forks pick up crispy noodles, crunchy lotus root and spicy roast chicken and crushed cashew in its prongs. The sambal mayonnaise releases such a burst of flavours that the dish is quite unforgettable even in its simplicity.
In vegetarian, we try the Green Mango Papaya Salad (Rs 195), a typical som tam Thai salad. The tartness of the mango mingles with the sweet papaya and the freshness of the lemon grass is uplifting against the gloomy weather outside.
We next order the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Oil Dumpling (Rs 300), garnished with edamame beans. The maroon-coloured dimsums need no dips. Chef Chandra points out that dumplings are usually eaten by hand worldwide. We leave the fuss of fork and chopsticks and pop one into our mouths. The filling of wild mushrooms and ruffles of snow mushrooms is succulent.
Asparagus Tempura and Cream Cheese Roll (Rs 260), is a contemporary take on the sushi with crunchy batter-fried asparagus and soft cream cheese wrapped in sticky rice sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds. However, the Prawn and Chive Hargow (Rs 340) is too subtle for our liking, and this time, we turn to the dips and a dash of wasabi for taste.
The Fatty Bao at Bandra
Next, we try the steamed baos. The buns are sliced open and the stuffing is served in the fold. The Teriyaki Chicken Bao (Rs 280) is not for the weak-hearted. Served with pickled cucumber, the dish has Shichimi, a Japanese spice mixture. The Miso Eggplant Bao (Rs 250) is the baigan bhaja, only told apart by the tangy kimchi cabbage and fiery Sriracha sauce.
Our favourite is the The Patty Bao (Rs 300), which has a lamb cutlet topped with pickled gherkins, QP mayonnaise (a Japanese version of the mayo) and lettuce. Think burger meets taco for this delicious open bao, an innovation Chef Chandra brings from his time in New York. Another gem is the Brie tempura (Rs 325), which is triangular chunks of the brie, batter-fried and topped with chilli and honey. For those who are tired of cheese pakoras in the monsoon, you can’t get enough of this one.
For main course, we order Pineapple Eggplant Curry (R345), which floats in a green Thai curry. We cringe our nose at the pineapple, but unlike in a sizzler, it goes beautifully with this coconut-minty curry. The curry is light, the overpowering flavour of kadi patta welcome.
For dessert, we say no to chocolate and take the road lesser travelled and try a Japanese Cheesecake (Rs 265) and Hibiscus (Rs 265), a vanilla Parfait served with hibiscus granita, coconut and tapioca. While the yoghurt-based baked cake melts in the mouth and gives us enough room to finish the whole dish, unlike the New York Cheesecakes, the blueberry, oatmeal and sour cream ice-creams prove to be decent accompaniments.
While the blueberry compote is done and over, we expected a quirkier combination with this Asian cheesecake. The Hibiscus, on the other hand, was a surprise package. As our spoon crushes the icicles of the pink granita, it hits a soft bed of parfait. The garnish of peaches and tapioca balls gives us a fruitful ending.
Fatty Bao gets our thumbs up for the quirky play with space and the food coma we slipped into after the meal. For a city, which has been drooling at Asian food for the past year, Fatty Bao is Bengaluru’s gift of an Asian pop restaurant that stands out for its modern plating of an authentic taste.
We cannot rate the experience as it was a preview
At: Summerville, Junction of 14th & 33rd, Linking Road, Bandra West
Open for dinner from June 29; for lunch and dinner July 6
The bao is a type of steamed, filled, bun in Chinese cuisine