New Delhi’s famous Monkey Bar has curated a limited-edition pop-up menu in collaboration with The Fatty Bao; we visit to sample its South-Asian delights. Text and photographs by Bayar Jain
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New Delhi’s Monkey Bar needs no introduction. Its pyramid glass exterior—similar to Paris’ Louvre—has been a hangout hotspot for students, couples, and families since its inception. I, too, had visited the gastropub a few years ago, swearing to revisit every time I crossed Vasant Kunj’s streets (where the bar is located). Finding out that they’ve got a special pop-up menu in collaboration with The Fatty Bao going on right now is my cue to finally ferry back.
I sit on the second floor of the restaurant, peering down at the large table below where a group of women are guffawing over colourful cocktails. Across me, a couple toasts to their love, while beyond them a family digs into a plate of dim sums and sushi. This cheery vibe compels me to order my cocktails right away—A Fatty Sour (raspberry and oranges in whiskey) for me, and A Splendour On The Grass (homemade lemongrass shrub in gin and tonic) for my sister seeking respite from her two toddlers. Pink and purple-hued drinks, respectively, take up spots on our table, both fresh in their own rights. While my drink’s tartness balances well with the fresh orange wedge swimming in the glass, my sister enjoys the sweet notes of her concoction. I find myself reaching out for her drink—apart from just mine—throughout the night; that’s how much I loved both!
With drinks decided, we glance through the two-sided menu for some grub. The server explains that the pop-up with The Fatty Bao, another gastropub of the city, features Asian delicacies signature to the brand. Think baos, sushis, curries, dim sums, ramen and more. We begin with wok-tossed Crispy Vegetables. The bowl of julienned carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and diced chillies sing with peppery undertones, while its crispy deep-fried exteriors pair well with the cocktails. A few conversations later, we’ve polished the plate clean.
For the main course, the Chef’s Choice Bao Wow Platter eyes for attention. Out come six baos cosying on a wooden platter, each evidently sauced differently. The server takes us through each: A Teriyaki Vegetable Bao—cucumber topped with togarashi spices and sesame; Eggplant Bao—fried eggplant, kimchi cabbage doused in sriracha sauce; Crispy Potato Bao—sambal sauce-tossed potatoes, kimchi cabbage and scallions in seven spice; Mushroom and Bell Pepper—paired with lettuce and fried garlic in black pepper sauce; Wild Mushrooms and Chickpea—accompanied by lettuce, togarashi, pickled cucumber and crispy garlic; and Spicy Beetroot and Tofu—coupled with chilli and garlic sauce, pickled cucumbers and sesame. The pillowy-soft casing of the baos marries well with the flavoursome fillings, while the sauces sing on my palate. For me, the mushroom and bell pepper bao emerges victorious, while my sister picks the potato variation.
Chocoholics at heart, we pick Coco Caramel for dessert, and we couldn’t have asked for a happier ending! A dollop of sweet milk chocolate crémeux sits daintily on soft flourless chocolate cake. Atop the cream, shards of bitter hazelnut pralines protrude while small toasted meringues border the dish. When scooped with the salted caramel ice cream and caramel gel, the taste is sublime. Sweet, salty, bitter, and fresh take turns to shine on my taste buds, leaving me happily satiated. We leave with big smiles on our faces, making a mental note to return for the curries before March 25 when the pop-up ends.
Price for two: approximately INR 2,200 for two people (with alcohol)
Address: Plot 11, Upper Ground Floor, LSC, Pocket C 6 &7, Vasant Kunj
Reservations: +91 11 41095155 / +91 7982452525/ +91 9810970220