A Trip to the Panda Crib

The Fatty Bao – Asian Gastro Bar
610, 3rd Floor,
12th Main, Off 80 Feet Road,
Indiranagar, Bangalore,

10th March, 2017

‘Tis is a lesson you should heed,
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.
” – William E. Hickson

Ah! Good ol’ Billy Hicks! Ever the optimist!

At a young and, frankly, gullible age (when we believed everything everyone ever told us), we were taught, nay, urged to GRAB every opportunity, SEIZE every moment that came our way for these opportunities would, supposedly, never come around twice. As we grew older and our naivety diminished, we realized that these so-called opportunities were relatively more similar in nature to a somewhat corpulent person at an all-day buffet than a bolt of lightning striking at the same spot – in that they would come around twice.

So, what does (taking cue from a certain “orange” someone) grabbing opportunities and seizing moments have to do with having dinner at a highly-rated Asian Gastro Bar in Bangalore? Well, the answer to that question lies in a story that begins nearly a month prior to my dinner.

It was the day we celebrated my sister’s eighteenth birthday (see A Bombay Birthday). As we stepped out of the restaurant, on a bright spring afternoon, we said our goodbyes, hugged our farewells, and parted ways – each of us off to our next destination. A few of us, me including, hopped across the street to a nearby pub for a quick mid-day drink. It was on those bar sofas where I first learnt about the restaurant that I would eventually have dinner three weeks later. The topic of discussion, as is with many conversations, altered over time and it was during our discussion on restaurants in the locality when I first heard about The Fatty Bao. Naturally, I was intrigued and my hand, without a second thought, reached out to my phone. Coincidentally, I found the restaurant to be located merely a hundred feet above my head. As I sat in the passenger seat of the cab that was to take me home, I could not help but wonder when I would be back, albeit to the third floor.

Fast forward a week later. After four days of dining on home-cooked meals, my sister and I were in the mood for a meal outside. Usually, this would entail an hour of scouring through restaurants on Zomato, deciding locations, and choosing cuisines. This time, however, we knew exactly where we wanted to dine at. Dressed in our best evening attire, we were moments away from heading downstairs to await our cab. There was only one problem. There was no cab! Yes, you read that right! In a city of eight million people, where roads narrow and driving is tedious as filing taxes, there wasn’t a taxi in sight. I hurried through each of my cab-booking applications on my phone only to confirm that this was indeed true. Turns out that there was a strike amongst cabbies across the city of Bangalore (which wouldn’t make even Page 11 in the newspapers). So there were two options on our plate – we wait for an auto willing enough to take us to the restaurant (which would be as tedious as driving) or we kick back our legs, relax, pick up the phone, and order in. Looking across the room at my sister, we both had the same thought running through our heads. Bob, I’m going to go with Option No. 2 – kick back and relax!

Remember what I said about opportunities knocking on your door twice. Well, after the incidents of the week past, I was of the opinion that our only window of opportunity to dine at the Fatty Bao had passed and changing food cravings would mean that I would not have the pleasure of dining at the Asian restaurant. However, as you would have it, on the 10th of March 2017, our yearning for Asian food was too powerful to overcome, and we decided to make full use of our second opportunity. First things first (I’m a say all the words inside my head), it was time to check the news for any sudden strike that might have occurred during the day. Fortunately for us, the city of Bangalore was kind enough to spare us the inconvenience of waiting for an auto rickshaw, and we were soon on our way to the restaurant.

As I had mentioned earlier, the Fatty Bao is located on the third floor of a three storeyed building on one of the most restaurant-crowded streets of Bangalore. Despite the competition from neighbouring restaurants, the Fatty Bao is at an advantage due to its unique position as an Asian Gastro Bar, and its ability to provide diners with a brilliant rooftop view. We arrived at the restaurant at a quarter to eight, and made our way up the stairs to the restaurant. It was only when we reached the top of the stairs, and pulled open the door that I realized that it would have been best to take the elevator. It was not that the journey up top was too long, rather it was that the entrance to the restaurant via the stairs was significantly less attractive than the entrance via the elevator. 

We made our way into the restaurant and found the interior decor to be quite charming and appropriately befitting an Asian restaurant. The wooden tables and chairs, lit merely by the flames of a candle, created an aura of home and comfort, while the walls, painted to depict Asian culture – from Pandas (wearing kimonos because, why not!) in bamboo fields to oversized maps of Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and the Philippines – provided a source of humour for us. The only drawback, in terms of decor, was the lack of a Gastro Bar feel – not that I was complaining given that neither my sister nor I were going to drink anything alcoholic.

As I admired the restaurant’s decor, my stomach began to rumble, signalling that it was probably the best time to place our order. Scrolling through the menu, my stomach rumbled in the excitement and anticipation of trying out all of the dishes on offer. The choices were aplenty, especially for us carnivores. It was only fitting, given the name of the restaurant, that the first page of the menu was dedicated to showing off the restaurant’s wide array of baos. However, before we could get to our main course, as is with any meal, we began with selecting our drinks and ordering an appetizer (or in this case a small plate!).

 ( From left to right ): Three Cup Chicken; Teriyaki Chicken Glazed Bao; Via Malaysia; Japanese Cheesecake
(From left to right): Three Cup Chicken; Teriyaki Chicken Glazed Bao; Via Malaysia; Japanese Cheesecake

The drinks were the first to arrive at our table – the Sakura Sakura and the Cran Cooler. To anime fans reading this blog, I just want to clarify that while the former does have an Asian ring to its name, it has nothing to do with a certain pink-haired character of the Naruto franchise. Rather, the drink is a combination of grape, passion fruit, and a blend of other fresh fruit. Certainly refreshing in words, even more so in reality. The Cran Cooler may have been relatively less Asian in name but it was equally refreshing and there was an added element of ‘kick-in-the-mouth’ from the addition of ginger shreds and lime wedges to an already tangy cranberry juice (certainly a brain awakener and an eye opener). It wasn’t too long before our appetizer arrived – the Three Cup Chicken. A traditional Taiwanese dish, the wok-fried chicken doused in one cup of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine (hence the three cups) each was the perfect accompaniment. As we munched through the appetizer, I could feel a hint of each of the sauces in every bite. The dish possessed the perfect balance of spice, and the crunchy texture was an absolute delight.

As we came close to finishing our appetizer, we decided to order our mains. We had missed one opportunity before, but there was no way I was missing another one. I was not about to leave the Fatty Bao without having tried their baos. Opportunities aside, my appetite had significantly subsided and so I was ready for a lighter dinner meal – the Chicken Teriyaki Glazed Bao. My sister, on the other hand, was hungry enough to order the biggest item on their menu – the Via Malaysia Ramen Noodles.

The baos were the first to arrive. Presented on what looked like an overturned Chinese slipper, the baos were reminiscent of modern-day Mexican soft shell flour tortilla tacos. In terms of size (and yes size does matter!), the baos would be perfect as an appetizer or as it was in my case a very light main course. The bao buns, perfectly folded in half, looked deliciously soft and fluffy. The filling – chicken with pickled cucumber and shichimi (a Japanese spice mixture comprising of red chilli pepper, sesame and hemp seed, ginger, seaweed, and Japanese pepper) – looked tantalizing enough for my sister to pluck a bao out of its resting place and take a big bite out of it. After recovering from my shock, I decided to munch down on my dinner before it became even smaller. As I had expected, the outer layer of bao bun was extremely soft and fluffy. However, it was probably a little too fat for my liking as I was unable to get a full feel of the filling inside, which is the most important part – the part I am paying for. The filling in itself, was quite nice. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the pickled cucumber and the shichimi, but as I bit through the baos, the flavour grew on me, and I was slightly dejected when I found myself facing an empty board ten minutes later.

It was as I helped myself to the second bao when the bowl of Ramen arrived at our table. As the waiter brought it towards us, I could see my sister’s eyes widen and I was certain of the thoughts running through her head. It was on the lines of “Holy (insert foul language here)! That is MASSIVE! How on Earth am I going to finish that?”. The bowl arrived at our table, filled to the brim with a broth, dark red in colour, the perfect representation of the spiciness of that dish. Now, my sister can stand her own against high levels of spice, a feat I was capable of until recent events. So to see her, in her element, sweating from her head, eyes, and nose was a testament to how spicy the dish really was. With every sip of the broth, the table was covered with yet another sweat blotch. It was a wonder how she managed to (almost!) complete that big bowl of ramen. In her words, the ramen would be the perfect dish to order for someone who loves spicy food (and who would love to get rid of a cold!), and has fasted the whole day.

The waiter, appreciating my sister’s level of effort in almost completing her dish, enquired as to whether we would like to order desserts. Having had only the baos for dinner, I was interested to see what was on offer. My sister, to my amazement, agreed with me and we asked for the menu cards. Similar to the rest of the menu, the desserts were in abundance. Selecting one wasn’t an easy task. Should we go with something chocolate? Or should we go with something more traditionally Asian? In the end we decided to do neither and went for a Japanese Cheesecake. (That sounds original, am I right?) I guess it was the icon for the ‘Fatty Bao Special’ that really sold it for us. By the time our dessert arrived, our stomachs had digested the mains and we were ready to tackle what was to come next. I expected the cheesecake to be similar to what I have had before at other restaurants – a slice of cake topped with a layer of strawberry syrup. What we got, however, was a long brick-like piece of cheesecake topped with a berry compote and served with a side of vanilla gelato. The cake was presented on a gorgeous black plate, either side of which were palm-like structures made with cream. In terms of flavour, the cheesecake was extremely light, soft, and fluffy and not overly sweet. The berry compote dripping from the side of the cake added the richness to the dish. The vanilla gelato, which remained intact until our spoons interfered, was the sweet component that the dish deserved and made it a thoroughly enjoyable dessert.

We polished off our dessert and waited a while before we could ask for the cheque. We paid the bill, struggled to get up from our seat, and were slightly appreciative of the fact that we took the stairs downstairs to await our cab (which did not go on strike during our dinner!). The city of Bangalore is certainly no stranger to Asian restaurants, with a plethora of them existent across the city. However, when you come across a special one – like the Fatty Bao – the memory of a meal remains with you forever and for that I, and the rest of the Bangaloreans, are grateful. As I write this, I cannot help but hope to dine at the restaurant once again. Hopefully, a cab strike will not prevent me from doing so!

The Fatty Bao - Asian Gastro Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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