This was my first Kolkata Food Fanatics meet. This was my first entry to the Vintage Asia, J W Marriott Kolkata and frankly, somehow, I am somewhat scared to enter the big hotels, especially their specialty outlets. Those who know me, you know that I’m quite comfortable with the street food, but in these joints, I get a little baffled – what to do, how to behave, and with so many sophisticated people around, what would be the right thing to do….. But, surprisingly the Vintage Asia gave a slightly different feeling from the moment I entered. It felt less formal and more like friendly ambiance and I actually liked that. And with friends around, who really cared ?
Okay, first things first. Vintage Asia is the specialty oriental restaurant headed by chef Sudip and Chef Tan. The decor is posh, yet sober giving it a warm feeling. But then again every biggie in this genre has that, so what’s the big deal- I asked myself. But as soon as we sat down, the tea ceremony started and I was coming to understand the difference. The difference was the famed Marriott service and it showed throughout the dining experience.
We were offered a specially curated menu at a packaged price for our large group but still the curious me wanted to see the menu card and as I found out, the a la carte dishes also are quite reasonably priced (considering its a prime property and the big portion sizes)- a big relief for me- “I can come otherwise also then and that too without selling one of my kidneys”- I uttered to myself.
I opted for the cocktail (Sinsen- tequila base with jaggery and herbs) but also tasted a sip from the mocktail (Tom YumSiam- lemongrass and galangal flavored) and both were refreshing. The service style of the cocktail was nothing less of a celebration and was worth a “dekho”.
For starters, we were served four types of dimsum (all piping hot). For non-veg, there were prawn and pork Bao and for vegetarians, there were Asparagus and water chestnut crystal dumpling (looked just awesome- I had 2 of them) and Edameme and truffle dumplings. But, out of them, I’d suggest, if you order, go for the pork Bao and only that. All were good, but these pork ones were just heavenly. Pop one in your mouth, feel it explode with the juiciness and feel lost for a few moments- divine.
Soup came next and we were supposed to choose from hot and sour soup and wanton in superior broth. The superior broth consists of a rich clear meat broth with ginger. What I felt, the latter one is far far superior in taste. It’s not that the first one is bad (its good also), but there has to be a winner and there’s no confusion here.
And the next dish was was something which is everybody’s eternal love. I am not qualified enough to comment on the authenticity quotient, but we all love to drop the fork-knife, hold them with out bare fingers, place them in between our teeth and behold, the soosh, wing-bones come out. We all love that. Here, it was properly cooked with the right amount of crunchiness and softness inside…… Personally I am not that much of a prawn lover, but fried prawn is a different story altogether. Loved them, but I liked it as it is- without the wasabi mayo. The Mapo tofu is not my personal favorite, but loved the crispiness of the veg spring roll- definitely recommended for the vegetarians.
Finally, after we are full, the main course started coming in and who are we lesser mortals to deny them ? The fried rice and noodles were okay-ish and nothing special, but I was surprised by the veg main course options. The veg thai red curry was so good that I actually had to order some steamed rice (just to add justice to the dish, don’t take me otherwise…..), but the showstopper was the tofu with sichuan peeper. Even a carnivore like me had to take 2 helpings- impressed. The crispy potato with chilly extract was a revelation.
And finally it was the time, for which we all (at least most of us) were waiting- the non-veg main course. I am coming to the pork belly later, but finally some upmarket oriental specialty restaurant MADE a good spicy fried chicken. It was fiery and brilliant, like seriously good- definitely noted for my next visit. The king prawn was good and is to be tried with steamed rice. It had the right amount of spicy and tangy quotient. And, finally the pork belly. Oh my phucking god- what a dish. Caramelized, tangy exterior and juicy, succulent inside- this dish is just the epitome of what a pork belly should be like. Let me be honest. Once I come back for the next time, I am going to have just the pork bao and the pork belly with pineapple. Seriously impressed.
Dessert was next. We were served creme bruilee and toffee banana with salted caramel ice-cream. Frankly, I don’t remember either of their tastes (except the ice cream). After you meet god, lesser mortals hardly matter and such was my case after having the pork belly. Secretly, I was actually craving for more.
Were we full ? Are you still asking ? Like really ?
Pocket pinch ? For a couple, it should be around 2200/-, but then when did happiness come cheap ?
Bon apetite !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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