The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Evening of Eminence at Yauatcha's first anniversary

As the brightest kid on the oriental cuisine map of the city turned a year old recently, it celebrated the occasion, among other things, by meeting a bunch of foodies from diverse fields in what it calls the ‘Evening of Eminence’. This is the name of all such evenings where Yauatcha, the Michelin-starred restaurant at Quest, hosts accomplished people from various fields over dinner. It was an honour to be invited to this edition of Evening of Eminence as a blogger.
As I turned up, I was welcomed by Rana Basu Thakur of JLT Solutions (a creative hotshop that handles the advertising and promotions of Yauatcha Kolkata). The long table outside the restaurant on the top floor of the mall was getting filled with guests. Food blogger was one chosen category this time, and there were friends Poorna Banerjee of PresentedbyP  and Indrajit Lahiri of A Bong Petuk’s Diary. Anirban Saha of Kolkata Bloggers  (A platform to unite all bloggers who are connected with Kolkata) joined later.  During the course, I met Karo Kumar who is a senior journalist in The Telegraph. It was pleasing to talk about this blog to her over sips of virgin Lalu (The actual cocktail has vodka. I wanted a non-alcoholic drink for health reasons). The lychee juice along with lemongrass set the palate ready for the variety of dim sums/ dumplings (a forte of Yauatcha), that followed.

 My virgin Lalu

There was a special menu for the evening. In the starters (n0n-veg), arrived Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun, Chicken Dumpling with Celery and Carrot, Xo Dumpling and Crispy Lamb with Raw Mango. I also took Fried Turnip Cake from the veg section. The Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun is my favourite in Yauatcha's dim sums- a soft steamed wrap (like in a dim sum/ momo) of chicken encased prawn, shaped like a thin roll and is served drenched in soy sauce. The wrap melts in the mouth bringing forth the crunchy chicken casing, followed by the juicy and soft, steamed prawn at the core. The chicken and the prawn play the perfect contrast to each other. In the last one year, it has become a signature dish of Yauatcha that reflects its stature of one of the best oriental cuisine destinations in town.

Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun (Photo courtesy: Yauatcha)

 Fried Turnip Cake & Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun

I liked the savory turnip cake. The dumplings at this restaurant are fine dishes, thus they call for an acquired taste. I liked the Xo Dumpling more, made with prawn and topped with mashed egg white. It tasted better with the chili oil (with ginger, garlic etc) and the special chili sauce. The purple hue of the chicken dumpling comes from beetroot. The Crispy Lamb with Raw Mango was good too, with a subtle interplay of the tanginess of raw mango and a dash of sweetness.

Xo Dumpling

 Chicken Dumpling with Celery and Carrot (Centre)

Chili Oil and Chili Sauce

 Crispy Lamb with Raw Mango

The guests were striking conversations among each other. I met Ravi Ranjan of NASSCOM who is part of their start-up incubator called Start-up Warehouse and works in its Kolkata chapter. I am always curious about the start-up scene in the city and it was pleasing to note that so many youngsters are starting up with fresh ideas and also generating both white collar and blue collar jobs. There was Priyanka Bajaj, co-founder of Mera Tiffin (I knew about it when I had met another co-founder Vinay Menon in a blogging workshop of a Facebook food group earlier this year). The start-up on one hand delivers food cooked by home cooks/ chefs and on the other hand, runs a food ordering business, through a website and an app. The core customers of the first service are the students who live in PG/ rented accommodations and miss home food. There also was Rukshana Kapadia who is in a senior position in Switz Foods (owner of the Mio Amore cake shop chain, erstwhile known as Monginis) and actively reviews eateries on Zomato and Facebook under the name ‘The Culinary Commentor’. Rahul Arora, retauranteur, with two ventures- Bon Appetit and Café Prana (on health food theme), introduced himself and was fun to talk to. So did Rohit Arora, who is the Business Head- Kolkata of the food ordering start-up Swiggy which came to Kolkata few months ago.

(From left) Rahul, Poorna and Anirban Saha
 (from left) Rahul, Indrajit and Rukshana

Rana Basu Thakur at the centre

The main course arrived. My pick was Braised Chicken with Mushroom in Claypot, Steamed Red Snapper in Asam Sauce, Ho Fan Noodles and Spicy Vegetable Fried Rice with taro and spring onion. Simply loved the Braised Chicken. The succulent chicken pieces teamed with mushroom in the light gravy with a hint of sweetness worked wonders for my palate. It easily became my other favourite in Yauatcha. Being a ‘fishy’ Bengali I liked the spicy snapper fish dish too. The Ho Fan Noodles was a nice vegetable preparation with flat and wide rice noodles (Ho fan) and soya chunks. I took more of the fried rice which had a balanced spiciness and worked fine for me.

 Braised Chicken with Mushroom in Claypot

Steamed Red Snapper in Asam Sauce

Ho Fan Noodles

Dessert, just like dim sums, happens to be a specialty in Yauatcha and the well-designed dessert platter showed why. It proved enough distraction for almost everyone to stop talking and take a glance at it. It had six varieties of macaroons (a chewy cookie which Yauatcha is especially known for), three types of petite gateaux (cakes, including Raspberry Delice) and three ice-creams. I have known the Raspberry Delice for so long, thanks to Rana da’s posts on Facebook, that I had to try it. The mushy chocolate mousse inside the velvety bright red crust was sublime! The vanilla-black currant ice cream was a superior treat too. And the macaroons, not extremely sweet, were fun bites. They came in strawberry, pistachio, and chocolate flavours among others.

To sum up, an evening to remember! Meeting an eclectic mix of folks over great food, interesting discussions peppered with banter in a relaxed setting.  Wish Yauatcha a great year ahead!

#Yauatcha #YauatchaKolkata #Dimsums #Gateaux #Macaroon #OrientalcuisineKolkata #Foodbloggers #StartupKolkata #NASSCOM #Startupincubator

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