Fusion’s the fashion at Fatt Pundit
19 September, 2019 — By Tom Moggach
Fatt Pundit in Berwick Street, a fine example of Indo-Chinese cuisine
THE first Chinatown in London sprung up by the docks in Tower Hamlets around the 1900s. At around the same time in India, a Chinese “Hakka” community settled in the city of Kolkata. The fusion cooking they made famous is the star of this week’s review.
Indo-Chinese food is a rarity in our capital. It evolved when these migrant Chinese families cooked food from their homeland using ingredients found in the Indian bazaars.
Momos are a typical dish – those steamed dumplings that also spread to Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. At Fatt Pundit, a new restaurant in Berwick Street in Soho, these dumplings are filled with goat meat spiced with garam masala, cardamom, ginger and garlic; or beef mixed with leeks, red chilli and coriander.
In other dishes, the chefs wok fry noodles or prawns with Szechuan chilli; chicken is cooked Manchurian-style, with shallots, coriander and a shiny soy glaze.
The name Fatt Pundit is an amalgam of “Fatt”, a common Chinese surname, and “Pundit”, a Hindi word for a scholar.
From the street, the restaurant looks stylish but somewhat generic for Soho – giving no hint of what you’ll find within.
It’s a slim, deep room with a bar down the left shaking fruit-forward cocktails such as a Guava Chilli Sour or Kala Khatta Mojito.
At one end, there’s a chef and a vast metal pot for steaming those momo dumplings.
The workbench is slightly hidden from sight, so you can’t easily observe the action – a missed opportunity for adding a sense of theatre to proceedings.
It’s the food that shines brightly at Fatt Pundit. The menu, in fact, is a fine example of this underrated craft. Lamb chops have a “black bean dust”; sweet corn is “wok blistered”.
The knock-out dish is called Crackling Spinach. Spinach leaves are fried in advance in a light batter, then piled high on the plate and scattered with a pomegranate seeds, with a swirl of sweetened yoghurt and a date and plum sauce. The sweet notes and contrast of textures make it extremely addictive.
The momos are terrific and served with two dipping sauces. The veggie version is shaped from a green dough and stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, courgette and tofu.
I loved their juicy lamb chops, blackened with a masala spice rub, and a fillet of bream swimming in a turmeric-yellow sauce heavy on the coconut.
Fellow diners had their phones at the ready to film the signature dessert – a chunk of brownie and scoop of ice cream in a heated metal dish.
The waiter pours over a chocolate sauce, creating wafts of steam and bubbling liquors that hit the spot on Instagram.
If you’re hungry in Soho, then Fatt Pundit offers something different – a style of cooking both exotic and subtly familiar. A few embellishments to the décor may help to draw in curious passers-by. Expect to pay £30-£40 per head, before drinks and service.
77 Berwick St, W1F
020 7287 7900