I am relatively new as a food blogger and was thus really excited about my first blogger’s meet at Monkey Bar Kolkata. It had opened its doors in September and I could not make it before, so this time I was not going to miss out.
Located on the 9th floor of a building at Camac Street, the place is spacious and offers views of some of Kolkata’s most iconic landmarks – the Victoria Memorial, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Second Hoogly Bridge.
This certainly gives you the Kolkata feel and the tables near the outside wall would always be the ones booked first.
Technically, being a teetotaller, I am not quite the right person to review a bar, but I have decided to be honest with myself and my readers. I will review the food. The menu on offer looked quite interesting. A lot of planning and imagination seemed to have gone into it. Here I will pick my top 5 out of the dishes served, leaving out the desserts. I have not been to a Monkey Bar before so many of these dishes, which have attained a cult status already, were not familiar to me.
- Tiger Beef: This was one dish that hit it straight out of the park. The Thai name for a similar dish is ‘seua rong hai’ which literally translates into ‘crying tiger’, because the dish is so hot and spicy that it is supposed to bring tears to the eyes. And boy it did and how! Here is what it is made of – slices of beef steak cooked in fiery red sauce topped with chilies, peppers, ginger, sprouts and lemon. The beef is succulent and if you scoop out some sauce with it, it will hit you right at the back of your throat and make you reach for your glass. Not one for the faint-hearted, but once you get used to it, you would not want to stop.
- The Lal Maas Phulka Tacos has a name which is self-explanatory and combines the best of both worlds. The tacos are of the soft, whole-wheat Indian phulka variety, filled with lal maas of Rajasthani fame. The meat was marinated in a yoghurt –based masala mix, and as I learnt later, topped with ker sangri( traditional spicy Rajasthani subji), shredded radish and onions and garlic and coriander chutney. The outcome- a melange of myriad flavours and once you bite into the juicy meat, you cannot help but drool over it.
- The Butterfly Chicken is easy on the palate and is a must-have starter if you are a chicken person. The name leaves nothing to imagination, small pieces of chicken are fried in red sauce and cooked with sesame, chilies, honey and bell-peppers and served in neat butterfly shells which Monkey Bar has made its own. It is crispy, sweet, hot and spicy all at the same time, and vanished from the plates in a jiffy. This one’s gonna be a big hit with everyone!
- The Tikki of Joy,or Bhetki Fish tikka is a dish with a regional twist, Monkey Bar’s association with Bengal much before it set up shop here. The fish is coated with breadcrumbs and fried just right, served with kasundi ( pungent Bengali mustard sauce ) mint chutney, onions and a dash of lime. A fish lover, this was one dish that I took to, to use a cliché, as fish takes to water.
- Kerala Red Rice (salad) is a vegetarian dish which can be a healthy start to your meal. Compared to the more polished white rice, red rice has a nutty flavour. The salad made of rice, peanuts, chillies and raw mango slices is filling and tastes fresh with a light spicy undertone. It was novelty to me because we in Kolkata are more used to rice in the main dish.
To sum up, Monkey Bar is a welcome addition to happening hang out joints in Kolkata. And with the city’s appreciation of good food and drinks, this is one place where booking a table would be recommended, especially on weekends!
( Pictures shot by author and sourced from Monkey Bar).