When seventeen very hungry Kolkata Food Fanatics descend upon the newest Asian specialty restaurant in Kolkata, what follows? Madness, mayhem, lots of pictures, lots of social media updates and of course, very good food! What is this restaurant that we all went to? Vintage Asia at J W Marriott Kolkata that is just a month old. Opened last December, Vintage Asia showcases Asian, Chinese and Thai cuisine amalgamating traditional spices and flavors. It was my first time at the restaurant and I was simply blown away by the food. To know what I ate and what I loved, read on.
Vintage Asia is located on the first floor of the hotel and my reaction on entering the place was “The decor is so beautiful and elegant”. Mixing the art deco style with a modern Oriental touch, the ambience is luxurious yet cozy. Just like JW Kitchen, there is an abundance of natural light here and that is something I always like in a restaurant. It just livens up the entire atmosphere and of course makes clicking pictures easier :D. The restaurant features a beverage lounge right in front of an open bar which is separate from the main dining area. That makes it ideal for people who just want to unwind over a few drinks and don’t want to go in for a full meal.
Coming to the main point right now which is the food. Vintage Asia curated a special menu for us which included beverages, dimsums, appetizers, main course and dessert. We started off our meal with a serving of jasmine tea, which acts as a palate cleanser and therefore part of the traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Beverages were next and I had an interesting cocktail called ‘Sinsen’ which consists of two parts – a base which includes mint, celery, lemon grass and dry ice. Hot water is poured on top of the ice which leads to smoke billowing out of the glass with the smell of these ingredients. The smoke adds to the flavor of the actual drink which is made of lemongrass, celery, palm sugar or ‘gur’ and tequila. This is a cocktail inspired from Thai cuisine and I found it quite refreshing.
I can pretty much survive on just dumplings so I was really looking forward to the next part of the meal. We were served four varieties of dumplings – with shrimp (Har Gow) , Pork Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), Edamame and truffle and Asparagus, Water Chestnut Crystal Dumpling. The Pork Bao was the star of the lot for sure. Light and packed with flavors, the soup-filled pork in the steamed bun was absolutely brilliant. I did not think I would but I also enjoyed the vegetarian ones specially the Asparagus and Water Chestnut variant. Because of the thin, translucent dough, they not only look bright and beautiful but the asparagus and water chestnut add a nice flavor and delicate crunch. If you are vegetarian, surely try this variety.
Before moving on to the appetizers, I had a hot and comforting bowl of chicken broth with Chicken Wontons, Enoki Mushrooms and Pak Choi. I had a choice between this and Sichuan Hot & Sour Soup and I went for the former because I wanted something light. If you are fond of spicy soups, you might find it to be bland on its own but mix a bit of green chilly sauce into the broth and that just intensifies the flavors still keeping everything light(thanks Rukshana for the tip).
From the light broth, I immediately moved to Chicken Wings with Chilly and Golden garlic paste. This is perfect for the Indian palate. The wings are hot, spicy and of course, delicious. I also loved the Crispy Fried Prawn with Wasabi Mayo and Sichuan Pepper. I’ve never really been a fan of anything Wasabi so I paired the prawns with a sweet chilly sauce and loved it. For vegetarians, there was a Steamed Tofu and Thai Glass Noodles & Bean Sprouts Spring Roll. I stuck to my chicken wings and fried prawns 😀
And then came the multiple foodgasm inducing dish – Spiced Caramelized Pork Belly with Pineapple Crispy Garlic. Before that, we were served Burnt Garlic Spring Onion Fried Rice and Hakka Style Chicken and Egg Noodles but all was forgotten after the Pork Belly arrived on the table. The crispy skin, the melt in the mouth meat, the burst of sweet, hot and spicy flavors. This dish was love at first bite. If you are reading this and you stay in Kolkata and you love pork, please please go to Vintage Asia and order the Pork Belly. You can thank me later!
The other dishes that I also loved were Sichuan Fried Chicken with Peppercorn and Mountain sun-dried chilly, Wok Tossed King Prawn in Xo Sauce and surprisingly, the Crispy Potato with Spring Onions and Fermented Chilly Paste. We however made the mistake of having these after the Pork Belly so all of them kinda got overpowered. Next time, it will be either the pork or anything else!
In an Oriental restaurant, desserts never really excite me much because 80% of the time, it is usually Darsaan, brownie or fruits with ice cream. At Vintage Asia, I tried something unique – Mango Coconut Creme Brulee with Palm Sugar Caramel & Sesame Tuile. I won’t really call it a true creme brulee because it wasn’t that crunchy and custardy but nonetheless, the mango and coconut flavors were delicious.
Overall, Vintage Asia is a worthy addition to the city’s long list of Asian specialty restaurants. Not only is the food wonderful, they have kept the price very reasonable. There is no buffet option here and you have to choose from an à la carte menu. The soups, dumplings and appetizers are priced within Rs 400++ and the main course within Rs 700-800++ which is pretty good for a 5 star hotel. Oh and they make that incredible Pork Bao and Caramelized Pork Belly. Do you really need any other reason to visit the place??
JW Marriott, 4A, J.B.S Haldane Avenue, Science City Area, Kolkata
Ph – 033 66330000