Securing a reservation at Fatt Pundit seems to be a close to impossible task. The original Soho location of this Indo-Chinese restaurant has an almost cult-like following. Serving a distinct cuisine that can only be found in a clutch of London restaurants, the restaurant champions “Indo-Chinese” cuisines that celebrate the melting pot of cultures within India’s Chinese immigrant community. Hailing from the Tangra area of Kolkata, Fatt Pundit’s food sits at the meeting point between Canton, Guangdong and Kolkattan cuisines – an exploration of the food created by Chinese immigrants as they moved to the city in the 19th century.
Its name – Fatt Pundit – is a combination of the common Chinese surname “Fatt” with the Indian word “Pundit” (a scholar). The terminology itself epitomises their core philosophy: playfully combining Chinese inspired dishes with Indian flavours, creating something both new yet familiar and starting conversations. Uniting traditional Chinese cooking techniques with Indian spices, Fatt Pundit is on a mission to introduce it to London’s dining scene. Although culinary fusions can often be a meek modern interpretation, Fatt Pundit’s take seems authentic.
Like its culinary roots in the streets of Kolkata, the interiors have been created to reflect the original Chinatown of India where diaspora cuisine began. Walls are lined with shelves of Chinese ceramics, the music (a touch too loud) is fusion and understated lighting create a den-like atmosphere – the space has a lot of personality. Restaurant seating is split into comfortable-looking four-people booths downstairs, tables for two, and a downstairs room that could easily accommodate a large group.
Onto food, the menu is split into vegetarian, seafood, and meat dishes and packed with unusual-sounding dishes that live up to their descriptors. Think punchy flavours and bold dishes. We started with Vegetable Momos (£5.50), probably the weakest dish of the evening. Pillowing steamed dumplings common across South Asia, these ones are filled with tofu, mushrooms, spinach and courgette. Influenced by Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and other parts of the Indian subcontinent – these Indo-Chinese dumplings are served with spicy sesame and red pepper chutneys. It’s definitely worth not skipping on the chutneys – the interior was a little bland and the filling fairly light. The accompanying sauces are needed for necessary flavour and heat.
We also shared Crispy Okra Salt’n’Pepper (£7.50), seasoned with pink salt, chilli and burnt garlic. These are some good lady fingers, paired with a vibrant green chutney made of coriander and a mild chilli. Again, the chutney elevates these bites to next flavour levels.
The star of the show for both my companion and I were undoubtedly the Sticky Sesame Vegetables (£9, mild, on request given I hear they should come with a spice warning). Fried vegetable fritters covered in a sticky, spicy glaze, these bite-size chunks are utterly addictive, in a good way. A challenge to manoeuvre with a chopstick, though, my only complaint is that larger chunks of these morcels of joy would be welcome – both as easier to coordinate with a chopstick and also more satisfying to eat.
To finish, we tried the Sizzling Brownie with Madagascan vanilla ice cream (£9.50). The dish was very reminiscent of a similar but warmer sizzling brownie served in a seaside Mumbai café. Served on a heat-resistant plate, the brownie is topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream but the icing on the cake (or the brownie…) is the hot chocolate sauce poured over when served. Given this was the vegan take, the chocolate was dark, taking the desert to another level of richness. Probably a bit too chocolately for me, it’s nice to see the restaurant recreating so many of these authentic Mumbai treats.
Fatt Pundt puts a unique subset of Kolkattan culture front and centre on our plates. Just the idea of a Chinese-Indian mash-up sounds like the worst of both worlds, but in Fatt Pundit’s hands at least, it’s actually the best. Go for exuberant flavours served with skill and flair in an ultra-friendly space.
Fatt Pundit, 6 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7NA