STREET FOOD TO FANCY FRANCHISE: THE PAN ASIAN CULINARY EXPERIENCE WITH A FUSION TWIST AT MAMAGOTO
Food is a language that transcends all barrier. It does not matter which part of the world you hail from a good plate of food speaks greater volumes. There is a famous saying, “First we eat, and then we do everything else.” This goes without saying food is one of the most important aspects of our life as we are not able to sustain without it, undoubtedly the reason why food is at the top of the hierarchy pyramid of needs.
The world is very diverse and along with this, we can see a lot of diversity in food and cuisine. With different parts of the world having their own form of food and cuisine it is extremely hard to count the number of cuisines in present all round, not to mention with all the neo modern and fusion cuisines coming up and being invented by chefs and restaurants.
Along the path of fusion and modern food, Pan Asian Cuisine is gaining popularity by the day. The word ‘Pan’ refers to a menu that includes a number of distinguishable dishes from one particular cuisine, when the word is applied to restaurant establishments. The Pan Asian Cuisines are those restaurants that offer all the classic dishes from a selected eastern culture, however, they do not require to be located within Asian Countries. Basically, any cuisine from a culture originating from the greater continent of Asia including, but not limited to, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Indian.
The entirety of Asian cuisine can be split into four over-arching categories depending on its location in the continent; west central east or south. Western Asian cuisine is all the food that originates from the Middle East. Central Asian cuisine is cuisine originating from centrally-located countries such as Kazakhstan; however, the cuisine within central Asia takes inspiration from both its neighbours in the west and east. Southern Asian cuisine, also known as Desi cuisine, has strong roots in Hindu beliefs and customs. Southern Asian cuisine includes food from India.
As the hype for Pan Asian food is growing, more and more oriental cuisines are hitting the market. Among the many, Mamagoto is a popular franchise all the way from India, recently established here in Kathmandu and is slowly making a name as one of the better Fusion Pan Asian Restaurant. They have found a way to uplift the Pan Asian food by adding fusion flair to their foods. When ‘Mamagoto’ is translated literally, it means ‘to play with food’. So we at TNM decided to reserve a table at the new establishment to see for ourselves; the reason these cuisines are gaining so much popularity.
Located is Lazimpat, the restaurant carries our cool, quirky and funky décor with infusing the Pan Asian styles art and graffiti on the walls and the ceilings. The ambiance is relaxed and comfortable with a casual atmosphere all over the place. These aesthetics of the décor, interiors and the paintings are all found in every franchise of the chain.
While we were eagerly waiting on our food, we got a chance to learn more about the franchise and the roots of their inspirations. The restaurant claims the food they put out is nowhere near authentic as they do not have such word in their vocabulary; the reason, it sounds way too serious. However, it is the fusion of inspiration from Asian Street Hawkers which they based the franchise upon. Just like the meaning behind Mamagoto, the restaurant loves to experiment with different cuisines and have that playful nature with the recipes, ingredients and other spices to create a better plate of food.
STREET CHICKEN SATAY
The first item on the menu was The Street Chicken Satay. The dish arrives in a miniature stone grill along with a fresh salad, a slice of lemon and the peanut sauce for the dip. The chicken are diced to bite size and bayonetted in four wooden skewers. The portions of the dish may look small but when it comes to flavours, it packs a punch. The chicken, soft, tender and juicy, is cooked to perfection. The rich peanut sauce adds a subtle sweet taste which goes really well with the chicken and the complimentary salad on the side helps cut down the excess richness from the sauce making it well balanced taste.
VEG CRYSTAL DUMPLINGS
Dumplings have and always will be a prominent part of Pan Asian cuisine. These steamed and stuffed delicacies are favorite to many and is enjoyed worldwide. However the Veg Crystal Dumplings are not your standard looking dumplings. Just like the name suggests, these dumplings looks like small round crystals as the shell of these dumplings are completely transparent. The dough is entirely made of potai starch which then makes the dumplings transparent. The dumplings are stuffed with assortment of vegetables which includes, water chestnut, Shitake mushroom, lotus roots and carrots. They are served in a traditional bamboo steamer alongside soy sauce. These are soft and sticky and the mix of vegetables stuffed also complements each other perfectly. The sauce aloes helps enhanced the flavors furthermore.
Next on the menu were Basil Cups which are a Mamagoto classic. The dish is chicken, basil and Thai herbs served in lettuce cups alongside a sambal sauce. The chicken is just as good as the first dish but the thing that makes this dish stand out is the flavor of basil and Thai herbs infusing in your mouth. The addition of the sambal sauce adds a spicy kick to the dish but not overpowering. The dish looks even more appetizing as they are served in lettuce leaves shaped like a cup.
Rice bowls are a staple and a signature dishes at Mamagoto. This dish is inspired by Nasi Goreng, a classic Indonesian dish which the chefs have added a fusion twist and made it their own. The Mamagoto Goreng is fried rice served with sambal sauce, peanut sauce, chicken satay fried egg and prawns. This is a hearty dish which packs a lot of flavors to your taste buds. The ricked cooked the fried in soy sauce is great in itself but with the addition of the sauces, it helps the rice elevate even further. The egg and the chicken are always great to have with such rich dishes and uplift the entirety of the bowl.
SPICED ASIAN BBQ CHICKEN BREAST
Unless you are vegetarian, everyone enjoys a nice plate of barbeque. The spiced Asian BBQ chicken breasts is a dish that is bound to please many. Served in a miniature stone grill just like the chicken satay, this dish of barbecued chicken breasts will catch your eye and have you salivate the moment it reaches your table. The dish does not fail when it comes to taste. The grilled crust of the chicken along with the soft and tender inside and which melts in your mouth is a perfect example of a barbeque chicken and that is what this dish is. The sauces that accompanied this dish helps it elevate in terms of flavor without overpowering it.
At Mamagoto they have a special signature called ‘Mama’s Platers’. This is something every franchise of the restaurant has. We were served with the vegetarian Aunty’s platter which consisted of 4 pieces of Hua Hin Highway rolls, 3 pieces of Gyoza, 2 pieces of tofu satay and corn fritters. This salver certainly carries out their theme of fusion Pan Asian Cuisine as they incorporate dishes from many Pan Asian cuisine and comes to the table with certain flairs of fusion added by the chef. No doubt a signature selection at the franchise.
These were just some of the dishes at Mamagoto, Lazimpat from their extensive menu. From salads to soups, and noodles to dumplings, this retro and unconventional place had something for everyone and has the charm and attraction that has you wanting more and makes you come back often. The food we sampled were not everything from the menu but the ones we did, made us aware how much they care about their food and the dedication that goes on in making them. Truly a great new face to the flavor hungry people of Kathmandu.
WORDS BY BAIBHAV SHRESTHA
PHOTOS B Y GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR