On top of my mind, as I head to Wykiki, was the thought that Kolkata’s favourite hang-out joint, Splash at Swissotel was gone. And in its place was Wykiki, a south-east Asian street bar. As I walked in, the first thing I spotted was a gorgeous, glass-windowed cabana that also allowed for outside seating and a bar; unlike the predecessor. Wykiki allowed for both; a big tick.
The buzzy yet relaxed space has a community table for people to hang out. The idea was to build a space where people could mingle, nurse a good drink and choose from a delectable menu, says Ashis Rout, executive chef at Swissotel Kolkata, who, along with GM Subhrajit Bardhan, and director of Sales Ishandeb Chatterjee, were the brains behind Wykiki. The team decided to elevate the south east Asian experience with memorable street gems, given Kolkata’s vibrant street food culture and love for pan-Asian cuisine.
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“Kolkata is a city of chatoras and ardent food lovers. We chose dishes that could be maintained in their original form and appeal to diners. We did not want to present dishes that our people would not understand or where I would have to change the recipe to meet demands,” says Rout, of the months of research, testing and tasting to put together the menu.
Sidestepping Chinese cuisine, Wykiki offers delectable dishes from the streets of Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong, Seoul and Hanoi at price points that are easy on the pocket. The tipple menu boasts 30 odd cocktails that complement the food.
Jimbaran Style Prawns
We all have our favourite prawn curry but none of them include fruits. Jimbaran Style Prawn, inspired from a dish served on the streets of Bali, is cooked in curry-style sauce and garnished with fresh, seasonal fruits. The spicy curry complements the juicy prawn and fruits give it a sweet texture that cuts away into the heat, balancing it perfectly.
Shrimp Laksa at Wykiki
We’ve had dimsums (not momo!) but the Gold dusted dark & handsome at Wykiki is another story. The rich dark chicken dimsum shaped like a seashell sprinkled with gold dust is inviting, both visually and in its textured flavours. Next was Shrimp Laksa with home-made curry. A complete meal in a bowl, the curry is thoughtfully served on the side.
Crispy Thai Lotus Root at Wykiki
There are some usual suspects that are showstoppers as well—the Crispy Thai lotus root with sesame is delightful and textured. The perfect substitute for fried potato chips or wedges, the lotus step is a saucy-crunchy accompaniment to your drink. If you like to wash down your drink with a spice kick, Whistling chicken is worth a try. Bite-size fried chicken is garnished with sun dried bullet chillies that add a beautiful smokiness instead of spice and heat.
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Round up your meal with the Wykiki’s Signature Pork Spare Rib with Oyster Glaze and Fresh Herbs. The meat is cured for almost a month and then cooked for nearly 12 hours ensuring that you have the most tender, falling-off-the-bone, pork ribs.
We paired our meal with Passionate Cosmo. A take on the ever popular Cosmopolitan made with home-made passion fruit reduction. It is served in a bowl of ice that keeps the cocktail cool, so you don’t have to worry about insipid and diluted drink if you like nursing your drink. Another favourite is the Crystal gin & tonic. The addition of Yuzu tonic lends a citrus flavour to the regular gin & tonic. And as the ice melts, the crystals turn the pure white liquid into a soothing blue.
While south-east Asian street food and staples keep the menu spunky, the pizza and lasagne on the menu seems a bit out of place. Post 8.30 pm, the place transforms into a club with loud music and dim lighting. So, if you’re looking for a place to chat up with buddies, reach early.
Hookah is served both inside and outside. My own pet peeve, but I don’t like the idea of smoke infiltrating my food in a closed space. A designated hookah area would have been ideal.
If you are missing your favourite bao or craving freshly steamed dimsum and some delectable street-style cuisine, Wykiki makes sure you get the real thing.
Swissotel Kolkata, City Center 2, Noapara, Newtown, Kolkata
Timing: 4pm - 12am (Monday to Thursday), 4pm - 2am (Weekends)
Images courtesy: Ayan Nandi