It took three years to open Fatt Root. In 2015, Village Social Restaurant Group executive chef Mogan Anthony and partner Joe Bueti acquired the Pleasantville space that would become Pubstreet, and with it came the former Pony Express space across the street. Fans of Anthony’s Mura Ramen pop-up hoped this meant the concept would finally go brick-and-mortar, but as Anthony and Bueti started working on the second space, the vision began to change.
“It took a little pivot,” says Anthony. “The inspiration is from my hometown [in Malaysia], where you go at lunchtime to street vendors. I thought, How can I refresh that for 2019? People want to eat healthy, to have control over what they eat. How could we do that in an Asian setting and have it be fresh, without being greasy with tons of cornstarch and oils?”
Thus, came Fatt Root, the group’s first quick-service restaurant, which opened in October. Don’t let the convenience fool you: Everything is made from scratch, including the labor-intensive Thai red curry sauce and the three-day tonkotsu broth for the Butcher’s Daughter Ramen, a carryover from Mura. Clean-eating alternatives, like avocado oil and umami-rich kombu broth, sub for traditional animal fats, and nearly half the menu is gluten-free, while 90% of dishes are free of dairy.
Overseen by Chef Alex Gomez, the menu goes big on flavor. Egg-and-vegetable Tiger Mom dumplings on a slick of avocado purée are drizzled with lip-smacking avocado oil, while spicy pork dumplings are buried under fistfuls of crunchy shallots and herbs. Dan Dan noodles, doused in tingle-inducing Szechuan chili oil, are served with Impossible plant protein instead of pork. (Grab a salted calamansi lemonade to wash it down.)
Super-grain fried rice, featuring Fatt Root’s signature blend of steel-cut oats, brown rice and quinoa, has way more texture and nuttiness than the takeout version you likely grew up with. Build-your-own bowls — at $10.99, they’re the most popular order — can be topped with as many as 10 toppings, including Thai tamarind chili sauce, chopped peanuts, and refreshing green-papaya slaw.
And what about that name? Fatt means “lucky” in Cantonese, and “root can refer to vegetables but also ethnic cuisines,” says Anthony. “I’ve worked with Joe on a lot of different concepts, but this comes to me naturally. Now, I’m kind of back to my roots again.”
11 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville