Located in a narrow by-lane of the bustling business district of Fort in Mumbai, Burma Burma is a unique vegetarian-only restaurant serving Burmese food. There aren’t a whole lot of places serving Burmese cuisine in Mumbai (or even across most of India for that matter), so the choice of cuisine itself makes this restaurant stand out. But Burma Burma goes a step further, by not only serving vegetarian Burmese dishes (which is also unique considering a lot of Burmese food is not vegetarian), but also presenting the food in an innovative way. The creative side of the Chef is also apparent in the way that certain Burmese cooking methods are tweaked with Indian ones to create dishes like Palatha (an adaptation of the famous paratha) and Samosa Soup. Besides the food, there are plenty of teas available, and there are some interesting desserts as well.
If you are in Mumbai and are up for some new type of food, then Burma Burma is highly recommended. But getting a table there can be a challenge. We called up to reserve one only to be informed that everything was booked for dinner. We really had to persevere and plead, and they agreed to let us in as walk-ins, but we had to reach there by 7pm and vacate the table by 8pm. Lunch time is also pretty busy, with corporate folks and other people hosting kitty parties and group lunches. Whatever time you decide to go, make sure you book a table in advance. This place is quite popular indeed!
As we went in for our dinner, we were seated at a table that had 4 types of sauces or dips on it. One was a tamarind sauce (sweet and sour), one was a garlic and chilly paste, then there was a peanut sauce and finally a chilly sauce. The last one was very very spicy.
(Plate and napkin)
(4 sauces offering 4 different flavours)
The restaurant itself is not that big, it can probably sit about 40-50 people at full capacity. That probably explains why it gets very crowded and rushed at most times. The overall ambience gave the place a cozy yet slightly Burmese feel, judging from the prayer wheels on the walls and the wooden finish on the ceiling representing Burmese bamboo and wood. The restaurant bathrooms were quite clean as well.
(decent ambience in the restaurant)
We started off with a mocktail, or a non-alcoholic drink. While there were many choices, including one which was made of coconut milk, we went with something less adventurous. We ordered the Pomegranate and Mandarin Spritzer, which was basically a drink made of Fanta, some Pomegranate crush, pieces of pomegranate, topped with mint leaves. It was quite good.
(pomegranate and mandarin spritzer)
Next up were our starters. Burma Burma has plenty of great starters to choose from. One highly recommended item is the raw mango salad (Thoke). We were not to keen on the Thoke’s and so we went with a unique item, a steamed sesame bun with chilly and garlic onion paste filling. These buns came in round dim sum boxes that you would normally see when you order dumplings. The steamed sesame bun is very Chinese, whereas the chilly onion paste has Indian influence. This makes sense as Burma is essentially a country sandwiched between India and China, and so its food is influenced by the cooking cultures of its two neighbouring countries.
(steamed buns with onion and chilly onion paste)
Our second starter was a chef innovation, the chickpea tofu. Similar to the Shan Tofu, it was made by grinding the chickpea and turning it into a tofu like texture. Then the tofu was stirred with a tangy chilly and garlic sauce. It tasted brilliant. The only complaint we had was that it should have come with some rice. The gravy was quite spicy and would have gone great with some simple steamed rice. Even though this dish was a starter, it can easily go as a main course vegetable.
(spicy and tangy chickpea tofu)
Next, it was time for the main course. We went with the most popular dish of not only the Burma Burma restaurant, but also the most popular Burmese dish in the opinion of Indians – The Khow Suey. Whenever anybody says Burmese cuisine, the first thing people often think of in India is the Khow Suey. It is a noodle soup dish in which the soup made of coconut milk. You get a choice of three types of noodles. The Khow Suey is topped with various condiments such as fried onion, fried garlic, green spring onions, peanuts, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some green garnish (we don’t know what it was). It tasted amazing, the soup was very creamy and the condiments gave it an added dimension. Most people who visit the restaurant order a Khow Suey, and we now know why.
(khow suey condiments)
( the famous khow suey)
Stuffed with all the delicious food we had, we pushed our appetite some more to have not one, but two desserts. All the desserts on the menu look interesting, but we went for the avacado ice cream topped with honey caviar, and the Tagu Pyi an. The avocado ice cream turned out to be a disappointment, as it tasted like plain milk ice cream. There was no taste or even a hint of avacado. The honey caviar on top was basically crystallized honey. The presentation however was quite interesting, as the ice creams were placed on a banana leaf and there was a glass next to the ice cream with cold steam coming out of it. It looked like they had put dry ice in water, which makes it give out a “steam-like” vapour.
(avocado ice cream topped with honey caviar)
Unlike the avocado ice cream, our second dessert was pretty delicious. It was basically an outer layer of coconut custard made with coconut and vegetarian gelatin, and a dark Burmese jaggery based preserve on the inside. The dish came with a piece of the dark jaggery on the side. The plate was decorated with some milkmaid smeared in a stylish manner. I would highly recommend this dessert over the avocado ice cream. Other interesting desserts included a chocolate ice-cream based dish, which would be worth a try as well.
(Tagu Pyi an – a desset based on Burmese jaggery)
All in all, it was a great evening, we really enjoyed the food and the chilled out ambience. The service was also quite decent. After our meal, when the waiters got our bill, they also gave us some tamarind candies. They were small tamarind balls with a sprinkling of salt on them. It added a nice touch to the overall Burmese theme of the restaurant.
Items: Burma Burma Restaurant and Tea Room (official website)
Price: Expensive. We paid around ₹2500 for the above meal.
Location: Kothari House, Allana Centre Lane, Opposite Mumbai University, Fort (Kalaghoda), Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
Telephone: +91 022 4003 6600 (make sure to call and reserve before you go)
Timings: 12pm to 3pm and then 7pm to 11 pm, open all days of the week
How to get there: Car/Cab. Close to Churchgate station if taking a local train. Valet parking is available, but in peak rush, driving in the narrow lanes can be tricky.