5 January 2015
Bomra’s is at 247 Fort Aquada Road, Candolim, Goa. Open daily, from 6.30pm-late.
Visit their website for more information.
Goa in the peak season, as most of you know, is hell on earth.
Actually, it’s more like hell in Greater Kailash, where everything costs twice what it should, and everyone you left town to avoid is beating you for table reservations. And the one thing I don’t ever want to have to do on holiday is make advance table reservations.
First, a disclaimer: I am the Queen of Reservations. I love reservations. If I could, I’d call ahead at McDonalds to check if they can squeeze me in at Ronald’s table. But when on holiday, no, then I just want to rock up and be served a margarita in a coconut while you make me a table out of sand or whatever.
If you’re happy to forego the rubbernecking opportunities afforded by La Plage, Thalassa and the rest (and I am ecstatic to forego said opportunities), then you have in Goa a wealth of places that specialise in fish and shellfish, and pork and beef, and are of great distinction. Like any coastal town worth its sea salt, it’s the raw materials that really take your breath away: catch of the day so fresh that it’s still leaping about your plate, vats of freshly juiced fruit, sweet onions and salty strings of sausage…
But the problem with specialties in a tourist town is that everyone wants in on the bandwagon, and not all of them are nice. A plate of fresh calamari done right is a complete revelation. You can “ooh” and “aah” over its freshness, its simplicity, “oh calamari in Delhi just doesn’t taste like this…” But if a lot of revelations come along in quick succession, they’re not so much revelations as they are repetitions. And that’s before you even consider the ones that go wrong, the endless plates of rubbery squid and effing butter-garlic something-or-the-other’s I kept finding myself face-to-face with. When you find yourself reaching for the word “meh” to describe your dinner by the sea, it’s time to dust the sand out of your chappals and excuse yourself.
Contrary to the above, I’m not actually the Grinch that stole Goa. I love Goa, its people, its coastline and lush green bits. I love Goan sausage done right, with big torn-off hunks of poie bread. I particularly love those little grannies in great frocks that always seem to be swinging a basket on their way home at around four in the afternoon: they’re my favourite.
And I loved Bomra's.
I’m not sure when it opened (it’s been a fair few years), I don’t know its history (although it’s been recommended to me multiple times) and I can’t tell you whether its current menu is better or worse than its original menu, but I can tell you that it’s shuttered in the off-season, so don’t bother if you go in the monsoon.
Bomra's is Goa’s only Burmese restaurant; should that be India’s only Burmese restaurant? You can add that to the list of things I don’t know. What I do know is that at Bomra's the pomegranate margaritas are very strong (and, in my opinon, trump the much-lauded tamarind margs), service is incredibly slow, and my painstakingly prepared courses were delicious.
Burmese food is a blend of influences, all of them familiar. We tasted China, India, and Thailand in our courses that night. My lightly-seared beef salad was done just right, just pink and bloody enough that the slices disintegrated on my tongue, and dressed with basil, mint, coriander, sprouts and lime, and the skewers of beef and chicken liver are lightly charred and whet the appetite for the more generously-portioned mains. . The sashimi is incredible, and warrants a post all of its own, while the prawn curry is gentle and fiery in equal measure, which is quite a feat. Go with a big gang, so you can try absolutely everything. Or even, go by yourself, but multiple times, for the same reason.
Given my grousing of earlier, you might ask, did we have to make reservations?
Well, yes, we should have. Not a table to spare, we were told, but I insisted we stay to sample some of those cocktails I’ve heard so much about, and I’m convinced we earned ourselves that massive twelve-seater table just by working our way through a remarkable number of cocktails at silly speed. They do that annoying thing at Bomra's, where they take your order without writing anything down, always worrying when there’s more than six of you at the table, and it never ends well (two of the gazillion things we ordered never made it to the table). But the good thing about Bomra's is that those margaritas are so effing strong that you just don’t care.
And that feels exactly like a holiday should.