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Food: Popular Goa restaurant to open in Mumbai

Pickled Tea Leaf Salad
Pickled Tea Leaf Salad

If it wasn’t for Bawmra Jap’s wife, the little culinary jewel in Goa that goes by the name Bomra’s wouldn’t have existed. After all, it was only after the chef followed his better half to India, that it all transpired.

“I trained to be a chef in London and was working at a restaurant there in 2003, when my wife decided to move here for an HIV-related project. Our plan was to stay in Goa for four years, until its completion. I was excited because I’d never been to India before,” recalls Jap.

Chef Bawmra Jap
Chef Bawmra Jap

A year later, Bomra’s (a play on his name) was born. Today, the restaurant, located on the way to the popular Aguada Fort, enjoys none of the fame showered upon Infantaria or Thalassa. However, it is revered by those in the know, and therein lies its beauty.

This weekend, Jap will be at Magazine Street Kitchen to serve some of his most iconic creations to the shores of Mumbai.

Tuna with herb salad, tamarind soya jelly
Tuna with herb salad, tamarind soya jelly

Truly Asia
Jap hails from Myanmar, and his creations retain the soul of Burmese cuisine while drawing influences from nearby Laos, Thailand, and even China and even Northeast India. “I take traditional dishes and modernise them, make them lighter. For instance, authentic Burmese curry is quite oily and spicy. But, my version tones this down. We don’t rely on too much frying, either. Everything is kept as fresh as possible,” he says.

Slow Roasted Suckling Pig with Pumpkin Wasabi Mash and Spinach
Slow Roasted Suckling Pig with Pumpkin Wasabi Mash and Spinach

Secret garden
Diners keep coming back for a few favourites, such as the Pickled Tea Leaf Salad, the Slow Roast Pork, and the Bomra’s Spicy Tuna Larb (tuna cubes lightly seared and tossed with herbs). “People like these dishes, so we’ve kept them on the menu. You can also request a favourite that has gone off the menu, and we are happy to serve them. But I like creating new stuff, and urge regulars to try some of the new dishes out.”

His clientele, he shares, initially comprised expats and foreign visitors, but has slowly gone on to draw more and more Goans and Indian tourists over the years. “We don’t do any advertising. It’s all word-of-mouth publicity,” he says humbly. There’s something to be said about that.

Jap uses only the freshest catch
Jap uses only the freshest catch

Jap keeps Bomra’s open only during tourist season, from October to April (and till May 31 this year), and has a small garden at the house he shares with his staff (around 4km from the restaurant). Here, he grows his own herbs, as well as vegetables that are difficult to find in Goa.

“I grow pandan, pea aubergine, lemongrass and a few other plants. Some of the ingredients, like the tea leaves and black rice, come from the Northeast. Earlier, I used to bring these from Burma,” he says.

Novelist Amitav Ghosh has given Bomra’s his vote of approval, going so far as to declare it “unpretentious and welcoming, but [a restaurant that] that consistently serves some of the best food anywhere.”

ON: May 18, 19 and 21, 7.30 pm
AT: Magazine Street Kitchen, Byculla (E).
LOG ON TO: insider.in
COST: Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,500

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Food: Popular Goa restaurant to open in Mumbai