As we enter the iconic Goa Portuguesa on a busy weekday evening, we notice that this 150-seater restobar is quite full of guests: something that instantly tells you about the popularity of a restaurant. The restaurant is decorated tastefully, reflecting a cheerful Goan Christmas vibe. Flowers, bells, colourful decorations, fairy lights… all these accentuate the stunning and cosy Goan interiors and exteriors of Goa Portuguesa in Shivaji Park, Mumbai. We particularly like the glass paintings of Mario Miranda on the walls and a vibrant door with multi-coloured stained glasses. The decor definitely reminds of a traditional Goan bungalow. The façade resembles the Viceroy Arch and the dome of Mangeshi Temple in Goa. To add that extra zing to the overall ambience, they also have live Goan and English music on every weekend.
We settle down with a glass of sweet-n-sour Kokum Sherbet, as we hear from the GM, Norman D’Souza, about the star-studded #GP30 celebrations recently, when Goa Portuguesa turned 30. The story of Goa Portuguesa started three decades ago, when the young Awchat couple would venture out in Mumbai in search of authentic Portuguese-style Goan food, but couldn’t find any. It was during that time that the idea of opening up a Portuguese-Goan restaurant came up to their minds. Goa Portuguesa was born, converting Dr. Awchat’s polyclinic space into a busy restaurant! Soon, it was popular enough to get mentioned in reputed newspapers like “The New York Times,” “Washington Post” and “The Sunday Times,” among others. Goa Portuguesa won the prestigious Times Food Oscar Award for the Best Restaurant in 2012.
President’s Medalist and Maharashtra Ratna recipient Dr. Suhas Awchat is the Founder of the trio: Goa Portuguesa, Diva Maharashtracha and Dakshin Culture Curry. Being a doctor himself, Dr. Suhas ensures that the ingredients used are very fresh, and are free from additives, artificial colours, etc. Also, they don’t use frozen foods or ingredients. Dr. Suhas’s wife, Masterchef Deepa Awchat, a cookbook author and a well-known personality, handles the food production, Recipe R&D, Finance and HR of Goa Portuguesa.
Today, Goa Portuguesa is one of the largest foreign-exchange-earning restobar in Mumbai and one can often spot celebrities there. It is the first ISO/GTDC certified restobar in Mumbai and the only Goan and Portuguese ethnic eatery in Mumbai approved by the Goa Tourism Department.
If you thought that Goan food is predominantly non-vegetarian, then you must come to Goa Portuguesa, where apart from an obvious huge array of non-vegetarian choice, they have 108 vegetarian dishes to choose from.
Available during this Christmas month, the new menu has fabulous dishes. We tried a few of the new starters here. For instance, the Spice-Rubbed Rawas from the new menu was great in terms of both flavour and texture. Grilled fish is a tricky dish as it can get overcooked easily, but here, it was juicy and precisely cooked with an intoxicating blend of spices.
The Chicken Roulade is mind-blowing, too. Plump chicken fillets rolled in a killer combination of spinach, cheese and mushrooms, is surely a dish that would satisfy everyone’s Christmas palate. The creamy, herbed sauce complements the roulade and elevates the dish to the next level.
Another starter from the new menu, the Coconut Crunchy Prawns, is just wow. Non-spicy and bang-on, we could go on and on with these perfectly cooked butterfly prawns with a crunchy coating. The new menu boasts of Roast Turkey, a special Christmas dish that cannot be missed! Other special starters from the new menu include Grilled Paneer Stuffed with Green Chutney, Lamb Chops in Pepper Sauce, Curry Crumbed Chicken, Stuffed Mussels imported from Goa, Bell Pepper Mushroom Balls and Stuffed Lulus (squids). With so many lip-smacking festive dishes, every diner is surely spoilt for choices.
We would definitely stick to the bestsellers in the seafood-appetiser section: our favourites being the cheesy Prawn Rissois (stuffed in a thin puff and deep-fried) and Stuffed Crabs. Both the dishes are very flavourful here.
Among the regular starters from the old menu, we didn’t like the Chicken Cafreal much, which was cooked in a green gravy. However, the Roast Pork was perfect. The pork belly was so soft that it just melted in the mouth. The brown sauce that enveloped the pork, was itself delectable! This is undoubtedly one of the best dishes of Goa Portuguesa.
We tried an interesting veg appetiser called Green Peas Potato Chops, which are basically pattice of potatoes stuffed with a filling of green peas, onion and spices. The veg mains, too, have enough dishes to keep a foodie satisfied. Tender Coconut Cashew Nut Sukke is a mind-blowing dish, served in a tender coconut shell. It is totally addictive even for a hardcore non-vegetarian like me!
There are a variety of breads to choose from: Chapati, Pao, Garlic Pao, Appam, Amboli and Kerala Laccha Paratha. They also have Sannas (steamed rice cakes), which we mopped up with a wicked Pork Vindalho: a match made in heaven! The sour-n-spicy flavour of the rich Vindalho gravy is mind-blowing. This is a dish that you must try here. Pork Sorpotel is equally good here, made with pork meat and liver in a Goan red masala gravy soured with vinegar. And of course, they have Xacuti, a luxuriant gravy of meat cooked with onions, spices and coconut.
In the seafood mains, they have almost everything covered. Right from the Tisrya (clams) or Prawns Sukke to the spicy Prawn Balchao, everything is there fresh and flavourful. The popular Goan dish called Seafood in Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce is also there. Lobster is available in a few variations. Try the ultimate Lobster Goa Portuguesa, made with red wine, red masala and garnished with cheese. Also, we were fortunate enough to taste the rice and seafood based Arroz, the Portuguese version of the Spanish Seafood Paella. The Arroz was simple, yet out-of-the-world!
There are new desserts in the Christmas menu and each of these is delectable. So, whether you want to make your Christmas-time special with Fresh Lychee Pudding, Pasdel de Nata, Serra Durra or Maple Butter Waffles, is entirely your call. For a sweet-toothed foodie like me, the best option is to order all!
And then, there are the bestsellers like Kharwas, Caramel Custard, Bebinca and Dodol. Yes, they have it all.
The Cosmopolitan Currymania team leaves the exemplary Goa Portuguesa with a stomachful of Goan food memories, without actually visiting Goa. The music, the vibe, the food and the hospitality of the Awchat family leave us spellbound.
Address: Goa Portuguesa, Mili Building, T. H. Kataria Road, Near Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400016
Reservations: 022-24440202 / 022-24440707
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