On the second floor of Select CityWalk, Saket, lies a portal to Burma. While the country is marred by conflict, the atmosphere here is one of contentment as people sample gastronomical delights under pagoda-top lanterns. One of the walls is lined with pairs of miniature dolls, each depicting an ethnic tribe. I’m visiting the third outlet of Burma Burma Restaurant and Tea Room, the first two being in Mumbai and Gurugram.
Launched in August, it presents the eclectic personality of Burmese cuisine—influenced by neighbours India, China and Thailand. The menu is a mishmash of nouvelle Asian dishes; the only restraint—it’s all vegetarian. “Most of the non-vegetarian food in Burma has an overwhelming odour thanks to fish broth or shrimp powder, which even meat-loving Indians wouldn’t like,” says Ankit Gupta, co-founder, who was inspired by his Burmese lineage to start the chain with a childhood friend.
For starters, I sip on a Nutella Bubble Tea. The fat straw is meant to accommodate chewy tapioca balls that give it the name ‘pearl tea’, a drink credited to the Taiwanese. The hincho (soups), too, deserve a mention. The Indian influence is crispy clear in samuza hincho (samosa soup), which is exactly what it sounds like—a samosa dunked in tangy soup with black chickpeas, carrot and capsicum.
Salads (thoke) may be optional for most Indians, but they are integral to a Burmese meal. Baby sunflower leaves and wheat flakes come together beautifully in naykar gyun akyaw thoke, while shredded raw mango shuffled with peanuts and onion makes for a sweet and sour ode to chaat in tayat thi thoke. But if you must order just one salad, make it the Mandalay laphet thoke. I’m told that 80 per cent of the tea produced in Burma is used in making laphet (fermented tea leaves).
The starters are plenty and varied. Pan-fried rice dumplings are as light as they come. On the other end is the steamed bun with crisp tofu and coconut sauce. I’m told it’s a hit, but, for me, tofu and coconut sauce just don’t mingle. The one that stands out is shan tohu mash served with flaky paratha, which speaks as much about the dish as it does of my very Indian palate.
The menu has a separate section for tea with over 25 varieties, and there’s also a tea bar. A pot of Irish Cream black tea helps me wash down half the menu. For the main course, the chef brings me their flagship oh no khow suey. Most customers here come armed with little knowledge of Burmese cuisine, but they almost always know about khow suey. Black glutinous sticky rice with black-eyed peas and pickled veggies make up a wholesome, albeit sour, meal. But when it comes to stir fries, let’s just say I don’t agree with pandas on the scrumptiousness of bamboo shoots.
Among the desserts, the heart cooler (basil seeds, coconut jelly, rice caviar in coconut milk) is redolent of kheer and a smokey avocado ice cream is very instagrammable (#foodporn) but will suit only hardcore avocado enthusiasts. If you’re a vegetarian, Burma Burma is a great place to show off the sheer variety of cuisine at your disposal to that forever-smug meat loving friend.
S-25, Second Floor, Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi, +91-11-49145807, burmaburma.in