The first time I heard about Burma Burma was when I was researching on places to eat in Mumbai. While I never made it to Mumbai, a year later they opened up in my neighbourhood at the ever expanding CyberHub complex in Gurugram.
Serving only vegetarian Burmese food – alongside some Indian, Chinese and South Asian influences – Burma Burma is also a Tea Room where a variety of flavours reside which are often brewed on the table in cute transparent kettles.
The restaurant does suffer somewhat from an identity crises. Its decor is upscale with colourful knick-knacks all around including huge bells hanging from the ceiling. The food on the other hand is causal – nicely presented – and because the place is a little cramped – almost claustrophobic when full, as it was when I visited – it has a “street” feel to it. As a result, when busy, there’s a sense of chaos all around, which fortunately is kept under control by the management.
The service at Burma Burma is impeccably urbane – probably one of the best I’ve come across in recent times; minimal interference and maximum impression. Courteous, quick, and accommodating, the staff is grounded and eager to please the customer, always with a smile.
The menu is diverse enough to satisfy the whims of most that enter through the doors, but simultaneously compact to the point that it doesn’t – thankfully – try to please everyone. Take the Raw Mango Salad that I was wary about, but it turned out to be one of my favourites with a beautiful crunchy texture and the zing that makes raw mangoes such a delight.
Of all the things I got to try – and I shall go through them one by one, fear not – the Creamed Corn with Paranthas was the most mundane with flavours that were more homely – as in “even I could have made this at home” – and less exciting.
Now, my son’s presence at the table led to a dessert being ordered at the very beginning. The Chocolate Caramel Dome with a semi-hard top and a gooey bottom has the heaviness of chocolate that can never be appreciated after a filling meal. Since that was not the case with us, the flavours, especially the crunch of the caramel, was very much cherished. I would like to suggest an alternate name for this deceptively small looking dish though, as it can easily be called “Death by Chocolate”.
The Coconut Rice with Peanut Sauce was the spiciest of the lot but had some really bold flavours. A point of caution at Burma Burma is that their quantities are quite sufficient and thus it’s easy to order more than you’ll finish. Nonetheless, they do doggy-bag the leftovers for you.
Saving the best for last, when my son lost all interest in the chocolate – after having run all this fingers through it – the saving grace that kept him at bay for a while was the Peach and Chocolate Bubble Tea (Milkshake). As I only had the latter, it came with a pleasingly strong chocolate milk taste with the addition of soft chewy “pearls” that added a whole new dimension to the drink.
Now, there was no chance that I would go to a place called Burma Burma and not try the quintessential Burmese dish; Khao Suey. One of my all time favourite things to eat, the restaurant allows a choice of noodles for the Khao Suey – Flat, Whole Wheat, Hakka – out of which I went with Udon. I do know the base is coconut milk, but maybe because there was already coconut rice on the table, the khao-suey felt slightly heavy on the coconut taste – considering all the beautiful vegetables that were already a part of it – but then that’s why it is accompanied with various condiments that can be added to help in dulling the flavor besides adding texture – that word again – to the food.
The Burma Burma Oh No Khao Suey had a beautiful mustard-yellow colour and an intoxicating smell. The condiments, placed previously on the table, have always been my favourite aspect of a Khao Suey and it wasn’t long before I was adding spoonfuls of everything that was offered in addition to a squeeze of lime, which eventually led to multiple lovely bites of Burmese goodness.
The Khao Suey at Burma Burma wasn’t the best I’ve had but it comes close to it. The control over spices and importance given to flavours, especially those that dominate the regional cuisine, is what makes Burma Burma the new kid on the block that has everyone jealous.
The playfulness of the food at Burma Burma especially in terms of textures is extremely stimulating. However, although a lot still needs to be tried from the menu, after my first visit, I feel sticking to food that is traditionally Burmese is recommended.