The Urdu word goyaa , refers to the suspension of disbelief that takes place when fantasy is so realistic that it temporarily becomes real. Usually associated with the good powerful storytelling, restauranteur Siddharth Somaiya has chosen it for his new culinary venture.
In a quiet bylane away from the hustle bustle of monsoon traffic and potholes, the narrative begins with an appropriate setting. Designed by Architecture and Design Studio — STaND, Goyyaa has a minimalist approach with high ceilings, cane chairs, clean grey walls and an open kitchen on the far end, sending a message that you can gather around to watch the food being prepared, just as you would at the bar, situated in the centre corner. Behind it, gradient rises with a flight of steps on the side leading to casual seating options.
Somaiya, who earlier helmed the Bao Haus Co, has roped in his buddy Mariki Sayles a New York friend from his first job). When Sayles came to India, she realised not every ingredient from the United States was available here. So, she set out to find suitable replacements that were available locally. For example when she couldn’t buy the herb gentian, Sayles replaced it with an interesting Ayurvedaic option — chirayta.
Sayles begins the first chapter of our meal at Goyaa with the Universal Gravitation (₹550), a gin-based drink with apple and toasted fennel. The creaminess of white beer and cool absinthe in the drink pave the way for our first dish, Carrot Mochi (₹400), a carrot dish which presents the vegetable as a doughy dumpling, pickled and roasted form with a vinaigrette tossed in nutty pistachio dukka.
We are gripped and we move to the next offering. The Sichuan Shrimp (₹300) is cocooned in a lettuce wrap and comes drenched in a coconut sweet potato cream, which transports us to the seaside, and keeps us hooked with its yummy side of mango chilli salsa.
The Cast Iron Cauliflower (₹ 350) takes us from France to Chennai in one spoonful of mash with dollops of vadouvan butter. The fresh orange slices and a rather chewy toasted sour dough cuts the creaminess of the brown butter - blended with French masala that contains curry powder among 16 other ingredients. At this point, we are floating in a flavourful stupor. We’re surely coming back for this one.
The Pulled Lamb BBQ (₹500) is served with a jalapeno corn bread, smoked in hickory and topped with fried pickles. The jus is way too salty and promptly kills our taste buds. The Pork Belly Burger (₹400) comes with a punch of sundried tomato ketchup, kimchi mayo, but we find the juicy patty a tad too salty, between a brioche bun that is too dry. The Veggie Burger (₹350) is a mouthful of chickpea patty with tzatziki spread and a side of sweet potato fries and packs in a spicy punch.
The end of every story should leave an imprint , and Sayle has saved No Sugar Tonight (₹550) for last. A cloudy milk punch of whiskey, coffee bean liqueur, fig and clarified milk is stiff, smooth as every liqueur should be, and leaves us with a subtle sweetness of figs on our palate. To keep up with the mood, Somaiya serves us dessert, ’Smore. It is a chocolate lava, drizzled with miso caramel, and whiskey toasted marshmellows.
Despite the hiccups, Goyaa is a story we’d like to read again, for its no-pretence décor, well-crafted cocktails and a soulful food menu.
Goyaa, Byculla East; phone: 23717123