Chennai’s Koox sets out to conquer Goa with a restaurant, speakeasy and gold dusted Negronis

At Kasa X Koox in Goa’s trendy Vagator, built in a record three months to launch in time for the party season, dine on fresh lobsters served with imaginative cocktails

November 25, 2022 04:06 pm | Updated November 28, 2022 01:06 pm IST

A view of Kasa X Koox

A view of Kasa X Koox | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Perhaps you moved to Goa to find yourself. You wouldn’t be the first. Especially over the past couple of years.

With the pandemic, the country’s favourite holiday destination also became a popular refuge as people from across India flew in for extended visits, set up second homes and sometimes relocated, charmed by the Goan sunshine, beaches and pace of life. Restauranters, chefs and designers followed, resulting in a creative, competitive and vibrant dining scenario, co-existing with the state’s familiar beach shacks, omelette stalls and Maggie noodle stations. 

Now, finding yourself in Goa is an admittedly much plusher journey, complete with designer lounge-wear and Negronis at sunset.

This is the audience that Chennai’s popular Koox, which just launched Kasa X Koox, is designed for, as evidenced by the restaurant’s glamorous launch party, sparkling with aperol spritzers, hipsters and It girls from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and of course, Goa. Set in a suitably discreet location in trendy Vagator, down a dirt track that plunges through a tangle of trees, it rises up unexpectedly swathed in shimmering glass and deep house music.

Shweta Gupta, founder, Koox

Shweta Gupta, founder, Koox | Photo Credit: Sudarshan

“Even half an hour ago, we were still pulling this place together,” says Shweta Gupta, founder of Koox, taking a deep breath as the party kicks off. “It is still work in progress.” Despite the apparent chaos behind the scenes, the vibe is relaxed as her crew, handpicked from across the country serve gin highballs, spiked with pomegranate nectar, and heady Negronis, made with single origin cold brew coffee distilled gin, along with trays of mala chicken, spicy tuna maki and bowls of burnt garlic edamame. Guests move between Kasa, the roof top bar, and Koox, the restaurant, where dinner comprises tiger prawns from the robata-yaki BBq grill, sushi and truffle garlic sticky rice, tossed with edamame.

The next day, over lunch, the air is heady with triumph as staff trade stories on how the party, despite inevitable opening night hiccups, drew in “friends of friends of friends” from across Goa through the night. Shweta chuckles that their real achievement was building the restaurant and getting it ready to host guests in a record three months. “We got the property in August, at which point this was all rubble. The kitchen wasn’t ready when the staff were hired, so they started training in other Goan restaurant kitchens. Chefs shared their suppliers... “ she says, adding “This is the beauty of Goa. I have never seen camaraderie like this between restaurateurs. I didn’t know a culture like this exists.”

A cocktail at Kasa X Koox

A cocktail at Kasa X Koox | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Shweta says though she started looking for a property more than a year ago, it took a while to find one that ‘felt right’. “This is not on a market. I heard about it via a friend — the owner has these incredible tree houses that he rents out in the same property. When I visited I loved the vibe.” Discussing why Goa is an ideal space for Koox, she says “I want to take it all over the country, and this is a great testing ground as it draws people from everywhere.”

Targeted at the locals and long staying visitors in particular, Kasa X Koox encompasses 3 different venues, each with its own cocktails, food menu and vibe.

Kasa on the terrace offers small bites, like gyoza, panko prawns and sake marinated chicken wings, with a curated menu of sundowner cocktails from mimosas to a limoncello-basil collins. The restaurant, Koox, which opens for lunch and dinner features small plates, like avacado tacos, tuna tataki and yellow tail carpaccio, as well as a selection of grilled meats and locally sourced seafood, starring lobster. And there is a speakeasy on the property, called The Other Side, which opens next. In the tradition of all speakeasies, entry will pose enough of a challenge to make the space intriguing.

The interiors

The interiors | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

If you do get in, order their sparkling Negroni, a combination of gin, vermouth and Campari – stirred with gold dust. After all, a gold dusted cocktail is as good a way of finding yourself as any: particularly as Goa’s first ‘post-pandemic’ party season kicks off, with energy, hope and anticipation.

Kasa X Koox is at Casa waters, House number 588, Ozran beach, Vagator beach.  A meal for two costs approx. 3,000. Call 9168601304.

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