Inside Goyaa, Byculla | All The Deets
“Another well-known restaurant is opening up next door to us,” whispers Siddharth Somaiya, owner and chef at Byculla’s newest dining destination, Goyaa. It seems South Mumbai patrons find Byculla daunting which is why Somaiya is happy for the addition of new venues, making Byculla a more legitimate destination for dining and nightlife, and we couldn’t agree more. The easy to find Goyaa is a stunning venue; minimal, modern and welcoming with multi-level dining, soaring ceilings, an open kitchen and central bar.
If a few dishes on the menu seem familiar to you, that’s because they’ve been transported from Somaiya’s earlier venture, The Bao Haus Co. Apart from these delicious buns, the menu is predominantly Asian with some comfort food along with a unique and exciting dessert menu. Alongside the food, the cocktails, curated by Mariki Sayles (ex-Le Bernardin), manage to shine just as brightly, if not more. They are perfectly balanced concoctions made with in-house ingredients, syrups and bitters, that will make you swoon (in a good way).
My companion and I chose a table up top the amphitheatre style seating so that we could get a view of the entire restaurant, and trust me, I think it’s the best seat in the house. I started off with a Shango Sling that I could have downed in a few minutes had decorum not gotten the better of me. Not too sweet, the rich molasses of the Old Monk was nicely cut by the homemade ginger beer and then heightened by the passionfruit juice. The Instant Crush made with gin, hibiscus, grapefruit rose and cardamom will immediately transport you to a sunnier, happier state of being. Picture yourself on a grassy field, sipping on one of these as the sun warms your skin. Things were already looking good.
To get our meal going, we ordered six starters and two sides from the nicely separated vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus. A tangy, whipped burrata was served atop charred broccoli with a sweet plum jam that gave acidity and sweetness to the dish. The mix of flavours was unexpected but enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Mac & Cheese Bao crushed our dreams of creamy, cheese macaroni, messily enveloped between fluffy bao. The mac and cheese was smoked and then deep fried in a crisp batter which, though an interesting interpretation, was too dry for my liking. The Dan Dan Noodles were exactly what you’d expect, a bowl of noodles in peanut sauce. The pickled cucumbers served with this, however, were really delicious (Goyaa, if you’re listening, add these as sides!)
Next up was the Sichuan Shrimp served with Coconut-Sweet Potato Crema, Mango-Chili Salsa in a Lettuce Wrap. I found the shrimp to be slightly over peppered though enjoyed the crema immensely. The Butter-Milk Fried Chicken Bao, a kind of Asian chicken and waffles, was decadent at each bite. The honey Sriracha glaze, rainbow salad and spicy mayo came together beautifully and sang a song of texture and flavour. My personal favourite bao, however, had to be the Pork Belly Bao, made with pork imported from Belgium. The melt in your mouth pork was packed into lighter than air baos along with watermelon, goat cheese and coriander-ginger, jamming every bite with tons of flavours. The watermelon truly was an ingenious touch.
We also ordered a couple of sides such as their deliciously priced Spiced Sourdough Chips, Prawn Crackers and Fries & Bacon Jam (each at INR 100 a pop). The sourdough chips were essentially spiced pieces of lavash served without anything to moisten the chips which I don’t think added enough value to the meal. I’m a huge French fry connoisseur and I’m happy to say these were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. The bacon jam, as delicious as it was, needed to be slightly less grainy, more jammy and more bacon-y. The Prawn Crackers were my favourite however the excessive salt meant I needed sips of my quickly diminishing cocktail between bites.
For our mains, having been suitably stuffed already by our expert server Ramesh, we kept it light. The Burnt Jumbo Prawns saw some of the biggest prawns I’ve ever seen in my life, each as large as my palm! They were perfectly charred and served with a bold sambal cream, garlic chips and chives. The Duck Dumplings were delicious parcels of delicately spiced duck drizzled with chilli oil and served with ginger and a wasabi dip that I might have sipped on as the follow-up to my cocktails. I also loved the ridiculously rich Cast Iron Cauliflower served with Vadouvan Butter, Orange Supremes and Sourdough. The cauliflower was baked in a creamy, buttery sauce that was salty and spicy at the same time. The orange supremes which cut across all that richness offered a really nice contrast to all the dairy.
Now onto my favourite part of not only the meal but my life in general, dessert. My companion and I each ordered one dessert, the PB & J and the ‘Smore. Disclaimer, I don’t love peanut butter in desserts because I feel it overpowers every other flavour however, the PB & J really surprised me. The peanut butter mousse was light and not heavy-handed at all with the PB, while the peanut brittle and strawberry jam gave me more reasons to come back with each taste. I’m a huge chocoholic so I couldn’t say no to the chocolate lava cake served with a miso-caramel and whiskey marshmallow. The juxtaposition of sweet and savoury flavours was superb and the drama, subtle.
Goyaa promises something that I haven’t seen done very well lately; a varied yet limited menu paired with knowledgeable, confident service, that is priced so reasonably, you feel you might be ripping the restaurant off. The next time you’re struggling to decide between the suburbs and South Mumbai for dinner, meet midway at Goyaa and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.