My thoughts on experiences this far…
Friday August 1st 2014

Notes from Goa: Dismal food and then some surprises!

A couple of posts from Goa to share experiences in real time…and this one’s on non-Goan and non-Indian food I’ve had here over 4 years. There’s much to say on the subject but I’d try to limit my observations to a manageable-sized post :)

First, I’d break the myth about foreign cuisines here. The continental, Italian or Chinese food I’ve had in most places in Goa has cost as much as it has in Delhi or Gurgaon and it’s been poorly cooked and hugely disappointing. Going by experiences related in the Goa section of Indiamike, one would think that Goa is a haven for well-presented steaks, sizzlers, fish preparations and pastas. The truth is that almost any eatery in every other lane of Goa claims to present the ‘best steaks in Goa,’ and much of this food is cooked by mundus (cooks) from Orissa, Himachal or Nepal who douse their preparations with excessive ketchup, Worcestershire or soy sauce. Floyd’s in Candolim had long been on my list for sizzlers and steaks but recently a meal there showed me why it’s safer to steer clear of tourist-oriented zones for food. Its steak and chicken sizzler were unpleasantly sweet and the meats were hurriedly combined with their sauces. Sunset Bar at the edge of Baga presented a beautiful setting for a meal and I could see why Europeans from my complex liked visiting it regularly for a drink. But its lasagna tasted stale and it was topped with such a lot of chewy mozzarella that it felt the cook had been compelled to add loads of any cheese he could find just so he could skip the pasta sheet and still sufficiently hide the meat sauce. Conversely, its bite-sized grilled chicken sandwich didn’t plan for any cheese unless one insisted and paid extra for it.

Another place I was determined to catch this time was Kimfa on Calangute. Most reviews had mentioned its Chinese to be VERY good. Kimfa is blessed with a visible location and pulls in a lot of Westerners but I feel its main course dishes are close to the over-fried Chinjabi fare popular among us in Delhi. It probably does some authentic Chinese cuisine like Roast Duck (mentioned as a special item on my visit) that appeals to the Western taste but its two dishes we tried were just palatable, NOT very good.

One more place that had long been on my list to visit was Lila’s Café on Baga. We could never find the place operating until this time. Yes, it’s run by a German lady and the food is authentically German. As a group of 7, that we were on our visit, we managed to try many main course items on the menu and we thought the food was only just about okay. Its steak meat was good but the sauce was salty and the pepper-steak meant far too many peppercorns to negotiate with.

It appears that Sunset Bar in Baga or another place, Guru in Anjuna, believe that people will go there any which way for their location so they needn’t bother working on their food. Many such places throw in free WiFi as a good measure to ensure the crowds but don’t work on their food. St. Anthony is another such place on Baga that attracts crowds because of its Karaoke and location on the breezy beach and less for its food.

Then some surprises…

Lila’s Café does a fantastic job of its Chocolate mousse. Go there for that and a shot of espresso. Its croissants are so buttery and soft that the teenagers in my group easily finished 3 of them waiting for their orders and could have had more. Also, don’t leave Lila’s Café without its flax seed smeared Knackbrot cracker packet. Those crackers are lovely to have with tea. Then, a chance order of a Chilli Cheese Garlic stuffed Naan at Floyd’s has redefined the concept of a Naan to us. Since discovering it, we’ve ordered it at many other places as our first order with drinks, but haven’t found it to be as well done as the Tandoori cook at Floyd’s manages it. Our meal at Kimfa educated us about steamed chicken wontons that we enjoyed experiencing and liked the way they came in a steel steamer. Before this, we’d only heard of fried wontons and steamed momos–never the two blended together! Our two visits to Capricorn on Calangute, in the past, have got us good preparations of pastas. We’ve been avoiding the restaurant to give others a chance but need to revisit it. Infantaria on the Baga-Calangute road has all its food pricey but also good. Its risotto, steaks and pastries have never disappointed us. It mostly pulls in crowds for its 5-pints of beer for Rs100 deal, but to us, it’s been practical to stop by some afternoons for its takeaway burgers and rolls. While in Calangute between 5-6 pm, I’d also push you towards the little Shwarma cart owned by Michael as after that he’d be out of food!

Do tell me what you think of these places and don’t forget to tell me about those you’ve enjoyed going to in Goa.

 

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