With three Indian speciality eateries in New York City and one in New Delhi, restaurateur Saurabh Anand brings this experience to India’s western coast – Goa. His restaurants Moti Mahal, Awadh and Bhatti Indian Grill are in the midst of the Manhattan bustle, while Masala House in Delhi, just 2 kilometres from India Gate.
Anand’s new venture seems like a world away, in the sleepy village of Assagao, less than five kilometres inland from Goa’s crowd-favourite Anjuna Beach. Here, a Portuguese villa from the 19th century is what houses his new venture – S.E.A.
A structure with a red-tiled roof and a columned porch welcome you, as the entrance opens to a high-ceilinged space lit with criss-cross rafters, which give the place a happy and casual feel. Pale yellow floors with vertical tiling work in shades of green, and the use of wood in furniture and décor accents, gives the laid-back space a touch of panache.
The menu is influenced by Anand’s culinary journey through South-east Asia, with some tastes of India too. Crowd favourites are the Lotus Stem with Tamarind Chilly, Raw Papaya Salad, Onion Paniyaram, Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, and Ghee Roast Black Pepper Mutton. The menu has something for everyone.
Anand recommends a couple of dishes from his own list of must-haves – Kerala Prawn Thoran (a kind of stir-fry), Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls and Stir-fried Mushrooms with Bok Choi. The signature dishes though, are Thai Garlic Prawns, Crab in Singapore Style Chilli Curry and Cumin Lamb Briskets. Eggplant, tofu, lamb chops, fish and pork ribs are offered in a grilled preparation.
For a sweet finale, there’s Asian Panna Cotta, Sago Piak (a Thai dessert), Badam Payasam and Pineapple Delight.
While the food menu makes for a sumptuous meal, it’s the drinks that shine through. The thirst-quenching department is under the expert eye of award-winning Russian mixologist Evgenya Prazdnik. With a career spanning over 15 years, she has worked at some of the most popular eateries, from Moscow’s Swissotel Krasnye Holmy to the Sky Bar in Colombo.
The cocktails offered are world class, with warm touches of coastal Goa. They involve unusual, natural twists namely Chrysanthemum-infused Gin, Homemade Beetroot wine, Smoked Paprika Cordial and the Blue-coconut Sorbet. The Dr Haldi, Cactus Alert, Wonder Cup and Vitamin S.E.A are some of the funky cocktails by Prazdnik, which combine liquor with fresh coastal produce like spices, herbs, fruits and flowers.