Restaurant Review: Burma Burma Mumbai Comforts And Thrills At The Same Time

Welcome to the world of sour and savoury at the newest Burma Burma outlet in Mumbai. Brace yourself for funky salads with fermented tealeaf paste, soups bobbing with samosas and desserts, in a refined yet relaxed setting.

Published On Mar 21, 2024 | Updated On Mar 21, 2024


Have you ever pondered why we don’t have many Burmese restaurants in India? I doubt it. It’s probably the most underrepresented Asian cuisines in a country obsessed with Asian food to the point that Chinese food (of rather ‘Chindian’) has seeped into our culture and is the most popular cuisine in India. But that may change. Ankit Gupta, the co-owner of Burma Burma, which is a chain of vegetarian restaurants, is pushing the cuisine to the forefront of India’s food scene – one tea leaf salad at a time. 


Entering Burma Burma’s latest outlet (12th in the country) at Mumbai’s Oberoi Mall is akin to signing up for a crash course in Burmese art and handicrafts. A humungous six-feet pagoda dances over the dining room while hand painted murals depicting the lush Bagan region in Burma dress up the walls. Colonial style arches and stained-glass panels nod to the British rule in the country which lasted from 1824 to 1948. Burmese artifacts wink and blow kisses from behind the tea bar and sliding wooden trellis play hide and seek with the private dining room (PDR). It’s both hugely Instagrammable and a peaceful retreat from the bright and buzzy mall corridors. 

Let me be upfront: my knowledge of Burmese cuisine is limited to Khow Suey – the deliciously thick, coconutty noodle soup jazzed up with a range of condiments. “Burmese food has relatable flavours but is also unique. It has rice, coconut, chillies, tamarind, which are familiar to Indians, but also tea leaf paste and balachong a relish of peanuts, jaggery, chillies which is used to funk up plain rice or noodles,” explains Gupta who grew up eating Burmese food as his mother lived in the country for almost 23 years. 

“I grew up amidst rich Burmese textiles, artifacts and food at home. There was always Burmese food in my tiffinbox in school and college and my friends loved it. That got me thinking of opening a Burmese restaurant,” says the 37-year-old restaurateur who travels to Burma (now Myanmar) every 4-5 months to remain connected to the cuisine. 

I start my initiation into the cuisine with Samuza Hincho – a tangy soup with two mini samosas swimming in it. Unlike a Punjabi samosa, this one has a filling of chickpeas, some lentils and vegetables. Together with shredded cabbage and raw mangoes it makes for a delicious and hearty start. 

The tealeaf salad

Next up is Mandalay Laphe Thoke. Laphe is Burmese for tealeaf while thoke translates to salad and Burmese eat a copious amount of salads, informs Gupta. The tealeaf salad with a dazzling array of colours, full of crunch from finely sliced vegetables and nuts and an intense flavour of tealeaf paste is the most popular one. The punchy, briny aftertaste is almost addictive. The Burmese even turn spring rolls into salads with tomatoes, fresh bean sprouts and a zingy dressing of tamarind and chilli oil. 

By the time I navigate to the fourth dish one thing becomes clear – Burmese  cuisine is based on strong, pungent flavours, not sweet or spicy notes you find in the neighbouring country Thailand. Umami is also a strong contender along with textures even within the same dish. Take the Mohinga for instance – a bowl of tender rice noodles and banana stems, revered as the national dish of Myanmar. The rich lemongrass infused broth with the silky noodles and crisps kept magnetically drawing my spoon back for one more exploratory slurp. 

The Khow Suey

Not all of it made sense though. Like the steamed Black Rice Cakes. Here soaked and pounded black rice is steamed in a banana leaf and served atop a coconut and lemongrass broth. It needs ample help from the zesty condiments on the table. The soft, sublime assemble felt like the ultimate love child of Kerala puttu. Interestingly Burma also has its own version of the tofu. Called tohu, it’s made with chickpea flour and dressed with radioactively-orange, spicy sauce for a succulent starter. There’s a wide selection of bubble tea, artisanal tea, zero proof G&T and kombuchas to cut through the tide of spicy, sour notes.  

There’s a wide selection of bubble tea, artisanal tea, zero proof G&T and kombuchas at Burma Burma

The star of the show for me was the Khow Suey with the anticipated creamy richness of coconut milk broth and reassuring crunch from crispy shallots and browned garlic. It’s soothing, yet punchy. I finished my maiden meal at Burma Burma with the pleasurably messy Burmese Falooda with chilled coconut milk, sweet bread, jelly and sticky rice. So good. There’s also chef Vinesh Johny’s famous cheesecakes.

To the uninitiated (read me) Burmese cuisine can feel like learning a thrilling new culinary language. But I am glad I did it now, before the rest of the world catches on. 

Address: Oberoi Mall, Off Western Express Highway, Goregaon East, Mumbai 

Timing: 12pm-3pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm (weekdays); 12pm-3.30pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm (weekends)  

Meal for two: INR 2,000 plus taxes

Photo: Featured Restaurant