Burma Burma, Kolkata review: The tea room recalling lost colonial flavours
In the last decade Kolkata’s Park Street has expanded upon its restrictive identity as a heritage thoroughfare. The newest addition to its line-up of experience-led diners is the largest outpost of the six-year-old tea room and diner chain Burma, Burma, which draws quite a few parallels between the colonial epicurean experiences of two neighbouring lands. The all-vegetarian joint has found astounding success in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Noida and Bengaluru, and Ankit Gupta, a third-generation restaurateur who co-owns the chain with Chirag Chhajer, tells us that the menu is an assemblage of treasured family recipes (Gupta’s mum spent the first 25 years of her life in Burma) and some well-documented culinary patterns from the heartland.
“We have taken a contemporary approach by exploring the wide array of ingredients and homegrown recipes to bring to you dishes that are unique in texture and flavour, yet every bit symbolic of the Burmese heritage,” Gupta tells us. The 3,500 square foot space has been curated as an immersive guide through Burma’s heritage.
You can spend some time at the tea bar that offers a diverse selection of flavoured, classic and specialty teas like saffron kahwa, the herbal organic rooibos, ginseng oolong etc. The space extends to a live dessert bar, neat and efficient in makeup, where guests can (and probably will) pause for some quick boomerang videos of confections being made in real time.
There are no wallpapers, instead you’ll find impressive hand-painted murals of Burmese rivers, the walls of the main diner have high-mounted Pali scripts encased in glass, it’s all very discerning but not overwrought and the same goes for the menu. If you’ve been to any other Burma Burma outlet, chances are you’re familiar with the Samuza Hincho, a perfect autumn soup made of spring vegetables and black chickpeas, featuring half-cut samosas; it’s a novel concept and a detour from most homely broths. The Taro Moringa soup, the recipe of which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Kayan tribe, is also punchy, but with a herbal relish.
Make it a point to have at least one thoke or salad on your table, they really do go with anything. It could be the tangy raw mango salad or the sunflower leaves and wheat flake salad dressed with some tamarind chilli, from the Kachin region of North Myanmar. The hot lotus stem chips are a signature, flavoured with paprika and curry leaves, and you can even buy some from their merchandise section. The grilled mock meat skewers are set to be a hit in Kolkata’s vegan dining culture; the skewers were well-seared with tamarind, lemon zests and a chilli garlic sauce made in-house.
The Khowsuey is easily and unsurprisingly the highlight of the menu. Burma Burma’s traditional coconut milk-based Khowsuey is wholesome yet sophisticated, simmered to perfection, featuring twenty ingredients and a choice of hakka, whole wheat, udon and rice noodles.
The dessert menu has been curated by celebrated pastry chef Vinesh Johny and offers picks like Rangoon Baked Milk made which is house-baked milk made with vanilla whipped ganache and raspberry gel, and also has fried brioche that adds a lot of nuance to its profile. We loved the delectably plated Zen which features hazelnut chocolate ganache and a dense dark chocolate quenelle along with a passionfruit gel. Hot tip: Burma Burma is known for their artisanal iced ieas and non-alcoholic coolers, and we recommend the Kombucha Elderflower and the smoked guava