Set inside a restored Goan house, all roads lead to SEA in Assagao. After a massive lunch of seafood and stew, we’re sure it’s one of those rare restaurants that isn’t just a looker but a star when it comes to the food and bar menu.
When we walked in, we knew that we could expect nothing but the best, coming from serial restaurateur, Saurabh Anand, who runs the hugely successful Moti Mahal, Awadh, Bhatti Indian Grill in NYC and Masala House in Dilli. And sure enough, that’s exactly what was laid out on the table.
We’re head over heels over how effortlessly chic SEA looks. It’s got a tastefully done-up balcao with shell chandeliers and no-fuss wooden furniture with teal green and white interiors bathed in soft lighting. In retrospect, it strikes us as a spot where we’d love to take our date but would also work perfectly to hang with our groupies who devour seafood.
The menu is a thoughtful take on Southeast Asian staples alongside a helping of Indian coastal delicacies that come close to the heart. So, whether you’ve got an experimental palate that loves a classic stir fry in Asian spices (Mushrooms with Bok Choy is love) or the good ol’ Prawn Thoran, you won’t go home dejected. We have a special place in our hearts for their small sharing plates that include a phenomenal Onion Paniyaram (hello, vegetarians, you got lots of choice here), Lotus Stem Tamarind Chilli & Ghee Roast Black Pepper Mutton. For the mains, we went basic with veg stew and appams and even on a full stomach, we polished it off (#TeamZeroRegrets). The carnivore testified that the Stir Fried Lobster with Ginger & Black Mushrooms was otherworldly.
In sync with the casual chic vibe of the place, the whole menu is designed with a dreamy watercolour effect and is a testament that SEA’s consciously focused on the smaller nuances. Once we got past the dreaminess, it took us a while to decide which of SEA’s signature cocktails we’d like. The ingredients for these are either locally-sourced (from our beloved Mapusa Friday market or from the mixologist’s own backyard) or those that are specially imported to recreate authentic flavours from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand and really, it’s no surprise that the drinks are as good as art. Hell, they even make their own flower-infused gin, homemade beetroot wine, smoked paprika cordial and other mixes.
The zany, award-winning mixing lady at SEA, Evgenya, has creatively crafted cocktails that use Dragon Fruit, Sichuan, Wild Hibiscus and other such botanicals that are native to Southeast Asia. We’ve also been warned that their sangria sharing pitcher is a total winner, so we’re heading there for a lazy drunch next time. For now, our favourites include: Vitamin Sea, Island Spritzer, Beet Me Up and S.E.A. Blues.
As we still recover from all this beauty and food coma, we suggest you book yourself a table. Thank God, they’re open through the year for lunch and dinner! Bon Appetit!