Goa is a state in western India with long coastlines stretching towards the Arabian Sea. Given its location, the state is popular for its beaches, nightlife, and contemporary culture. There is still more to the place, of course – it is a melting pot in terms of its cuisine, bringing Indian and Portuguese cultures together. Multitalented celebrity chef, author and TV personality, Sapna Anand is looking to reshape the way we view Indian cuisine with Goa by Sapna Anand, a collaborative effort with the SOUL Society Group, the people behind SOULed Out KL. Goa by Sapna Anand is located at The Ascott in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, just a stone’s throw away from KLCC.
The restaurant shares the same space as Tujo but has a completely different identity. While Tujo is more laidback and casual, Goa by Sapna Anand introduces you into the mind of the eponymous chef. The décor is colourful and vibrant, matching the many art pieces that adorn the walls.
Upon being introduced to the head chef herself, you can see much of Anand’s personality in the restaurant. Space is small, but its larger than life personality makes up for it. Her positivity generously uplifts the entire atmosphere as she goes through the menu on what her specialities are.
As you peruse through the menu, Anand highlights many dishes and regales the reader with a short story on what it means to her. A quick and thorough read through showcases the diversity Goa by Sapna Anand has in its repertoire. Its dishes feature eclectic flavours with plenty of spices, which characterises the region’s cuisine in a nutshell.
We start off the dinner with the Paneer Pea Cutlet as well as the Shredded Mutton Mantao. Both are small plates meant to be shared but you’re more than welcome to have them all to yourself. The paneer pea cutlet was coated with breadcrumbs and fried to a crispy golden brown while still providing plenty of bite and flavour. Each cutlet comes with a small helping of spiced hung yoghurt for an additional kick as the tamarind sauce ties it all together.
The shredded mutton mantao was another winner as the slow-cooked spiced mutton was soft and tender and packed a punch of flavour. It was topped up with a handful of fried shallots to provide a great crunch at the end of each bite.
Moving on from the starters, we make way to the main course. First up was the Malabar Mutton Curry, followed by the Goan Beef Vindalho, and ending with the Fish in Saffron Sauce. The last order was Anand’s very own recommendation as seafood is a big part of Goan cuisine. To go with its main course, we were served ghee rice and garlic naan to go along with the various curries.
The Malabar mutton curry was full of spice and everything nice while still maintaining its soft and tender texture. It comes with a side of plantain fritters, which adds a tinge of sweetness to the entire dish. The Goan beef vindalho was another signature of Anand’s, being savoury, spicy, and oh-so-tender on the palate.
The highlight of the entire meal goes to a simple fish with saffron sauce, which Anand describes: “My kids favourite meal, and you know how picky kids can be.”
The sea bass was slightly sweet with a very soft and buttery texture. The sauce, on the other hand, was what pulled the entire dish together. It was light and creamy and perfect with the ghee rice. To end the meal, we sampled some of the homemade ice cream, which includes flavours like mango, rose, and candied peanut. It was difficult to pick a favourite as all were excellent, making for a perfect ending to a great meal.
It’s hard to have a bad thing to say about Goa by Sapna Anand — everything from the décor to the atmosphere and even the food looks just like the type of restaurant you can find in Goa, India. Anand also deserves plenty of credit for creating a specialised and sumptuous menu. If this was just a small hint of what Goan cuisine is like, one can only wonder just how good it must be in its homeland.