Right off the bat, the cracker of an opener, Papadum with Peanuts & Moong Dhal Salsa (RM10) hints at what lies in store at GOA by Hubba. Heaped with the Goan-style salsa of diced tomatoes and onion, peanuts and lentils, the round, blistery discs of Indian crackers deliver a sampling of celebrity chef Sapna Anand's modern Indian delicacies.
Even the cocktail list features inventive spice-infused concoctions, a bid to evoke the ebullient spirit of Goa, Sapna’s home turf. I’m thoroughly smitten by the tastebud-tickling Rasam Shooter (tray of 6, RM38) — raveworthy shots of tequila, rasam mix, lime juice, mint syrup, tabasco, honey, pop rocks and salt.
Mama Manca (RM38) — a rockin’ blend of lemon juice, ginger syrup, turmeric syrup & a dash of cayenne pepper is a riotous slew of warm, robust flavours. Other bona fide faves include flavoured martinis and mojito variants.
Mumbai’s famous Chowpatty Beach with its profusion of beachside snacks is the inspiration behind the faintly smoky-sweet Chowpatty Fire Roasted Corn (RM16). Daubs of herbed cheese dip spiked with chilli lime salt amp up the appeal of those slightly charred corn cob.
Pillow-soft Chinese steamed buns form a sensuous alliance with shredded, slow-cooked spiced mutton, fried shallot & coriander to create the distinctive Mutton Floss Mantou (RM26). The Vegetarian Mantou (RM20) isn’t shabby either as the tasty spiced cauliflower, pepper, caramelised onion and coriander in similar buns grab its fair share of gustatory interest.
Hot on the heels come toothsome Goan Stuffed Squid (RM28) in which whole grilled squid, stuffed with minced prawn in housemade Goan spice paste, jostle for equal attention.
Presented at the tableside with blazing fanfare, the Grilled Cauliflower with Smoked Sauce (RM28) is a literal conversation-stopper. Once the server singes the mound of cauliflower, a tide of lush savouriness and fresh green sweetness floods our palate thanks to the mildly smoked fennel tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan on top.
The sensorial overload continues when we sample the Kashmiri Lamb Chops (RM95).
Redolent with the deep-seated accents of Goa’s housemade spice blend, the meaty cutlets are delectable when smeared with mint chutney.
When the Garlic Butter Prawns (RM58) reach our table, the offering seems a tad underwhelming although we can’t fault the freshwater prawns in creamy garlic butter sauce. Surprisingly, the Stir-fried Bhindi (RM20) holds its own possibly because the jumble of crispy okra, chickpeas, onion, dried chilli and spices proffer more distinct textural variations.
The complexities of Indian spice blends can never be underestimated, requiring years of practice and in-depth knowledge to master. All we know is the Goan favourite of Beef Vindhalho (RM28) requires yet another multitude of traditional Vindhalho spices to spark off the dish’s cachet of big, stimulating flavours.
Likewise, an aromatic and punchy tandoori spice marinade left a deeply nuanced imprint in the Tandoori Chicken Chop (RM33). Served with mint chutney, every mouthful of the tender chook sets our tongues a-tingling with subtle hotness and zingy spiciness.
Our meal epilogue centres on Homemade Ice Cream (RM16) which runs the gamut from mango or rose to candied peanut & caramel. Top of the picks goes to the sweetly scented Rose Ice Cream. The Candied Peanut & Caramel is decent too although its allure pales slightly in comparison once you savour the floral flavour.
For reservations, call GOA by Hubba, tel: 017-786 7611. Address: 9, Ascott Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur. Open daily from 6pm to 1am.