It was my second visit to Casa Sarita and I was really looking forward to the Goan meal akin to the one we cook at home. Chicken Xacuti, Prawn curry, Pork Vindaloo, red rice et al. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. Chef Vaz had beautifully amalgamated authentic flavours with minimalistic presentations and in a way redefined fine-dining. He had created a contemporary menu with time-honoured Goan culinary traditions. We thus embarked upon a new Goan culinary journey.
I was a little skeptical and even voiced my fears to the Chef. Would the traditional Goans accept this avant garde treatment to their sacred cuisine? Would foreign tourists really understand what the real Goan cuisine is? With these thoughts in mind, I surrendered to the new culinary experience.
Thomas Abraham, General Manager, Park Hyatt Goa, put things in perspective. “Goan cuisine tells a story that is steeped in history. There is tradition and emotion attached to every dish; we didn’t want to take away from that. What we offer our guests is still a medley of the piquant flavours associated with Goan cuisine, yet presented with creativity and innovation.” I bought that.
Chef Edridge Vaz’s modern interpretation of traditional dishes left me spellbound. Prawn and coriander soup with black pepper was served so artistically. Made me want to try it more than ever. Quail cafreal with sweet potato bhaji and tamarind glazed shallot. Sounded unique. With trepidation we tried it. It was mind blowing or shall I say palate blowing? Scallop jere mere, mango and chilli sauce, cabbage and coconut salad roll. The surprise element of the meal continued. My favourite fish curry rice too came in a new avatar. Sea bass fillet in acrid lemon berry curry and Goan rice. It was a treat for the eyes first and then all the other senses. All the original flavours and ingredients had been retained. Only its presentation was more attractive now. Crispy pork belly with vindalho jam and rawa sanna, I though was a delightful way to present this good ‘ol dish. But the best was yet to come. The traditional alle belle was deconstructed to an alle belle parfait with semi dried coconut and jaggery sauce. Chef Nelson Fernandes, Pastry Chef, had clearly won my heart as normally I do not even touch Goan desserts. And this one was a treat par excellence – a perfect conclusion to the repast.
Casa Sarita is the signature fine-dining restaurant at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. The restaurant is reminiscent of a bygone era, offering guests an experience that reflects the delicate blend of Indian and Portuguese influences. It has remained true to its promise and yet delivered a meal which has put Goan cuisine on the international map in presentation too. Kudos to Chef Vaz, Chef Tanuja Kerker and their team.