ocated in a little side street on 31st January Road in Panjim town, Viva Panjim is a lovely little restaurant catering to the tourist crowd, Indians and Westerners alike. They pitch themselves as a family restaurant run from a heritage home according to the signboard on the street front.
Viva Panjim’s menu specialises in tasty Goan classics like Pork vindaloo and Prawn balchao. Although they do have standard Indian fare, a large percentage of their menu caters to fiery Goan pork and seafood dishes.
One of the attractions of eating at this restaurant is the few tables located in front of the restaurant on the side street itself. Surrounded by potted plants and ferns, the ambiance outside is in keeping with the laid-back atmosphere that is so characteristic in Goa. The downside, however, are the tons of mosquitoes outside which don’t seem to be scared off by the mosquito coils lit under each table. If you plan on dining at one of the tables outside, a spray of mosquito repellent will surely help.
Service at this restaurant was a bit slow; not sure if the crowded restaurant was the cause or slackness on the part of the servers. We had to wait a long time to be served; the service lacked friendliness and courtesy.
If you happen to sit at one of the tables outside, take a close look at the traditional Goan tiles that adorn the table tops.
Also known as “Azulejos”, tiling is one of Goa’s signature architectural styles. Hand painted and bright in colour, it is a technique that was first introduced by the Portuguese but which quickly adapted to become something of an entirely Goan characteristic. For it is in those tiny tiles that one continues to tell the stories of a community built centuries ago that somehow still captures all of the effortless charm of Goa today, despite its race to becoming the next cosmopolitan hub.
Our dinner for the evening consisted of two popular Goan dishes – Prawns in red masala fry & Kingfish in balchao – with Steamed basmati rice.
Prawns in red masala fry is a popular Goan prawn dish made with prawns and Indian spices. This dish is spicy, hot and tangy as it uses a lot of red chillies, garam masala and vinegar.
This dish was really lovely although the quantity was a bit small for a main meal. The prawns were cooked really well; they were firm and infused with the spicy, tangy red masala sauce which is quite spicy. The cucumber helps cool down the mouth.
Kingfish in balchao is another Goan seafood dish cooked in a popular Goan sauce called Balchao. The traditional balchao uses a paste made from dried shrimp. Balchao is a method of cooking either fish, prawns or pork in a spicy and tangy tomato-chili sauce. It resembles pickling and can be made days in advance without reheating. Balchao was introduced in India by Catholic Portuguese during colonization.
This dish had one cutlet of kingfish immersed in a balchao gravy. We haven’t eaten a lot of kingfish but we thought that this fish had a lot of flavour on its own. The balchao was excellent and went really well with the steamed basmati rice.
Steamed basmati rice is a great accompaniment to both the seafood dishes we ordered. The red masala fry and the balchao taste wonderful when eaten with fresh, steamy and fluffy basmati rice.
We really enjoyed dining at Viva Panjim as the ambiance at the tables in front of the restaurant was laid-back and very chilled. The food was delicious although the portions were a bit small. Nevertheless, the dishes were really good value and we will definitely return to Viva Panjim when we visit Goa again.