The rare regional Indian food of Viva Goa
Lombard Street in San Francisco is no longer a mere thoroughfare: The phenomenal new Indian restaurant Viva Goa has seen to that.
Owners Nicholas Fernandes and Joseph Alvares have fulfilled an unshakable dream, opening what is almost certainly the Bay Area's only Goan restaurant.
A veteran of the five-star resort, Taj Holiday Village, in Goa, chef Trizon Rebello has a fearlessly steady hand with the sparkling flavors of the region's coastal cuisine.
The southwestern Indian state is famous for its use of fish and coconut, two ingredients that stream through the menu. Mackerel cutlets ($6) are blasted with green chile and garlic, then coated in semolina and pan-fried. Braised along with a paste of dried coconut, coriander seed, dried chile and tamarind, a sea bass curry ($12) features delicate fish and a sauce that's both soft as a newborn's cheek and incendiary as a barfly at 1:58 a.m.
Vindaloo ($11, pictured)--that stateside emblem of Goan cuisine--is prepared with your choice of meat. Pick pork, as it's a vestige of the region's Portuguese influence and an ideal medium for the dish's vinegar wallop.
The parade of distinctive dishes continues with lamb xacuti ($11), swathed in white poppy seeds and nutmeg, and chicken cafreal ($12), spiked with cilantro and mint.
Even Rebello's desserts, including orange kulfi served in the citrus's shell, are worth a pit stop.
Viva Goa, 2420 Lombard St. (at Scott St.); 415-440-2600 or vivagoaindiancuisine.com
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