Popa is Toronto's source for Burmese fusion cuisine, taking its name from a sacred inactive volcano.
Colonial trade routes brought Indian, Portuguese and Chinese travellers along with ingredients like tamarind and coconut milk through Burma, Bali and Macau. These areas inspire this restaurant's menu of salads, soups, noodles, curries and flatbreads.
Located in Bayview Village mall, the restaurant is open to the larger space but still has a separated, upscale feel.
Steamed Lamb Leg Bao are $10.50 for an order of two. Tender, flavourful roast honey lamb leg has been marinated for 48 hours and then grilled twice, served in a fluffy steamed bun with typical cucumber, coriander, hoisin and sriracha.
Shan Tofu ($12.75) is named for its place of origin, a type of vegan polenta-like house tofu made from chickpeas and served with a tamarind ginger dressing.
Pyaa Jo Kyaw ($12.75) is essentially a Burmese fried falafel, but made of lentils, spices, onion and coriander, tossed in an addictive sweet and sticky brown garlic sauce.
A Kyaw Sone ($12.75) is traditionally an assortment of fritters, interpreted here as a tempura basket of lightly battered eggplant, onion, cauliflower and spinach served with a tangy homemade tartar and tamarind sauce topped with citrus zest.
A Tea Leaf Salad ($13.25) is a take on national salad laphet thoke, made with fermented tea leaves, tomato, romaine, fried yellow beans, fried garlic, sesame seeds, jalapeno, sunflower seeds, crushed peanuts and dried shrimp.
Burmese Style Chicken Salad ($13.75) is a spicy, acidic and crunchy salad of minced chicken, romaine, shredded cabbage, lime, basil and jalapeno.
Nan Gyi Thoke ($18.75) or khow suey is quite simialar to khao soi, a chicken curry hand-tossed noodle salad topped with a hard-boiled duck egg and crispy noodles, served with DIY garnishes of peanut, cilantro, crispy lentils, onion, chili flakes and garlic flakes.
Vegetarian Noodles ($15) are Chinese wheat noodles with potatoes, garlic, wonton, tamarind, sriracha, red onion, cucumber, cabbage, cilantro, chili and lime, served room temperature but with an intense creeping spice level.
Mango Pickled Lamb ($19.25) is a curry of lamb leg marinated in and also topped with mango chutney, served with jasmine rice.
The Pasteis de Nata ($8.25) for dessert here are a hybrid of Chinese and Portuguese egg tarts with a flaky layered pastry and creamy egg custard, bruleed on top.
Crazy Rich Asians ($13) combines seasonal muddled red fruit, lemon juice, house lemongrass syrup and pisco, topped off with Cremant d'Alsace.
Popa works with a tea sommelier from Tea Squared to incorporate the element of tea central to Burmese cuisine.