Named after Mount Popa -- an extinct volcano with rich mythical history in central Myanmar (formerly Burma) -- this new spot nestled within the shops at Bayview Village introduces Burmese cuisine to Toronto as we've never seen it before. Pōpa opened its doors in January 2020 by the owner and chef Hemant Bhagwani and partner Trevor Lui.
Just down the hall from Bhagwani's Indian restaurant Goa, Pōpa feels right at home within the bright and bustling atmosphere in Bayview Village. A perfect place for patrons to be warmly welcomed with professional service by knowledgeable and hospitable staff.
Greenery surrounds the walls, tables and walkways keeping the vibe airy and tropical without being overbearing. The warm and minimalist interior is contrasted by the complex flavors of the dishes, giving guests a completely unique experience of Burmese culture not typically found in Toronto.
As a trained sommelier, Bhagwani wanted to break the standards of how guests typically order wine by adding blends instead of single varietals to a small and concise wine list -- complementing the diverse flavours of the food. Everything on the menu is priced by the ounce to allow for pairings with each course.
The cocktail menu, designed by Lui, pays homage to classic drinks from 1920's Myanmar with the Pegu Club ($12), blending London dry gin with curaçao, fresh lime and bitters.
The list also includes unique mocktails like The Halle Berries ($7), which mixes muddled blueberries, longan honey syrup, lemon juice, soda water and basil for an easily crushable and light way to kick start the meal.
Drawing inspiration from a Burmese restaurant in India and street food found in Myanmar during his travels, Bhagwani aimed to capture the essence of essential dishes eaten by locals, wanting to make sure Toronto didn't miss out on the experience of these specialized flavors.
Fusing Burmese, Balinese and Macanese cultures, the menu at Pōpa keeps the main Burmese food staples of tea leaves and chickpeas, while adding elements of Chinese noodles and Indian soups.
A welcome addition to the halls of Bayview Village, Pōpa stands out amongst the crowd with a refreshing take on a new style of food that everyone should be lining up to try.