Shillong is a hub with Northeast tribes amalgamating to unite in culture and more, bringing in the eight sister states together into this melting pot. Though home to the Khasis, over the years it is now home to many more tribes and this living in harmony gives us more opportunity to learn about one another and know of the authentic ways of the Northeastern region.
So for the lucky people in Shillong who want to sample some delicious preparations exclusive to Manipur, a visit to Phunga will do. It is located opposite Yalana Hotel, Main Road, Laitumkhrah. The restaurant was launched in May 2015 though very few knew of its existence because of its size. They re-opened one year later in a much bigger space.
Phunga means ‘fireplace’ in the kitchen area for cooking as well as a gathering place for family to talk and pass time leisurely. And they have ensured that the place is welcoming and homely with a fireplace, albeit without the fire. From seating arrangements, décor and food plating, it all exudes a sense of a home with a tad bit of over-doing the bamboo and woodwork all around. Seating arrangements are spread out across three rooms and a balcony seating at the entrance of the restaurant. One can choose to sit on a high table dining area or low where one can sit with legs folded in yoga form and enjoy their meals in an authentic way or even choose to sit on Khasi murrahs (stool) on a low table.
Cane products are displayed at every nook at corner of the restaurant with artistic paintings and photographs spread out across the rooms. Though it’s a Manipuri restaurant, one can see a lot of Khasi culture involved in the décor, like Knups and pictures of Khasi culture and tradition proving once again about Shillong being the melting pot that embedded itself in the way of lives of everyone living here.
Well lit rooms with ample space between tables ensure that you and your friends don’t feel overcrowded.
The Menu consist of a variety of dishes – Chinese, Khasi and dominantly Manipuri. We recommend the Manipuri veg or non-veg Thalis (Fish/ Chicken /Duck). Manipuri indigenous mushroom items, Singju (Salad snack) and the Manipuri smoked fish are other standalone dishes worth trying.
They have unique food preparations, each using the same ingredients in different ways, which we were told is the soul of Manipuri cooking. The ideology behind it of course believes in making optimal use of all ingredients.
Ratings according to 5 people who visited the place. (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest)
If you’re adventurous and crave for new flavours, this place will be apt for you.
If you have never tried Manipuri food, we recommend you visit.
And finally, if you just want some good, wholesome food…go!
(By Nocy Rangsa Marak)