The Mayans and Aztecs have descended at Asiad Village Complex and what they are saying is Arriba.

Words and photographs: Ambica Gulati

From the makers of The Hungry Monkey and TabulaBeach Cafe 2.0 comes Arriba. And this is an exclamation of pleasure which I also used after eating the fabulous grills and drinking the famous margaritas. The young man who handles the kitchen, Chef Noah Barnes, is one enthusiastic host. He can make you eat all the spices with all the right flavours and complement them with the right cocktails. The bright reds, yellows, azure and Aztecs patterns also make you feel welcome. There is space to sit outside among the plants as well, but the gives the feel of a cozy Mayan hut.

What greets you on the table is a big bottle of tequila. And what you can eat with it—nachos with five different kinds of salsas, some hot, some sweet and some hot and sweet. Chef Barnes enlightened that the chillies come from Mexico and among them is the one of hottest in the world—habanero. So there was mango with bits of these and it was quite a fire on the tongue but simple irresistible, if a salsa could be that.

p_20160927_205310So while the Chef moved between the kitchens of TabulaBeach and Arriba, we dug into some Arriba Speciale Guacomole, Stuffed Spiced Jalapenos with Goatcheese Mousse, Tequila Infused Prawn Plancha, Mexican Charred Morita Chilli Chicken Skewers, and more. Finally, our stomach was bursting and there was still the main course to go. We opted for Sweet Corn, Cheddar, Spinach Enchilladas. The mainstay of this food was that nothing seemed heavy. Everything seemed to go in smoothly, despite the fact that we tasted over 10 dishes. Maybe it was the habanero speeding up our metabolism or maybe just the margaritas helped.

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So we had Cinnamon Tamarind Margarita, Tequila Tea Time cocktail but the best was Heaven on Earth—I guess the peaceful violet colour, thanx to the lavender, did give it that heavenly twist. And the meal ended with Jalapeno infused Tequila shot and deadly Churros with Duo Chocolate Chip, the chilli one comes with a pirates flag! But you can’t walk out without eating this.

Now we were truly done and curious to know how the Chef had crafted this interesting menu. Chef Barnes loves experimenting and he interned at the Embassy of Mexico for a month before preparing the menu. And then he invited the officials over along with the Ambassador of Mexico to India and asked them to try the cuisine. And the verdict was that it was like being in Mexico! The challenge he says was in the fact that there is a very fine line between Mexican and Indian cuisine and he had to maintain that, yet keep the Indian customer happy. On higher price point, the Chef points out that original ingredients come all the way from Mexico, which are expensive, but that maintains the quality.

He has plans to make some changes and for getting a better taste and flavour of the cuisine, he is going backpacking to the far-off country in January-February 2017. He will be staying with some natives to know exactly how people eat at home, besides checking the fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants. And we look forward to what this young one brings back to us in Delhi.

What you will find
Mexican street favourites, hot and cold starters, Ceviches, popular tex–mex dishes, mains from the grills

p_20160927_221301What is tequila?
Extracted from the special Blue Agave, grown in the region around Tequila, Mexico, this spirit is clear and fragrant. It can be enjoyed on the rocks, blended with fruit and ice into margaritas or slammed as shots with salt and wedges of lime. Arriba houses a collection of Blanco, Reposado and Añejo Tequilas and large collection of margaritas.