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Monday, March 08, 2021

Beyond Burritos

A new Mexican restaurant in the city is offering a riot of tastebud-tingling flavours

Written by Shantanu David | New Delhi |
November 2, 2014 12:50:09 am
Al Pastor Taco; interiors of the restaurant (Source: Express photo by Amit Mehra) Al Pastor Taco; interiors of the restaurant (Source: Express photo by Amit Mehra)

A short flight of stairs leads one into La Bodega, the new Mexican kid in Khan Market. Here, in a sort of reverse-demographic, the space is dominated by whites, split into a warm intimate, lower dining area and a large upper area which opens out to an airy terrace, one that is sun-drenched during the days, and fairy-lit at night.

The menu has more accents on it than an episode of Breaking Bad, bifurcated into a street food and mains section. The former, called antojito (“little cravings” in the native Spanish) comprise a selection of taquitos, quesadillas  and tostadas while the latter consist sopas (soups), tortas (sandwiches) and traditional Mexican main dishes. Though there are some vegetarian options, meat dominates this particular food chain in a palatable pageantry of flocks, herds, schools and troupes.

We first head to the street, ordering an Arrachera Taquito and the Camaron Salteado Tostada. The taquito is essentially a soft tortilla roll-up crammed with charred but tender beef enmeshed with some prismatic peppers and served with chiles toreados, which are roasted and marinated chilis and onions. The whole mishmash gives the dish an extra, welcome kick. The tostadas come in a pair, deep-fried tortilla piled high with shredded succulent shrimp splashed with tangy salsa and a fiery chipotle, which leads to a delicious if messy mélange of flavours. Both the dishes are served with lime wedges, a couple of squeezes of which bind together all the elements almost alchemically.
Having restrained ourselves till now, by our standards anyway, we decide, predictably, to make pigs of ourselves, ordering the Cubano Torta and the Cochinita Pibil, which we can’t pronounce but can point at with great urgency. This is the Mexican variant of the Cuban sandwich (created by the immigrant population in Florida in the weirdly wonderful homogenous nature of cuisine), which has enjoyed great endorsement from movies and shows such as Chef and Miami Vice respectively, not to mention Dexter, and we can’t wait to see what the fuss is about. After digging into warm, crusty bread layered with sliced ham, marinated pork, crunchy pickles and a very serious mustard, we can see ourselves doing this again and again and again.

The pibil is more restrained, slow-cooked pork furnished with a paste of achiote (a shrub with edible seeds, which apart from their culinary use, have been used in countless matrimonial tropes in this country given that they’re the source of vermillion) and served with marinated pineapple, refried beans and soft tortillas. The dish comes smoking to the table, melting in the mouth with an earthy undertone. To be honest, we expected this dish to be more sumptuous than somber, but this is the one crumpled rose leaf from the bouquet.

Resembling pibil ourselves now, we blearily go through the dessert menu, deciding to stick to the classics: Churros con Chocolate and Pastel de Tres Leches (cake made from three milks and served with chantilly cream). The churros are crisp and finger-sized and, mercifully, not cloying, deriving their sweetness from a chocolate sauce darker than sin. Conversely, the tres leches is delicate, almost ephemeral, cloud-like cake floating in a vanilla sauce with notes of cinnamon.

Meal for two: Rs. 1500
(including taxes, excluding alcohol)
Address: 29 B, Middle Lane,
Khan Market Contact: 43105777

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