CTExclusive: Colaba Gets 1st Araku Restaurant And India’s 1st Ever Regen Dining Space; Preview

I went for an exclusive preview of Araku Mumbai — the restaurant with pretty aesthetics and thoughtful food. Review below

by Rachna Srivastava
CTExclusive: Colaba Gets 1st Araku Restaurant And India’s 1st Ever Regen Dining Space; Preview

All is sunny in Colaba! Or (now with this restaurant) shall I say, all is Araku at the Sunny House in the by-lanes of Colaba?! The much-loved specialty coffee brand that’s put coffee sourced from the Eastern Ghats of India on a global map, Araku is opening its first-ever restaurant in Mumbai. And, I went for an exclusive preview of it to soak in the vibe and savour the food and coffee (of course). So, how did it go? Read on.

Araku Restaurant Opens At Colaba’s Iconic Sunny House 


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Sharing a wall with Nappa Dori, Araku is occupying 2800 sq. ft of space on the ground floor of Sunny House. It’s two levels of sheer aesthetics that will make you want to spend your afternoons and evenings tucked in a book in the nook or get all chatty with your gang with some great coffee or food, of course. 

Now, Sunny House itself is something that piques the interests of Mumbaikars and art lovers. Side note: It is the iconic building built in 1897 by the Nawab of Surat. Before the Taj Mahal Palace was erected in front of it, it used to be the building overlooking the Arabian Sea, offering sweeping views of the vastness that lay beyond the land. Now, it is popularly deemed as ‘behind the Taj’ when anyone is to ask for directions.

Araku Exterior Sunny House Colaba
Araku Restaurant is on the ground floor of Sunny House, Colaba Image Courtesy: Supplied

Coming back to the space, the entrance is a stunner. Think minimalistic, white doors with cute signage that is part of the brand identity now. Set foot inside and be greeted by high ceilings, arched windows, and white-walled interiors with exquisite art donning the walls. 

Araku Restaurant entrance
Ground floor of Araku restaurant
Image Courtesy: Supplied

On your right is Araku’s signature Modbar. And, the wall behind it houses coffee equipment, coffee blends and accessories that the brand offers. If you like something, you can certainly go online and place the order. With the open concept, you get the chance to see how your coffee is brewed (only the final stage) and speak to the baristas.

55-Seater Space Has High Aesthetics Quotient

The 55-seater space has been designed by New York-based architect Jorge Zapata. And, the artistry adorning it is certainly giving off a very classy, pleasing and welcoming vibe. Normally, when you enter a restaurant, you wait till you are seated to look around and up. But I can bet on this, that as soon as you enter you are bound to look up, And when you do, you will see bamboo chandeliers worth admiring. Designed by Sandeep Sanguru, a Bangalore-based designer, these bamboo beauties are crafted by artisans from North East India.

Araku windows and seating
Do look up!
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Another very interesting artwork you will see is the 3D map of Araku Valley, Eastern Ghats. The terroir map has colour-coded 3D depiction of the region where tribal farmers grow coffee in over 60,000 small coffee estates. Not just the coffee (100% Arabica), but the farmers also grow pepper, millets, fruits, and other staples which now find a place in the kitchen at Araku restaurant. 

Terroir of Araku
3D terroir of Araku Valley
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Walk around a bit and you will chance upon a nook that’s for books. The titles are curated by co-founder Manoj Kumar and can be purchased from here. The Bangalore Araku cafe has a larger library or book nook, but given the space constraints of Mumbai, the cute corner might be small, but certainly adds to the charm of the place. 

The upper level is equipped with an open bar on one side and a see-through glass unit on the other that lets you peek into the kitchen and see the action (and chaos) live! Once the liquor licence is in place, they would also start with cocktails and even biodynamic wines.

Oh, and come 2024, they will have more bakes, confections, pastries, and more baked goods under their bakery programme that the brand will lend from their Bangalore cafe! 

What Is The Concept Of Araku Restaurant? 

Upstairs bar area
Upper level of Araku Restaurant
Image Courtesy: Supplied

While Bangaloreans are enjoying a cafe vibe, Mumbaikars will get Araku restaurant, a sit-down place with a gourmet menu backed by sustainability and a zero-waste philosophy. It is deemed to be India’s first regenerative agriculture-based restaurant.

“Fittingly, regen dining’s gateway to Mumbai would be through the Gateway of India, a thriving cultural, historical hub. Regenerative Farms are at the top of the ecological sustainability pyramid. Microbial biome-led ecosystems are created in these farms to optimise nutritional intake for plants and create a regenerative environment from the soil to the gut of the consumer. This is the pinnacle of what Food can ever be,” says Mr Manoj Kumar,  Co-founder, Araku & CEO Naandi Foundation (a foundation at which Anand Mahindra is on the board).

But What Is Regen Dining? 

Chef Rahul Sharma and Aditi Dugar
Chef Rahul Sharma and Aditi Dugar of Araku
Image Courtesy: Supplied

According to the Future Food Institute, “Regenerative kitchens seek to turn back the damage industrial farming and food production is known to cause. They use ingredients from sustainable sources such as producers using farming methods that create a net-zero impact. This pursuit means exclusively using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, opting for meat alternatives, or refusing to use any products produced using intensive farming methods.”

And, that is the backbone of Araku restaurant. Aditi Dugar (first Indian female restaurateur on #Asias50Best list) is the Chief Brand Advisor at Araku. You love her for Masque, TwentySeven Bakehouse, SEESAW Cafe and more ventures. And, you will certainly love what she and her team have set out to do at Araku. 

She quips, “The next food frontier is ‘regen dining’. Regen agriculture goes beyond sustainability, in that it leaves the soil richer than when you began.  The restaurant seeks to inspire rather than preach, show rather than tell. It does this with simple, everyday ingredients that you and I find at the markets.  The goal is to make regenerative agriculture more mainstream, and that’s only possible when more people are made curious to adopt it.”

welcome drink and turkish latte
Welcome drink and Turkish Latte
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Meet The Chef!

The man holding it all together and bringing the vision and philosophy to the plates is Chef Rahul Sharma. In his kitchen, you will only find local and organic produce. And, that too there is absolutely no wastage. The ingredients are used in various ways and even the bread and the peels of veggies are put to use and presented in the form of a part of the dish.

He says, “It’s only once you start digging deep, and questioning traceability of ingredients that you discover the challenges of working with even artisanal producers. With the constraints, imagination kicks in, and so we find ways to add new depths to flavours – like pickled peppercorn, koji curing our meats or lacto green chilli.” 

And to back it all up is the willingness to dig even deeper with the flavours, innovation and working with home-styled kitchen ingredients readily available but sustainably sourced.

Also Read: New In Bengaluru: Araku’s First Cafe In India Is Much More Than A Coffee Shop

What Did I Try?

  • Araku Garlic Thecha Ciabatta Bread
  • Pickled tomato and cheese salad
  • Beetroot brûlée
  • Kidney Bean Aioli
  • Sepia Risotto
  • Sheep sausage
  • Beeswax Ice Cream 
  • Rhubarb & Cream Cake

What Did I Think Of The Food?

After their welcome drink, I snuck a Turkish Latte before digging into the food. I must say, the latte was yum. There’s a reason why Araku coffee has a street cred (globally). First, I tried Araku Garlic Thecha Ciabatta Bread served with Philly-style cheese and green pepper in floral honey. The Chef explained we cannot call it Philadelphia cheese because it does not come from that region. But it certainly serves as an inspiration for it. The cheese was really good and the bread too. 

Araku Thecha And Tomato and Cheese Salad
Araku Thecha And Tomato and Cheese Salad
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Next up was the Pickled tomato and cheese salad which had charred tomato with chili butter, fresh cream cheese and garlic chive oil. The tomatoes were done three ways and the overall palate was garlic-dominant. The cream cheese added depth to the flavours.

Up next was Beetroot brûlée, which was very impressive. The way the chef used beetroot three ways was lovely. There was beet custard, pickled beets, and beet chips made from trimmings. The pairing was really good. The custard especially was too good. It is served chilled (with ice) so that the custard stays cold. The chips need a special mention here. 

Beetroot Brulee and Kidney bean aioli
Beetroot Brulee and Kidney Bean Aioli
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Moving on to Kidney Bean Aioli, the aioli itself (a type of cold sauce) was good. It was topped with charred kidney beans and seasonal root vegetables. The root vegetables were seasoned well and it is a great way to have root veggies on the plate. Needless to say, the dish is protein and fibre rich. A bowl of it is just what you need to get your day’s nutrition right. I quite liked it. 

The next item on the course savoured was Sepia Risotto which is a dish made with Kalanamak rice cooked with squid ink, roasted chili, pickled lemon and spring onion, topped with a smoked, runny yolk. Okay, this is not for everyone’s liking. But I really liked it. Squid ink (harvested from a dead squid and is a by-product of the fishery product processing industry) is an acquired taste and those who like it will like it. The aromatic rice from Terai region, Kalanamak rice, is a traditional variety of paddy that is known for its black husk. It was chewy and I liked the squid ink with it. The rice is said to be packed with antioxidants and nutrients like zinc and iron.

Sepia Risotto and Sheep Sausage
Sepia Risotto and Sheep Sausage
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Then, I tucked into the Sheep sausage sausage with fragrant fried Araku green peppercorn leaves, served with pickled green pepper aioli. Oh, it was heavenly. The lamb was seasoned well, toothsome and I did like the pickled aioli. I removed the cucumber and tasted the dish. But even without that, it tasted like a complete dish to me. Whoever loves to savour a well-done lamb will certainly like this succulent piece on their plate. 

After a brief break, it was time for the desserts. And, boy, the Rhubarb & Cream Cake was nice. But, it is the Beeswax Ice Cream for me. The peppered cake was just too good on its own. I hope that it becomes a menu regular too. 

Beeswax Ice Cream and Rhubarb and Cream Cake
Beeswax Ice Cream and Rhubarb and Cream Cake
Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava

Overall, the menu is divided into Lunch & Dinner, Snacks, Desserts, Coffee and Cocktails. It has a good mix of vegetarian, non-vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, and other dietary preferences all grouped in one menu. 

So, Should You Go Or Not? 

Of course! Three words I would use to describe the whole experience would be fresh, thoughtful and healthy. The reason I say healthy is because the amount of nutrition in each ingredient/dish is what a healthy meal should comprise. 

I am really into the vibe of the whole place more than the food. I see myself going out on coffee dates here in the afternoons and chilling in a nook with a book! 

Araku restaurant opens on Dec 13, 2023; Reservations are recommended.

Where: No. 1, Sunny House, Mandlik Road Behind Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai
When:  12 pm to 3.30 pm (lunch); 7 pm to 1 am (dinner; last order 10.30 pm); Mondays closed
Cost: ₹2400 for two without alcohol; ₹3500 for two with alcohol

For Reservations, call on +91 7337205222 or Email on restaurant@arakuoriginals.com 

Also Read: 22 New Restaurants In Mumbai You Have To Try This Month

The editor was invited for an experience by Team Araku

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Cover Image Courtesy: Rachna Srivastava and Supplied