aRoqa New York | Unveil The Engagement Between Indian Spices And Spirits

This unique name aRoqa is derived from the word roqa (roka), which means an engagement celebration in India. You can join the festivities for a perfect marriage of mixologist’s drinks at the bar with a unique combination of small plates infused by Indian spices from Chef Gaurav Anand who is also the owner of this fine restaurant and cocktail bar.

aRoqa Interior | Photography Evan Sung

As you enter aRoqa you are seduced by the mysterious and elegant atmosphere of black combined with gold interior elements that makes you desire to stay at least for one drink. The bar offers amazing signature cocktails such as “On a Whim”, “Third Eye” or “Season of Luck”.

The interior design is contemporary and has a sophisticated feel. The golden finishes that appear throughout the room definitely reflect the luxury of the party with light fixtures reminiscent of the 50s modernism, bringing about a unique coziness and charm.

We requested a glass of sparkling vino to warm up our appetite, then by studying the menus and discovering quite a variety of small dishes we decided to ask for guidance on wine suggestions to help us pair the wines with the right palettes of spices. The perfectly suggested blanc de blancs complimented the dishes we chose beautifully.

Kurkuri Bhel | Photography By Evan Sung

As we started our tasting journey we were pleasantly surprised by Kurkuri Bhel, lotus stems, avocado, tomatillo-green chili emulsion, tamarind chutney. Very filling and fresh ingredients make this vegan dish probably the healthiest and tastiest appetizer I have ever had. Next we tried Corn Paddu that arrived in a basket of bicycle carriage, rich and full of flavor, finished off with gunpowder masala.

Corn Paddu | Photography Evan Sung

Then there was a plate that came out with a little something you had to participate in as if it were a ceremony of a kind. Not that the chicken was already not tender enough, but you could also squeeze habanero aioli inside it to create your own perfection, not to mention that you just took a part in this entertaining process.

For our next few plates we were amazed by the softness of shrimp, chicken and duck. The chicken already melted by a touch of the knife much before it had a chance to do so in my mouth. Starting from the presentation of firing up the plate of Bhatti Mugh Ki Champ to the tenderness and smokiness of the chicken was an experience. As the Chef Gaurav Anand has described the dish, “You can go now into this New York City weather and feel all the spices that chicken was exposed to.” It made me feel so cozy right away thinking of cold winter nights in Manhattan.

Bhatti Mugh Ki Champ | Photography By Evan Sung

I noticed a similar smoked flavor in other dishes like Kasundi Prawns and aRoqa duck Leg Confit. I cannot say enough of how tasty those flavors were when you taste the smokiness right to the bone! Moreover we found out the secret to those recipes from the Chef himself, a simple charcoal is able to work that magic on your meats.

I had to leave my strangely favorite dish to the end and by that I mean it may only be favored by a few, so it was something special. You see I love mushrooms and in most places you go to, you taste some mushroom flavor as part of a garnish to your main course. However, this rule doesn’t apply to Katafi Mushrooms. It reminds me of Mediterranean sweets as it looks, the only difference is that you have this amazing blend of three mushrooms wrapped inside a savory pastry. In this case, there cannot be mistaking that you are having mushrooms. I have never tasted such an interesting blend being packed like little sausages, tied up by hundreds of tiny pastry threads with a touch of pickled red onion to dilute the richness of the fusion.

Katafi Mushrooms | Photography Evan sung

Overall experience starting from a shaved lime in your water that makes it easier to squeeze, to dishes served on little bicycles and trucks, to the golden wavy ceiling that surfs you through a variety of small dishes into a fine spiciness of food intermix, I would say it is definitely set for keen eaters.

Daulat Ki Chaat | Photography By Evan Sung

When I heard that the owner’s mind is in the front of the restaurant and his heart is in the kitchen, I figured it was a perfect aRoqa spot, the perfect engagement.