Any minute now the mariachi band will break into song, strains of a vihuela and guitarrón filling the air as Sanchez takes you back to the bustling streets of Mexico. Well almost. This new restaurant’s authentic Mexican ingredients — achiote (annatto), masa, tomatillo, nopales, horchata, ancho chilli, cotija and chorizo are from the heart of the country. And its wonderfully replete menu is what chef and culinary director Vikas Seth, of Embassy Leisure and Entertainment Projects LLP (Embassy Group) has penned as a note to each foodie. Nice touch, that.
Most Indian restaurants have not even scraped the first layer of this flavour-imbuing cuisine. Till Chef Vikas Seth, decided to tip his sombrero to authentic Mexican. Seth donned a jorongo (poncho) and walked the streets of Mexico City and Oaxaca, Molcajete and notepad in hand to learn from the Mexican. The idea: To unearth delicious morsels, be it the black mole sauce or tlayudas or tamales and barbacaos. The new Sanchez Taquería and Cantina by Lounge Hospitality celebrates the cuisine that the Americans twisted to create the over-done Tex-Mex, and enthuses it with traditional Aztec and Mexican notes.
The brand’s first Mexican offering, Sanchez Restaurante and Cantina is located in UB and now this second one takes Indiranagar’s 12th Main by platefuls, with the sombrero sporting Sanchez. Yet, first, if it’s Tex-Mex, we’d like to be as far away from it as possible. Because classic authentic Mexican sends a rush of flavours that the other dilutes. While its similarity to India cuisine might make it a fad, Chef Seth says. “To keep our recipes authentic, we source our Mexican chillies, masa for making yellow and blue corn tortillas from Mexico.”
The new tiled and azulejos-filled spanking Sanchez is a colourful and rustic flavourful trail of Mehico! Live taco and guacamole counters, wet burritos, with two choices of fillings, it’s travel that has opened the mind... and finds its essence on the menu. Be it hard-yellow corn, blue corn, sea flavoured charcoal, beet, spinach tacos, the taco selection is amazing.
On Tex Mex, Chef Seth admits that it is more acceptable to the Indian palate. With Sanchez, his endeavour is to lay out portions of authentic Mexican cuisine. “Tamales, mole (Nahuatl word for sauces), barbacoa, etc. Everybody won’t like a mole (a sauce with chocolate with chilli, fruit and nuts). There is so much more our menu offers,” explains Chef Seth. We started with a fresh in-house Queso or homemade cheese from Oaxaca with a sweet and citrusy chipotle jam with golden hued Bolillo bread! Delicious.
“At Sanchez we explore the brilliance of tacos, albeit with the quintessential Sanchez twist. In keeping with our philosophy of doing food, fresh and flavoursome, we have recreated the modern Taquería experience complete with a ‘live’ taco rolling. Oaxaca and Mexico City have a great influence on this menu. I learnt the art of making the Oaxacan artisan Queso fresco, Tacos Al Pastor and Mole during my travels, which is on the menu,” elaborates Chef Seth.
Avocado, beet, pumpkin, corn and bell pepper, Avocado toasts straight out of an aromatic Taquería’s live counter, we chomped on The Sanchez Avocado Toast, with the fresh Bolillo, yum. Try the Smashed Beets & Cheese or the glazed Pumpkin & Avocado too. The live Guacamole table service is a quick cooking class, as the sous chef scooped out creamy avocado, mixed it in the original Molcajetes which Chef Seth carried back from Mexico. We eyed a special scooper (Home Store has a cheaper version). The Guacamole was tangy, buttery and delicious with corn chips, salsa and sour cream.
For mains, we had beet taco with avocado and pico de gallo! Lip-smacking. We also had a pulled smokey chipotle chicken in hard blue corn tacos sprinkled with Mozzarella and salsa, its smokey tenets were wonderful. Our favourite was Sanchez Tacos Al Pastor, a slow-cooked Achiote pork in tacos with charred pineapple. Juicy pork with achiote hints was brilliant. “We call it lipstick spice as the annatto seeds are used to make lipstick! It is slowly braised in the oven,” Chef Kunal Pal, executive chef, Sanchez informed us. For vegetarians, the cuisine serves a volley of garden fresh options. The smokey chipotle charred broccoli, asparagus and green beans in carrot tacos had hint of charcoal on crispy veggies... with a salsa tang.
Next came the Garnachas on a small crispy tortilla, with salsa and queso fresco. The Chocolate Mole Chicken was okay, we tend to agree with the chef on those chocolate and chicken notes not doing much for us. You can decide for yourself, though. The small roundels of Green Mole vegetables were crunchy, roasted well, and perfect with our Guacamole margarita, MUST have. It’s unique and buttery!
We then went onto have our next favourite, the Wet Burritos (which incidentally means small donkey!)! Go figure! The Sanchez one came with double filling. There was a queso and ancho one, one in two - delicious. In fact, anything with queso is on our list! With chicken, it was scrumptious. The meal and interactive specials make Sanchez bustling like a Mexican market... and the general vibe is happy, content and ingredient bursting.
For dessert it was an all time favourite, Tres Leche, which came dunked in condensed milk, cold and creamy... so good. A dark chocolate guacamole made with avocado was impressive... creamy in texture. “The mousse is a healthy option and we have a vegan option too,” says executive chef Kunal Pal.
We also had the ice cream taco with dulche de leche, a favourite. Loved the creamy, milky flavour of the ice cream, did not care much for the cake sandwich, though.
Amigo Sanchez does a splendid job. With a menu that had us at Queso, tacos al pastor ... and tres leches!...