Restaurant Review: ARAKU Brings Earth-Friendly Dining To Mumbai

Indian specialty coffee brand ARAKU’s first restaurant in Mumbai puts the spotlight on regenerative agriculture and celebrates everyday ingredients such as millets, beans, beets, and potatoes.

Published On Dec 22, 2023 | Updated On Mar 05, 2024


After Paris and Bengaluru, ARAKU—the Indian specialty coffee brand—has now planted its beans in Mumbai. The 55-seater restaurant dedicated to regenerative agriculture-based dining is housed in the iconic Sunny House, a century-old building built in 1897 by the Nawab of Surat. Alluringly, ARAKU is a light-drenched spot with dominating large windows that offer a view of some the architectural gems of Colaba and the ever flowing human river outside.  

The story so far

ARAKU— which began its journey by selling green coffee beans to Europe, Japan, and South Korea—launched its first ever retail store in Paris in 2017. This was followed by ARAKU café in Bengaluru in 2021. The restaurant in Mumbai is India’s first regenerative agriculture- based restaurant. What this means is that ARAKU has ensured that the farms they work with are not just sustainable but also create a healthy environment for the soil and the plants to thrive in. This guarantees gut- friendly ingredients for patrons and profits for the farmers. Interestingly, the name ARAKU comes from a tribal community’s word for ‘red soil’.

The dining room 

ARAKU is designed by New York-based architect Jorge Zapata with loads of timber, natural stone, and brass. A sleek coffee bar is the first thing that greets you on entering the 2,800 sq. ft. restaurant. This signature Modbar is where you can chat with the barista and customise your coffee experience. The wall behind is decked up with coffee paraphernalia and brewing equipments. Bamboo chandeliers crafted by artisans from North East India add a glamourous touch to the bar.

With clean, white washed walls and a smattering of greens, ARAKU is soothing to the eyes. The whites also make for the perfect backdrop for Richard Pike and Saubiya Chasmawala’s artworks as well as a 3D map of the Araku Valley, where tribal farmers grow coffee in over 60,000 small coffee estates. The heart of the dining room is an open kitchen lined with stools where diners can linger with a cocktail and a front row view of the dish being prepared by an army of cooks.

The Modbar at the entrance

A short flight of steps leads to the mezzanine that houses a cocktail bar, lounge, and a glass fronted bakery. There’s also a ‘nook’ with books handpicked by co-founder Manoj Kumar. Pick a book and a coffee and you may never want to leave! ARAKU is the sort of place where you’re likely to linger until the staff starts bussing your dessert plates and cocktail glasses.

The menu, conceptualised by chef Rahul Sharma and restaurateur Aditi Dugar, celebrates native ingredients through a fresh lens. You won’t find any molecular gastronomy here;, just humble, everyday ingredients worked into elegant dishes—like a wonderfully composed dish of garlic yoghurt cleverly accessorised with seasonal green peas cooked with cultured butter. Paired with the inhouse bread and a peppercorn flavoured butter dip, the textures and flavours of the dish dance as if they’re at a beloved cousin’s wedding. Then there are purple sweet potatoes that gets a brown butter dressing for a melt in the mouth meal. Expect dishes centred around a single ingredient—such as the beetroot brulee, where the root vegetable is made into a luscious custard, pickled and even fried into crunchy chips. An earthy gathering of red rice congee with stir- fried morning glory, crispy red rice and chilli oil is drenched in comfort. But then amongst all this was a bowl of hot sauce noodles which was supposed to arrive in a lacto-fermented chilli broth with preserved lemon, but lacked both the promised tang and the sharp brightness.

Garlic Thecha-Focaccia Of The Day

Snacks are the way to go at ARAKU. This is where the menu really comes alive. A dish of batter-fried green peppercorn leaves served with pickled green pepper aioli is alarmingly simplistic but shockingly good, while a shrimp toast cleverly laced with garlic thecha can easily double up as a sumptuous meal.

Kidney Bean Aioli

Chokha-inspired smoked eggplant with pepper sauce finds an exuberant partner in sourdough papad. The breads here are top notch with sourdough leading the way, followed by focaccia and a stellar tapioca-whole wheat bread served with garlic butter and pickles. The cocktail programme, when it goes live in a few weeks, also promises loads of surprises. Kitchen ingredients like millets, beetroot, tomato, passion fruit, carrots, honey and coffee will find their way into martinis and whisky sours. And there’s always coffee brewed as per preference.

Potato Chocolate Cake

Desserts at ARAKU hit the sweet spot between simplicity and surprise. A green pepper cake soaked in rhubarb comes with fresh cream while a caramalised potato cake comes topped with a cascade of dark chocolate mousse and potato crisps. It reiterates the kitchen’s knack for deftly articulated dishes and the willingness to try something new. In a restaurant year largely defined by retrenchment and safety, this quality feels especially precious.

Address: Sunny House, Mandlik Road Behind Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai 
Meal for two: Rs 2,400 for without alcohol; Rs 3,500 with alcohol (The bar programme will be launched soon)

Photo: ARAKU Mumbai