It’s quite fitting, I would think, that the first restaurant I visited in the New Year was one that had been the talk of the town for most of the previous year! Serving traditional Armenian cuisine right in the heart of the city, Lavaash By Saby has been garnering rave reviews ever since it opened a few months ago. To say that I was brimming over with curiosity to find out what the fuss was all about would be a gross understatement!
My first tryst with Armenian food occurred all the way over in New York City in the summer of 2014! I was on a personal quest to stuff myself silly with all the junk food I could lay my hands on; from Pizzas at Lombardi’s in Little Italy, to Burgers at the iconic Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, from Cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery to Chili Dogs from every Hot Dog Stand I crossed, my plate was perpetually quite full! So when some family that calls NYC home suggested we meet up at an Armenian Restaurant for dinner, I was a bit skeptical to say the least! I mean, it’s certainly great to catch up with familiar faces when you’re traveling, and I’m sure Almayass was one of their favourite restaurants with good reason, but I hadn’t travelled all the way to The Big Apple to eat food I knew absolutely nothing about!
Suffice it to say that along with some unfamiliar yet delicious food, I had to eat my words that evening too!
So it was with raised expectations and whetted appetites that my brother and I made our way over to Ambawatta One in Mehrauli, South Delhi last Sunday! And I’m glad to report back that my second time sampling Armenian food was just as great as the first!
It was a crisp wintery afternoon. We arrived at Lavaash By Saby armed with the belief that reaching around the opening time of noon would be enough to secure us a table on their lovely terrace. But as luck would have it, the entire outdoor seating area had already been pre-booked, and it was by sheer chance that we managed to get a small table in the corner of the main dining area!
The décor is stylish and vibrant, with bold walls and colourful motifs. Birds are a common decorative element, right from the embroidery on the multicolored upholstery to the peacocks incorporated into the logo. There’s plenty of sunlight streaming in through the large arched windows, all amalgamating into a bright and happy experience.
On our server’s recommendation, we chose to start with Lamb Kobbideh from the Khoravats or barbeque section; charcoal grilled spiced lamb cooked on skewers. We were also keen, naturally, to try the Armenian flatbread that the restaurant is named after and these kebabs incidentally come served atop a bed of freshly baked Lavash bread. Soft and succulent, the kebabs were delicious albeit a bit on the spicier side.
The Onion-Prawn Tolma sounded very interesting and had come highly recommended as well, so this was the second dish we decided to try. Tolma is a popular Armenian stuffed vegetable dish, and while the prawns marinated in coconut milk, ginger and chilli would tantalize any seafood lover’s tastebuds, I found I didn’t particularly care for the onions they came wrapped in, even though I will admit the subtle sweetness of the baked onions certainly created an interesting addition to the flavours.
Next up, was the Jurassic Cheese Lavash Pizza; wafer thin and so crisp it looked like it would crack when lifted. Containing just three types of cheeses made in the Indian state of West Bengal (salted bandel, smoked bandel and kalimpong), this pizza was striking in its sheer simplicity.
Pumpkin Manti was the first option on the menu in the traditional Armenian Mains section, and quite possibly my favourite dish from this entire meal of great dishes. Armenian ravioli stuffed with roast pumpkins & walnuts, swimming in yoghurt sauce and kalimpong cheese; each bite just felt better than the last!
Lastly we tried the Kabiraji Cutlet, a minced chicken cutlet coated with a fine chiffonade of egg gondoraj lemon and served with Kasundi mustard. In other words, fried chicken. Ordinary. And honestly a bit of a let-down after quite a stellar meal.
I was beyond stuffed by now, but my brother insisted we try some dessert as well. The Milk Chocolate, Walnut & Cherry Cheesecake was just about alright but the Ponchiki, an Armenian version of doughnuts filled with your choice of cream or Nutella were delightfully comforting and a fitting end to the meal!
I hear the Old Monk Mousse is to-die-for so I suppose that should be enough to warrant another visit soon!
Have you been to Lavaash By Saby yet? What were your thoughts and impressions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!