Inside Sunny Leone’s sprawling restaurant in Noida

Why Noida? I wasn’t interested in Mumbai because everyone else was, and I didn’t want a restaurant for the sake of it,” is the opening gambit of Bollywood actor Sunny Leone as she sits before me in a pink dress over a white shirt at Chica Loca, her first restaurant in India.

“Opening a restaurant was a long time due,” she adds. A collaboration with Singing Bowls Hospitality, led by Sahil Baweja, the actor plans to open other outlets in Hyderabad, Goa, and Punjab, she tells TMS.

Entrepreneurship is not new to Leone. In 2019, she started, together with husband Daniel Weber, a production company, Sun City Media and Entertainment, which is the parent company of three of her brands – I am Animal (an athleisure label), Affetto (a fragrance line), and Starstruck (luxury cosmetics brand).

Leone’s distinct style of glamour is stamped all over the restaurant’s décor. The 7,000-square-foot place is draped in purple—from wine-hued curtains to lavender flowers and lights. On the first floor, next to the bar, there is an entire black wall that is mounted with stunning black-and-white portraits of Leone in diva mode, in her red-carpet gowns, besides Leone on vacation. There is also a performance stage, a cocktail bar, and a sprawling terrace with a breathtaking view.

Chica Loca offers a multi-cuisine menu with a modern interpretation of Indian, Asian, European, and Italian cuisine, drawing inspiration from Leone’s travels. “From my mother’s comforting paranthas to the vibrant tacos savoured during vacations in Cancun [Mexico], from the elegant sushi at corporate launches to carefree burgers I enjoyed on kids’ day out in California—each dish encapsulates a distinct moment of love,” she says.

Sunny Leone at Chica Loca

Hits: the Asian menu

After the actor leaves for her next appointment, I am free to explore the dishes. The Asian menu is, in particular, a success, thanks to the expertise of head chef Vaibhav Bhargava. The sushi game, too, is spot on. I try the Scottish Salmon-and-Cucumber Sushi (Rs 945), alongside the Asparagus Tempura (Rs 845). The bowl of Chili Garlic Gyoza (Rs 445) transported me to Vietnam. In the middle of the Asian journey, we took a mini detour through Matar Waali Tikki (Rs 595), a green pea and cottage cheese patty stuffed with nuts and cheese, which was not dry; they hit the perfect balance of peas, cheese and spices. Next, was a Spanish delicacy, Prawn Gambas (Rs 995) – big juicy paprika shrimp and green olives swimming in tasty white wine and garlic sauce; it was bright, garlicky, spicy and rich in the best way possible.

At Chica Loca’s mixology section, I tried the Peetal vs Gold (Rs 749) cocktail – a tribute to Leone’s song ‘Baby Doll’. “On the menu, each cocktail is accompanied by a personal anecdote, emphasising the story behind it. The aim is not just to serve good food but also create a memorable experience for the patrons,” Leone had pointed out earlier.

Chef Arpit brings Middle Eastern flavours and Gulf spices to the table, showcasing expertise from his time in Bahrain. His top picks include the Four Cheese Chicken Malai Tikka (Rs 695). The succulent chicken, marinated to perfection, has a harmonious blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses.

Sunny Leone with Sahil Baweja, co-owner, Chica Loca

Some misses

In another culinary adventure, Chica Loca introduces the Avocado Ceviche (Rs 395), a playful twist on pani puri, showcasing a spicy filling of Avocado mousse. While the concept is attractive, the dish needs more balance in terms of spice. The Butter Chicken Gujiya (Rs 545) follows with a flavourful chicken filling, though the thick pastry disappoints. Chica Loca’s fusion successes include Leone’s favourite, the Avocado Papdi Chaat (Rs 595), a medley of mango murabba, two chutneys, sweet yoghurt, and microgreens; it wakes up the palate with its refreshing, zingy, and vibrant flavour profile, and the Galouti Kebab Sliders (Rs 695), stuffed in mini buns, delivers a melt-in-the-mouth experience.

The dessert section combines Indian delicacies such as Shahi Tukda and Kulfi with New York’s Classic Cheesecake and the Italian Tiramisu. My pick is an Italian delight: Sweet Fried Cannelloni (Rs 495) filled with sweet white cream, a coconut, honey and pistachio crumb coating served with a base of blueberry compote. It refreshes the palate after a hearty meal.

At Gulshan One29, fourth floor, Sector 129, Noida, open all day, 11am-1.30 pm

Price for two: Rs 1,200

from Food

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