Monday, March 2, 2009

Yaxche--The Mayan Vibe

Yaxche in Playa del Carmen, Mexico has mastered the fine art of detail. The creators of this Mayan themed restaurant, must have spent a great deal of time brainstorming the small tidbits that so stuck in the minds of the Palateers. From the ambience, menu and dishes, Yaxche embodies the proper meaning of the themed dining experience.

Upon arrival, the Palateers were led into a recreated Mayan court yard--adorned with Yucatan inspired pictures and paintings. The faint but audible Mayan music and candle light made the atmosphere ripe with couples and small groups. We were especially impressed by the small rolls with miniature butters wrapped in a corn husk.

The menu read like a short creative novel. Sections of the menu were broken into titles such as “Medicine of the People” (Soups), The Feat of the Jaguar (Meat) and Endless Sacrifices (Desserts). The menu also was helpful in indicating which dishes were truly Mayan inspires. We started off our meal with a warm and satisfying Massewal, or chicken soup with tortilla strips
and chicken. Quenching our thirst with a Tulum: otherwise known as a orange, strawberry and mango smoothie.

For the main course, we had the Cochinita Pibil, savory pulled pork in a delicious sour orange sauce served on a hot cast iron pan with frying onions. Accompanied with tortillas, it created the finest tacos that we have experienced in Mexico. The Xaman Ha was a work of pure engineering. Fresh fish stuffed with celery and carrots, which was then wrapped in green edible leaves, served floating in a green sauce was impressive and refreshingly vegetably.

At one point during the meal, our entire side of the restaurant sat enthralled, witnessing a circus-esque feat by one of the waiters. He rolled a small metal cart with two pots to a couple's table, and proceeded to create a fiery masterpiece of a drink by lighting alcohol with a blue flame, and pouring the flame from one pot to another, before extinguishing it into a latte glass.
While Playa del Carme is flush with restaurants that serve as little more than costly tourist traps, Yaxche is worth spending a bit extra for a full-sensory trip back to the age of the Mayas.

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