INDU is a modern marvel of South Indian/ Pakistani/ Sri Lankan food in the CBD of Sydney. It is a restaurant revelation of Sydney ran by the people who own the marvellous MEJICO (one in Miranda and one in the CBD). Owner Sam Prince and Food & Beverage Operations Manager, Richard Prout, are paying homage to home cooked dishes of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian cuisines. INDU also gives back to the community on which its food is based partnering with grassroots organisation Palmera to assist women living in rural villages via their Village to Village Program.
V2V’s first project has been to build a chicken coup in Northern Sri Lanka. This project will directly assist twenty widows from war-torn Sri Lanka who have been displaced by civil war by providing them employment to generate a meaningful income. The program provides job security, skills training, and vertical business opportunities such as crop farming. Bravo INDU!!
INDU is a design paradise, as with Sam Prince’s MEJICO venues, the design is sublime and no expense has been spared to set the tone of beautiful theatricality. You could feel lost entering the venue, there is no big and bold signage, but a small, subtle entry off Angel Way that walks down some stairs into another world. You enter into a completely foreign world that feels out of place underneath George St. It is a modern cacophony of delights to look at, a seduction and at times assault on the senses.
Their are private terracotta styled dining rooms, booths galore, a winding and twisting humungous venue where everywhere you look is something interesting. The colours are bold and beautiful with green, blues, yellows and everything else under the rainbow. Sections of roof have antique bells hanging, looking out windowed sections shows you wooden windmill-like structures and if you look up above the bar you can see the lower legs of people passing by oblivious to this oasis below them. Giant pots of Indian spices line the walls under the viewing windows of the kitchen allowing you to see the masters at work. This place is bustling, the place is loud and it has a brilliant sense of fun and being an in-place.
The staff are young, preppy, knowledgeable and gorgeous. Our waiter, James, knew everything about the menu, more so than the degree he was probably studying during the day. He could answer any question posed and I handed over the control of our order to him, he selected pretty much everything we ate and drank.
The bar is on fire. The level of cocktail joy we experienced was high. I had been to a couple of gin events the week prior and told this to our waiter. What followed was four cocktails (gin heavy) that knocked our socks off. A simple Hendrick’s with rose petal and cucumber was sublime. A Beefeater with Orange and Coriander was refreshing with a nice kick. And a gin mare with mango peel and peppercorn had me in love with the barman as much as the food and the venue and our waiter. Well played INDU, well played. Seduction achieved.
Most of the food at INDU is based around sharing, there is no better way to eat. I would suggest the best way to eat at INDU would be with the INDU FEAST. Sit back, relax, and let the Chef take you on a journey around the subcontinent. You enjoy something from each section of the menu. Feast is $65pp or with signature Lamb Raan for $80pp. We had our own version of this selected by the waiter.
If you were to seperate the menu into sections there is a Dosa section, a Coast section, a Village section, Curries and Grills, Essentials and then, last but never least, Desserts.
The ESSENTIALS is basically the sides, these are a marvel – dive in. I highly recommend the coconut sambol made at the table, although we didn’t order it it is a pungent and theatrical dish that would add to any dining experience. I would never order green beans but I was swayed by our waiter. The sautéed snake beans were topped with coconut, turmeric & crispy daal. They were phenomenal – could happily eat this as a main at home a few nights a week. We also got the lemon rice to accompany our dishes, divine!
Dosa is a South Indian pancake (of sorts) made from fermented batter. We got two from this section. The Smoked goat’s leg dosa with zucchini ribbon raita, pomegranate, chilli & bacon jam – it was amazing but after we rolled it it disintegrated with my guest cutting it up poorly haha. On a side note I actually took my personal trainer (also a friend, Elliot) to dinner to show him why I struggle to lose weight and be slim. He now understands. Following the goat’s legs dosa we had what was the most beautiful of the dishes and one of our fave’s – again ordered by our waiter. Egg hopper with eggplant pickle, pomegranate pearls, goat’s curd & coconut sambol (third pic down). It was basically a pancake nest of food, subtle in flavour and divine in the indulgence and presentation.
FROM THE COAST:
From the Coast section James ordered us two more dishes from heaven. Coconut crusted fresh crab kofta with squid ink & cardamom aioli (it’s the main picture) and it was a foodgasm on a plate. And then Pan seared scallops, tempered curd & smoked coconut. Not as good as the beetroot powdered scallops from MANJIT’S ON THE WHARF but sublime in their own right.
FROM THE VILLAGE:
By this stage we were pretty much full but we were only about halfway. Out came twice-cooked, NSW lamb ribs with an almond & jaggery spice crust. No word of a lie, the single best lamb ribs I have eaten in my life. The meat fell off the bone just by looking at it. And if you are wondering, jaggery is a type of cane sugar from Asia and Africa. Our second dish from this section was the handmade herbed paneer, served on crispy fenugreek roti, smoked bell pepper, pickled cucumber ribbons & radish. It was deliciously tasty but compared to the previous dishes it paled slightly.
CURRIES AND GRILL:
I was considering the need to possibly purge at this stage (this is a poor joke – do not take offence). We were so full and entering the true mains of the night. James bought us out 5-spice crusted local barramundi, string hoppers, turmeric & coconut molee. It was nice and Elliot throughly enjoyed it but if I rated all the dishes – this was my least favourite. This could be that I was so full already or the fish just wasn’t what needed to come following the previous.
That being said there was somehow abundant room for me to fit in their signature dish, the “The Great” Lamb raan. Marinated and tenderly slow roasted over 48 hours. Served with fresh mint chutney & lunumiris. It is $48- for a half serve and $80 for a full serve. Do yourself a favour and save room for this. So tender and so abundantly flavoursome, I was in heaven. Multiple foodgasm dish right here. If you are wondering ‘lunumiris’ is a spicy Sri Lankan sambal paste served as a condiment.
How I did it I will never know but following on from this feastage we then indulged in desserts and coffee. Elliot was going to punish me at the gym for this but my oh my it was worth it. Bite-sized gin & tonic cheesecakes on a crispy coconut & pistachio roti with dehydrated orange. These are one of the most divine desserts between INDU and MEJICO – at MEJICO they make a version with tequila and at INDU the Gin and Tonic rules. Had them both – equally as addictive.
Then we ate the best dessert of the year for me. Peanut semi-freddo with jaggery, popcorn, chocolate mousse, salted caramel & cocoa crumbs. There are no words, just look below.
INDU is in my Top 3 restaurants of the year (list is coming soon). The level of attention to detail at Sam Prince’s venues is sublime and it pays off in spades. I cannot thank the venue, our waiter James, Kirsten the manager of the venue for the evening, and Caroline from marketing for inviting Spooning to this venue. I will return for more of this awesome.
PH: (02) 9223 015
BOOKINGS: A Must
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Not ideal
Monday to Friday 12pm til late, Saturday 5pm til late
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.