12 Jul Bhang, Brunswick
Co-owners Sway Quach and Chef Dougal Colam, also the duo behind behind Tom Phat, have entered into the field of Indian cuisine with a Bhang. After their extensive travels throughout India, they realised that that the diverse street foods and regional styles of cooking couldn’t be found in Melbourne, and decided to bring a little bit of that back to Oz.
The building is a converted warehouse, the fit out has been designed, and almost completely done up by the team themselves. Bollywood posters line the walls of the bar downstairs. Come up one level, and you’ll find a bright and warm dining room, bounded by exposed brick and timber. It feels cosy and lived-in, despite only being three weeks old. From the dining room there are views of the kitchen, but thankfully these aren’t accompanied by any strong fragrances.
Bhang is actually a form of edible marijuana commonly found in India, but you won’t find any of it here. Instead you’ll elicit pleasure from the food and drink. The menu at Bhang is filled with Indian street food, charcoal grilled meats, and vegan and vegetarian dishes. North Indian curries are one of the most well-known types of curry in Melbourne, but there’s much more to Indian cuisine that that. Here at Bhang you won’t just find the creamier, more spice-laden dishes of Northern India, but also the lighter and fresher South Indian ones, as well as dishes from other regions.
Pani Puri are refreshing snacks that are perfect for kicking off a meal. The crispy puffs contain potato, chickpea and tamarind, and are filled with a zingy liquid that should be downed in one bite.
It would be a shame to avoid vegetables at Bhang. Bharwan Vanghi are chargrilled stuffed eggplants with peanuts, coconut and coriander. The translucent and tender eggplants are amongst the most popular of dishes. Gobhi Korma, charcoal roast cauliflower with almonds, raisins, honey and yoghurt is nice and smokey, and despite the list of ingredients, isn’t too sweet.
Similarly smokey is the Bhunee Machi, a whole charcoal-roasted trout seasoned with kashmir spices. The fish is juicy and translucent.
Balichao Do Porco is Goan slow-cooked pork with shrimp sauce and tamarind. The shrimp and tamarind flavour isn’t very prominent, but it’s still a tasty dish that has a flavour profile unlike any Indian dish I’ve had before. Another popular dish is the Kolhapuri Tambda Rassa. The meat of this red lamb neck curry is pull-apart tender.
We end with least sweet of the three dessert options: Spiced Pear, poached to perfection, with masala chai ice cream and coconut halwa.
Bhang presents a refreshing take on Indian cuisine, and hopefully one that will encourage more to explore the diversity the cuisine has to offer.