14 Nov Bhoj, Docklands
Originally beginning in Templestowe and initially running at both locations, the owners of Indian favourite Bhoj, decided to focus on the Docklands restaurant, which is now 13 years old. Chef-owner Rajesh Mehta is in charge the kitchen of this family-run restaurant. The interior gives the impression of fine dining, but it doesn’t feel stuffy, and the large presence of subcontinental patrons is a good sign.
Our experience gets off to a good start with some home made chutneys and papadums, as well as a thick mango and cardamom lassi and Whiskey Sour.
There have been recent changes to the menu, so we opt to try some of the new entrees. Gunpowder chicken comes a with a thick and crunchy spicy batter, and the winglet meat is amazingly juicy. The South Indian spices used are a flavour sensation and a point of difference to other fried chicken you might get elsewhere. The Hoshiarpuri Champaan lamb cutlets are tender and flavoursome, marinated in malt vinegar, cumin powder and other spices, and coming with a lovely char-grilled flavour on the outside. Not quite sure what to expect, we order the Okra Kurkure. What comes out are little strips of deep-fried and spiced okra that look a like green matchstick fries. The dry mango batter is tasty, and through some pieces were soggy, it was still addictively good.
You won’t find only the usual mains here. Butter chicken, tikka masala still feature, but there are also their own creations made from their own spice mixtures. Although the bowls might look small on first appearance, we find that it’s quite deceptive and there’s quite a lot of curry inside. We particularly love the sour notes of the Southern Fish Curry, and the creamy cashew, coconut and tamarind-based Murg Dolchi Golmirch, which has a lovely depth of flavour. Although the latter has coconut cream, it still manages to avoid being too heavy. Our curries are enjoyed with saffron rice and their sauces eagerly mopped up by naan and paratha. Their spiciness can be tamed with raita.
We feel full to the point of bursting, but we manage to try a dessert. Our first choice has sadly run out for the day, but we have the Gajjar Halwa instead. The slow-cooked grated carrot pudding, is quite sweet, but the sweetness is tempered by the ice cream. The addition of nuts gives it extra texture
It’s hard to know what to expect with some Indian restuarants, but here we were pleasantly delighted by the food, whether they be the entree or the curries. There may be many choices of food along Newquay Promenade, but do pay some thought to Bhoj.