Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February 18, 2008: De Orchid

Cindy and I have blogged previously about our quest for an excellent Indian place. We've had a few successes, but mostly the local Indian places have been reasonably priced, reasonably tasty, slightly dull - nothing to really inspire our loyalty. Especially not when it comes to take away.

J-Wow told us that Spicy Junction on Johnston Street was worth checking out, so I wandered past on the way home to order something to take home and enjoy. The menu looked quite impressive, with loads of vego options, but they were inexplicably closed. Luckily I had a fallback plan - I'd wandered up Rathdowne Street on my way home one evening and stumbled across De Orchid, an Indian place about a block from our house that had completely passed us by. Luckily they were open and their menu was equally veg-friendly. We ordered three curries (to make sure we scored some leftovers for lunch the next day): Saag Paneer, Baingan Bharta and Malai Kofta - two old favourites and an eggplant curry that we'd tried once on our travels overseas and loved. We threw in a naan bread and some rice as well, making a pretty substantial load for me to bring home.

De Orchid delivered probably the best cheap Indian we've had in Melbourne: all three curries were impressive (and impressively creamy - it's probably best not to know any nutritional information about them), the bread was laced with garlic and cooked perfectly and the rice was... well the rice was just rice. The spice levels were about perfect for me, which meant they were probably a tad on the hot side for Cindy, but she still enjoyed her meal immensely - particularly the Baingan Bharta, which we have to try to make ourselves one day. The saag paneer was pretty good as well - rich and tasty, with a fairly generous scattering of paneer bits and the malai kofta, while a little on the saucy side, was not undelicious.

So, an unassuming local Indian place with nothing in particular to recommend it, takes the lead in our quest for a good local curry shop. We'll still give Spicy Junction a go, but it'll have to be very good to overtake De Orchid.

Update 4/9/09: After being 'temporarily' closed for nigh on a year, De Orchid has recently reopened. My first impressions: things have gone down hill - but we'll probably give them another chance and write a proper review.

Update 10/2/10: It appears that De Orchid is no more at this address. There's an Indian restaurant with a different name in its place, and we've not yet tried it. It's unclear whether the De Orchid has changed names, changed locations or disappeared entirely.

Address: 174 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
Ph: 9349 2626
BYO only (at least at the moment - I think there was a liquor licence application in the window)
Price: Veg curries: $8-$9


  1. Wow, that looks good. Malai Kofta is probably my fave Indian dish. If you are ever in the neighbourhood Cafe Saffron in Ivanhoe absolutely does the best koftas I have ever tried.

    I once bought an indian cookbook soley for the recipe. Sadly my attempt to make them was pretty disastrous. I think I'll leave it to the experts.

  2. How lucky you are to find this place and it's on your doorstep!! This was meant to be!! Vida x

  3. Cindy/ Michael,

    Just wanted to let you know of a Foodie Trivia night next Thursday as part of the F&W festival. If you are interested in coming along and helping me set up a table drop me a line on my blog.


  4. Tried the eccentrically named "Le Taj Brasserie" in North Melbourne last night - large selection of veggie food and a paneer special that was to die for.

  5. Sarah, Malai Kofta is my go-to dish as well. We've made a couple of pleasant kofta-type dishes at home (posted here and here), but it's rather time-consuming. Much more quick and comforting to buy them from a beloved local restaurant, I agree!

    Yes, Vida! I know I'm at home once I have a favourite local Indian restaurant - this might just be it. :-)

    Thanks, Jon! Sorry we won't be making it - I hope you can get the numbers together for a table, it looks like fun.

    Thank you, mystery commenter, for the recommendation. You've used the magic words: "paneer special". :-D

  6. I'm a bit concerned as to whether Spicy Junction is still trading. That site has seen a number of restaurants over a short period.

  7. I hope it hasn't folded, and after only a few short months! We'll be keeping an eye out.

  8. Happy to say they're still open. They've obviously realised their prices were too cheap, because they seem to have gone up by $.50 to a $1 per dish. Sadly, there didn't appear to be any paying customers in there when I went in.

  9. Thanks for the update, J-Wow!

  10. The food at De Orchid is unbelievable. Lamb Korma rocks and they have an amazing choice of Indian breads.

  11. I hear ya, Brett! I'll probably try the vegetarian korma next time we visit.