Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 28, 2009: Indya Bistro

Edit 22/12/11: Indya Bistro is now closed. It's been replaced by another Indian restaurant called Ganesha.

Cindy and I were at a loose end on Friday night and, with the weather a bit on the ugly side, we wanted to go somewhere local to eat. Without any particular inspiration, we decided just to wander up Rathdowne Street and see what we stumbled across. Surprisingly (to me anyway), the little Rathdowne Village strip is pumping of a nighttime, with places like Rathdowne Street Foodstore and Black Ruby open for dinner, and the usual suspects like Zum Zum bubbling along. Amidst it all was a brand new place: Indya Bistro, a fancy looking Indian restaurant.

It was pretty quiet, with a few curious diners taking up some of the tables, and friendly staff greeting us and ushering us to one of spare tables. The menu is quite small for an Indian restaurant, without the dozens and dozens of curries you get at a cheaper takeaway place. For the non-meat eaters, there are even fewer choices: five entrees and four mains.

Cindy, typically, was much more excited by the entrees than the mains, and was particularly taken by the promise of 'Mumbai fries' ($7) - crunchy potato masala fries, Mumbai style.

Turns out that these are basically just fries, with a few interesting spices on them. The flavour reminded Cindy and I of some crisps we'd bought from an Indian grocer before, and the whole experience made me feel a little dirty. I mean, chips! At an Indian restaurant! It just doesn't feel right.

To accompany her chips, Cindy went for something that sounded at least slightly more healthy: gobi florets ($7), cauliflower florets tossed in a honey garlic sauce.

Turns out these were probably even less healthy than the chips. Imagine crispy-fried honey chicken but with cauliflower instead of chicken in the middle. This was sweet and oily. And delicious - let's not forget delicious. A very odd dish for an Indian place, but one that was insanely addictive. I could have kept snacking on them all night.

Being more of a traditionalist, I couldn't order anything but a curry with rice. I was tempted by the palak paneer, but decided to branch out and try something new: Diwani Handi Delight ($18), mixed roasted vegetables and cottage cheese in a funugreek flavoured sauce.

The first thing I noticed was the freshness of the vegies - when you're ordering a $10 curry, you kind of expect your vegies to be the dregs of the market, drowned in strongly flavoured sauce. But at $18, I had higher expectations for this dish, and I wasn't disappointed by the quality of the produce. The sauce was mildly spiced, and not particularly fenugreeky to my tastes, but enjoyable enough. If you ignore the price it was pretty impressive, but I'm not quite convinced it was worth $18.

Indya Bistro are just getting things going - they're still waiting on a liquor licence, and I'm hopeful that they'll expand their menu a bit as they settle in. Still, there's something a bit weird about spending nearly $20 on a curry, so for now we'll stick to cheap takeaways, tiffins and homemade alternatives.

Address: 643 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North
Ph: 9347 6387
Price: Vegie entrees $7, vegie mains $15-$18
Unlicensed (for now)


  1. OMG those gobi florets look amazing!

  2. Not sure if this little eatery is going to make it (like the odd place next to the Paragon that keeps opening and closing - it just meet the standard the locals expect).

    Have you eaten next door at Chin Chins? Its a good Pan-Asian restaurant. There are some good veg options like tofu and veges, vegetarian singapore noodles and a few entrees. Not a huge array but they do the basics well.

  3. They were, Brian! It's almost a shame that this place has such a restaurant vibe - I'd rather go there for beer and snacks. :-)

    Haven't been to Chin Chins, AOF, but should stop by sometime. We visit Rathdowne Village surprisingly rarely given how close by we live.

  4. Yes I went there also to the new Indian place Indya Bistro.
    Fantactic interior and ambience as well as service. Its only new but the food is fantastic, my first time. The prices are consistent with the surrounding places and are not too cheap and not too expensive. Chicken Korma was to die for as was the carrot dessert

  5. My wife and I have lived on Rathdowne Street for many years and its always a great place for upmarket eateries. We have been to this place twice last week and have fallen in love with Indya Bistro and its broad range of tasty food. The vegetarian dishes are really special. We are trying to work our way down the menu each time. They have just introduced a new takeaway menu at very reasonable prices. Highly recommended.

  6. Welcome, Anonymous & Locumallies - thanks for chipping in! Good to hear they have a takeaway menu now, as I saw a takeaway hopeful being turned away on the night we were there. We'll have to give that a go sometime.

  7. Are you talking about Magic Masala crisps? I LOVE those. I just hoovered up a packet in about 5 minutes, that's how much this post made me crave them!

  8. I am pretty sure that's what we're talking about - distinctive and crave-worthy stuff. :-)

  9. I went back last night - its even better now! Great new expanded menu started this week. I tried some of the newer stuff and its really good. Its about time we had an indian restaurant that served good quality food, not just pages and pages of pre-prepared 'one sauce fits all'dishes.