On quiet-as-the-proverbial Wembley Ave, the Bollywood tunes sing sweetly down the empty street, and you can't help but be drawn in to Mishra's Kitchen.
This sandwich bar by day morphs into an Indian restaurant at night. Inside, the decor is slightly functional but still belies a loving touch.
Chef Sanjeev is the personality behind Mishra's Kitchen and he is full of smiles, whether busy at work in the open kitchen or checking that everyone's happy at your table. A smartly-dressed young waiter gave us attentive, friendly service.
Onion bhaji, $5
Onion bhaji to start. I found these a bit dull - I prefer the more freeform style of bhaji/pakora that, say, Indi Hots do.
These samosas were nice - love the authentic touch of ajwain seeds in the dough - but they were big and, for me, too substantial for an entree. More like a light lunch really.
Alu baigan masala, $10
Top marks for this eggplant and potato curry, the potato perfectly tender and imbued with spices, the eggplant silky with glistening black skin, all in a rich red sauce.
Butter chicken, $12
Great butter chicken too, not too buttery and with rich tomato flavour. I may or may not have hoovered up the leftovers for breakfast the next day. One great thing about Mishra's is all the menu items have codes as to whether they are gluten- and/or lactose-free.
Shabnam curry, $10
This mushroom and pea curry was well made with fresh vegies but was very rich, not from excessive oil or butter but from coconut cream. It was a little too much for me but if you were hankering for a creamy curry, this would wrap you up like a fluffy blanket.
Special of the day, $12?
This was the chef's special of the day, a chicken and vegie curry in a coconut sauce, which I think was the same sauce as the mushroom curry above - an unintentional double-up on our part. Delicious but again, rich. I am keen to try more of the tomato- and/or vinegar-based curries like the eggplant and potato above.
Tender basmati rice, each grain separate...
Plain naan ($2) and garlic naan ($2.50)
...and winning, proper tandoori naan, big discs puffed right up like woodfired pizza, providing contrast between crackled top and chewy bottoms. Spy the tandoori oven in the earlier kitchen pic, skewers dangling promisingly above it. I think the naan prices are really fair - hate paying $3.50 or more for one soggy garlic naan at other places.
We only really skimmed the surface of the menu and somehow managed to unintentionally miss the entire tandoori section. I had four kids with me and felt like I was playing that carnival game where the gophers pop up out of holes and you have to bash them down with a squishy hammer - averting crises left, right and centre! To this end, the butter chicken was a hit (pun fully intended).
I'm keen to try the Goan fish (with ground coconut, tamarind and whole spices), the vindaloo with garlic and green chilli and even the kormas, with an almond-based, white sauce. The serves seem bigger than other Indian restaurants and the prices are great - $10 for veg curries, $12 for meat and $14 for seafood. Next Indian takeaway night, I'm here - parking is a snap to boot.
Thanks to Kenny for the company and the great tip - check out Kenny's visits here and here! Also thanks to Melissa who wrote to me, saying: "Thanks for creating your blog and celebrating the west! My partner and I went to Mishra's Kitchen at Wembley Ave, yarraville last night. Best indian in years (since the Carlton Curry House uni days). Great food, prices and a chef that is passionate about his food, sharing and the community feel."
18 Wembley Avenue, Yarraville
Phone: 9314 3336
Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm (lunch menu) and 5pm-10pm (Indian dinner menu)
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