Leigh-Ann Pow goes underground in the heart of Sydney for a taste of rural India. Does she find it in Indu?
As I head through the very unimposing doorway and down the equally nondescript stairs, I start to worry that I have taken a wrong turn somewhere; there’s a feel of a fire exit about my surroundings that has me nervous.
But, just as I am about to turn back, I arrive at another doorway through which I am transported into a bustling subterranean world, festooned with bright orange garlands, copious metal bells and a textural wood-on-concrete fit-out. I have arrived at Indu.
A handsome, smiling young man approaches, and as he ushers me to my table he points out the open kitchen dosa station to my right, where chefs are creating wafer-thin Indian pancakes to be filled with all manner of unctuous, spice-laden fillings that are thick in the air around me.
The space is compact with just a few small tables lining the walls, and I worry where he is going to find the room to put me. But after taking a sharp right at the bar I am delivered into a cavernous space of exposed concrete and interesting light fixtures.
There are tables aplenty in here, as well as generous booths where jovial groups are busy eating and laughing.
With a philosophy of celebrating the village culture of the subcontinent, Indu’s menu is made up of honest, rustic dishes that would normally be executed in much more humble circumstances.
For ease of navigation it is divided into categories: dosa bar; from the coast; from the village; curries and grill; with accompaniments and desserts rounding things off.
As I sit watching the flurry of activity around me, dishes are delivered to table. A watermelon salad with mint, cucumber, hung yoghurt and cardamom pomegranate molasses is so fresh, and the flavours and textures so well-balanced, that it becomes an instant favourite.
I soon find out that’s a big call when I start sampling the coconut sambol, red chilli, red onion and devilled cashew nuts, a delicious, crumbly dry mix that comes served with pillow-soft Indian milk buns.
This is followed by the pumpkin and green mango curry, all thick and moreish, and an equally compelling Goan pork belly curry that is run through with deep aromatics.
It might seem like gilding the lily, but you also have to have some house-made paratha on the table as they are just too good to miss out on, no matter how full you are.
The journey back up the nondescript stairs is as slow as my arrival, not due to trepidation this time but because I have eaten more than my fill; I couldn’t help myself.
The details: Indu, Sydney
Where: 350 George Street, Sydney, NSW; indudining.com.au
Verdict: The food here is rustic, honest and wonderfully flavoursome, far removed from the same old curries that most Indian restaurants tend to offer up.
We rated: The food; it is so good that stopping when you are full is hard to do.
We’d change: The concrete-on- concrete main dining space can be a little loud, and a discreet sign on the stairs down would help you find it.
Notes: Entry is via Angel Place not directly from George Street, so keep searching; it’s worth the effort.
All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.