If you think you’ve been busy, Chef Opel Khan’s likely been busier. His Sydney restaurant Khanaa, which opened this September, is his 53rd restaurant. He’s also behind Potts Point spots Pizza Boccone, Acqua E Farina and Metisse.
Located on leafy Crown Street in an elegant dining room with white walls, dark timber tables and bay windows, Khanaa taps into the flavours Khan tasted as a kid growing up in Bangladesh.
“I’d always wanted to bring Bangladesh food to the world in an astonishing manner,” says Khan. “No one has ever done avant garde Bengali cuisine in Australia before.”
A la carte dishes include shiraz caviar with aloo pakora, roasted cauliflower with black truffle tuile and barramundi with dal tadka. Khan’s personal favourite is the duck leg confit samosa, which uses a typical Bengali samosa recipe, but adds in duck instead. For a sample of the menu highlights, order the tasting menu, which features no less than nine courses, all beautifully presented.
“The tasting menu is a well-thought-out journey of Bengal in a very exquisite manner on your table,” Khan says. “From as basic as aloo pakora, to sticky beef short ribs, it doesn’t go wrong. In Bangladesh, it’s never just one dish, it’s a package of dishes on the table.”
Alongside the food menu, the drinks list will comprise wines and spirits, all locally sourced from different regions of Australia and picked to be paired with the dishes.
It’s a family affair at Khanaa with Khan’s daughter Lucinda Khan in the kitchen, alongside Jazz Singh, and his other daughter Jasmine Khan welcoming guests with Nish Sharma. Khan’s wife Julie oversees all group operations.
Khan, who boasts over a million followers on Instagram and can often be found serving guests himself, says he considers himself an entrepreneur first and a chef second. This, along with the fact he isn’t scared of anything, he says, is what he attributes to his success.
“I like what I do,” he says. “A proverb by Saint Kabir says that whatever task is due tomorrow, do it today. And the task due today, do it right now, as if the world is to end in the next moment. That keeps me going and encourages me to open one restaurant after the next, and by God’s grace, I have only trodden a path towards a better future.”
“Also, I have been quite fortunate with the team I have worked with.”