The team behind restaurant Ezra, which brought the pizazz of Tel Aviv to Sydney, is back with another venue, Raja Sydney, an Indian spot they’re calling a love letter to Mumbai.
Co-owners Nick and Kirk Mathews Bowden say Sydney hasn’t yet experienced this iteration of Indian cuisine before, with the restaurant championing the Indian food and flavours often overlooked in Australia.
Heading the kitchen is Ahana Dutt who has previously worked at The Westin in Mumbai and Firedoor in Sydney. She says she’ll be weaving together traditional Indian flavours with contemporary twists and cooking techniques. Her aim? To showcase the plethora of flavours from all over the sub-continent.
“Mumbai was home to me for three years,” she says. “It has a special place in my heart. There are many dishes on the menu that are inspired by my time living there. There is a schezwan sauce on the menu, malwani masala clams and a pepperberry, black pepper and garlic butter crab, inspired by the crab at [Mumbai restaurant] Trishna.”
Another of Dutt’s aims with the menu was to play on the India-Australia relationship, which she did by incorporating native Australian ingredients into the dishes. There’s a Davidson plum meethi chutney and a native citrus achaar with pepperberry and garlic butter.
“Personally, I lean heavily on memories when coming up with dishes,” she says. “Whether it is food that my mum made for me or something that forms a part of my memories in Mumbai — triple schezwan fried rice was a staple weekend dinner while I was living in a hostel there.”
“It is also important for me to showcase dishes that people in Sydney have not seen yet.”
As for her favourite dish on the menu, Dutt says that though it’s hard for her to choose, she’d recommend the winter greens bhorta and crudites. “Bhorta”, she says, is a Bengali paste. The dish is finished with mustard oil.
“It is vibrant and punchy,” she says. “It also showcases the best farm produce we can get our hands on — Escarole from Moonacres, carrots and beetroots from Newcastle greens.”
To complement the food menu, a wine list features curated bottles from Australia’s best new talents, along with a selection of international drops. The cocktail list was designed by local mixologist, Michael Chiem from PS40 bar who incorporated Indian flavours to create reimagined classics.
The décor was inspired by the “romantic idea” of Mumbai, designed by New York City-based hospitality designer Rosie Rainbow. It’s tongue-in-cheek and interactive, with frequent references to Bollywood.
Features include an illuminated waved front courtyard banquette, a mahogany and amber glass entryway and a dusty pink private dining room. Tiled archways and hand-painted murals can be found throughout.
The restaurant opened Tuesday, July 18, next door to Ezra on 1A Kellett Street in Potts Point.