Gaja by Sashi
Gaja By Sashi opened in late 2019, following owner Sashi Cheliah’s successful run as a contestant on the 2018 season of Masterchef Australia. It’s a reflection of Cheliah’s Singaporean heritage, plating up the kind of hearty pan-Asian dishes that won him the competition.
The restaurant’s menu, with dishes intended to share, is divided into smaller, in-between and larger servings. It draws on the many influences that have shaped Singaporean cuisine, such as Malay, South Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese food. The ma hor is a subtly sweet and salty Thai dish with minced sticky pork and prawn served on a slice of pineapple and topped with chilli, peanut, lime leaf and fish sauce. A signature is the Indian-inspired raan e khaass, a 1.1 kilo slow-roasted spiced lamb shoulder.
Another standout item is the lychee duck. It incorporates Indian and Thai influences and stars pan-seared slices of duck breast and confit duck leg served in a curry sauce with lotus root, Thai basil and Vietnamese coriander.
A selection of seven Asian-inspired cocktails designed by bar manager Matthew Kalleske complement the food. The majority of beers and wines are sourced locally.
The fit out features a colourful hand-painted mural of an elephant (gaja is a Sanskrit word for elephant) spans the restaurant’s western wall. Another mural at the rear of room depicts a sparrow flying out of a cage. Cheliah calls this section “the birdcage” and says it’s dedicated to his rehabilitation initiative, which provides employment in his restaurant to former prisoners.