Don't Tell Aunty
There’s a lot of peacock-blue velvet at Jessi Singh’s Don’t Tell Aunty. It’s there on the long banquets and cushions – which clash endearingly with the polished-brass dining chairs. There are also sherbet-pink walls, onto which Bollywood movies are projected.
Don't Tell Aunty shares the atmosphere of Singh’s other mod-Indian restaurants in Melbourne and the US. The menu is stridently “inauthentic Indian”. There is uni (sea urchin) biryani – a mixed-rice dish made with dates, turmeric, shallots, ginger and topped with salmon roe and uni “tongues”, the fleshy, sac-like parts of the sea urchin.
The Colonel Tso cauliflower is a play on the Sino-American dish General Tso chicken, which you find in North American Chinese restaurants. This is Singh’s version of gobi Manchurian, an Indian-Chinese dish found in Calcutta. The cauliflower is deep-fried into super-crisp florets and served with a Manchurian sauce of tomato, ginger, garlic and chilli. And the naan pizza is made with spiced tomato sauce and topped with fontina cheese and green-mango pickle-butter.
But it’s the butter chicken Singh is most proud of. He cooks the curry sans butter, ghee and oil yet it has a butter-y flavour, achieved through judicious use of dried fenugreek leaves and seeds.
There’s a self-serve beer fridge and wine shelf. The wine list features some $100-plus bottles. Singh says the stuffed blue peacock, installed above the shelf, keeps a watchful eye on any dishonest diners.