Stuffed in between the hustle and bustle of Brunswick Street sits its latest newcomer: Mukka Indian Restaurant. Tadaaahhhh!! 😛 It’s outward appearance is understated – simple and slick. But perhaps a little too understated because, with little other than a sandwich board to catch one’s attention on a street that has so much going on, only a really keen nose would alert passers-by of the stewing Indian food inside!
The interior fit-out is Melbourne-perfect, and if you’re a Melbourne foodie, you’ll get what I mean! 😉 It’s pretty much on point with the cafe decor trend: quirky mis-matched everything, casual tables and chairs, all topped off with a hip vibe thanks to an array of rocky-punky music (side note: I’m 99% sure Dropkick Murphys were on the playlist at one point!). Whilst you’ll see glimpses of India all over the joint, it’s not tacky. Finally an Indian restaurant you’re perfectly happy to be spotted in!
Now, ’tis no secret we’re lovers of Indian cuisine, so when the enterprising and passionate Prateek invited us to come down to sample the menu of his new venture, you could say, we nearly threw the baby out with the bath water in accepting it! ha! ha!
It was a warm day, so Hubby Bear grabbed a cold local brew called Hawker Saison Beer ($7.50), which is apparently from Reservoir and very refreshing. I had a glass of Twelve Signs Cabernet Merlot ($7.50) that went down smooth; a perfect way to start dinner!
We checked out the menu before hand and spotted some things we really wanted to try – and one of them was hubby wanting to give the Chicken Tikka ($13.50) a go. Truly marinated overnight, the tandoori flavoured and yogurt-infused chicken pieces were so juicy and plump that they evoked (not in any particular order) the following statements from my carnivorous hubby: “This is so goooooood”, “Ooooh, yum”, and “wow“.
The accompanying chutney was cool and minty strong, a perfect way to balance out the chicken. And the little karcumbar salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion, and coriander – topped with a little Indian spiced dressing – was such a lovely medley of freshness, it disappeared just as quickly as the chicken! It’s not often you actually eat the side salad presented with chicken tikka, so that was a nice touch. Mukka score their first goal with the Bears! Woo-hooo!
A little to our surprise, the mains appeared next, and not the other starter I ordered. Okay, so we’re gonna eat a little out of order here, but hey, we aren’t going to turn a fresh curry back so we happily dug in. Let it be known that the Lamb Saag ($18.50) was “the best quality, most tender big chunks of lamb” Hubby Bear has ever, ever eaten at an Indian restaurant. The curry itself, all green with its spinach-y-ness, was subtle in flavour (as it usually is) but fresh and creamy, leaving the real kudos to the lamb quality.
The Matar Paneer ($14.50) was a hearty, nutty, creamy bowl of goodness with big chunks of paneer floating around in it. This tomato-based curry was well balanced with spice and one I’ll definitely order again! Mukka kick another 2 goals – looks like they’re on fire here! [enter roaring crowd sound effects here]
So, my little Pav Bhaji ($10.00) starter was late to the party and was slid in between the bowls of curry, baking tin of Garlic Naan ($3.50/serve) and bowl of Rice ($4.00/serve). So much food was on the table at this point, we could barely see the table! ha! So the Pav Bhaji was a new dish for us to try; and I was particularly excited to slather the buttered toasted buns with the dahl-sambal-ish flavoured mish-mash of veg, then throw a bit of that kachumbar salad on top too. Verdict: a very tasty way to fill up that void! We just love how Mukka are putting things like this on the menu — even if they’re old has-beens in India — they’re new to Indian restaurant menus here!
The rice was light and fluffy, as to be expected and the naan was uber-cute in it’s little baking tin — as opposed to being brought out in that classic wicker-type basket. The naan was good, but we both agreed we think they make it a little differently here — it was much more “bready” than the naan we’re used to — less stretchy and more solid. But don’t let that overshadow its tastiness, it had garlic generously smeared throughout with sprinkles of fresh coriander to boot, and was perfect to dunk into our various bowls of curries.
You know, Mukka is truly on the leading edge of a whole new breed of Indian restaurant. Finally, someone is breathing much-needed life into this sector, while others are just rehashing the same-ol’ same-ol’ in a bland way, in a boring environment. With Mukka’s refreshing differences in the menu, high standard of quality, and the on-trend fit-out (especially for Brunswick St), Prateek and his team are passionate and innovative in how they remind us why we love this cuisine so much. They remind us that it’s not just about freshness, complex flavours, or gastronomic satisfaction. It’s also about heart; about doing what you love and doing it so well that others feel it, too.
We’re looking forward to watching Prateek and his crew take the Indian food scene by storm! So if you’re into Indian cuisine or if you’ve never tried and are curious – put this one on your list, and soon!
Address: 365 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Tip! Indian is the perfect ‘sharing’ food, so if you go here with a group of friends – make sure to order a variety of dishes from different parts of the menu to get the whole picture!