Sydney’s multiculturalism is a wellestablished fact, and nowhere is this more evident than in the variety of cuisines available to cater to every discerning palate. As a ‘Foodie’ with a penchant for Indian cuisine, I have often traversed the many suburbs and laneways of the city to discover quality food that stands apart from the run of the mill “Butter Chicken’, ‘Beef Vindaloo’ and ‘Kofta curry’ – which are the signature dishes of most Indian restaurants! Indian with a difference! – that is the cuisine I was after, and I did not have to look far…
Nestled in the quiet, convenient and leafy suburb of Thornleigh is O’Bombay – a restaurant that prides itself on excellence in variety and tradition. As I walked into the restaurant, I was immediately struck by the large wall mural which encompasses the many aspects that form the heartbeat of the city of Mumbai (previously known as Bombay). This is indeed very clever as my eyes kept wandering over the many twists and turns in this interesting mural, and I did not exactly count the passage of time between placing my order and its delivery (the service was actually pretty efficient). The restaurant advertises itself on catering to ‘street food’ for which Mumbai is well known, and the Pani Puri cart is a testimonial to this very famous food, which I am told, is available at practically every street corner and junction in Mumbai, on mobile carts and in fixed spots. This quintessential delicacy comprises small, crisp wheat balls ‘puris’ gently stuffed with chickpeas and dipped in the ‘pani’ (sweet and tangy), to be then popped into your mouth and savoured. I found that not only is this food enticingly different, but there is a certain delight in the process too, as the mix and match service of the pani and the puri was expertly performed right before my eyes.
Coming to my quest for a restaurant with a difference, what sets O’Bombay apart, is its promotion of food festivals that cater to the diverse food from the many regions in India. The recently concluded ‘Malvani Food Festival’ was a triumph of sorts. I had the privilege of partaking of this Malvani food, and if I was looking for ‘cuisine with a difference’, I was indeed in the right setting. As Parag Jaykar – Chef & Partner explained, ‘the authenticity of our food lies in the fact that the recipes have been handed down to us from our mothers and grand-mothers, and such a traditional base leads to the preparation of dishes which have stood the test of time in any form’.
Jaykar further adds that ‘ in preparing these Malvani dishes in time-tested tradition, the food is flavoursome and wholesome, and this is my ode to my mother who has been my inspiration, my teacher and my mentor, and what she has taught me, I could never have imbibed from any University or Hospitality College’. The Festival, which was scheduled for 30 days, had to be extended by a further 20 days due to customer demands over the phone and on social media. If this is not validation of taste and flavour, what is?’ Jaykar also confesses that ‘while this is a sterling compliment for us, it has also meant that other planned festivals have had to be rescheduled’.
The next Food Festival is the Punjabi (North Indian cuisine) Festival, where uncommon dishes from the interiors of Punjab and Haryana will be showcased. This uniqueness will suit all palates and of course, you have the ever smiling and helpful staff to take you through the ingredients and the history of every dish.
I even had the pleasure of sampling some of the other dishes in the O’Bombay menu. The Goat special curry was a gastronomical delight. Having never sampled goat meat before, I wasn’t sure what to expect…The dish in front of me looked aesthetically inviting, and the succulent pieces of meat in a delicately spicy, albeit mild, sauce has made this dish a standout one for me. Many other Mumbai street foods like Dahi Batata Puri and Ragda Pattice, I was informed, are high on the list of client favourites. The clientele at the restaurant has many white Australians patronising its doors, with many even queueing up at the Pani-puri cart!
O’Bombay is open from 5.30 pm-9.30 pm on weekdays, and is also open for lunch on the weekends. There is parking available for restaurant patrons at the back of the restaurant building. The restaurant, I discovered, has beautifully amalgamated courtesy and care into its cuisine – and this, by any yard stick of measure is a winning combination.
Visit O’Bombay once, and you will be drawn back again. Located at 280 Pennant Hills Rd Thornleigh, NSW, Australia 2120. Call 8924 2364. facebook/obombay