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Indu Is the New Restaurant Bringing a Taste of Sri Lanka and Southern India to the CBD

You can pair egg hoppers with spiced chai old fashioneds at this atmospheric Collins Street restaurant.
By Libby Curran
February 15, 2021
By Libby Curran
February 15, 2021

The CBD space once home to long-standing pub Collins Quarter, has had a full-blown multicultural makeover, reimagined as not one, but two new distinctly different restaurants. You already know about the Mexican-accented Mejico, which took over the northern half of the building in late 2020. Now, it's been joined by sibling Indu — a sumptuous eatery dedicated to bold Sri Lankan and southern Indian flavours, also from Sydney-born Sam Prince Hospitality Group.

Six years after the launch of Indu Sydney, founders Ian Hicks and Dr Sam Prince have reworked their concept for this Melbourne iteration, transforming the Collins Street site into a moody, atmospheric haven. It's a cosy space, with a front lounge area primed for pre-dinner drinks, an intimate dining room flanked by secluded curtained booths and terracotta pots filled with spices lending a heady aroma throughout.

The food offering sees the kitchen drawing both on Prince's own Sri Lankan heritage, and his experiences travelling and working through the regions later in life, inspired by the warmth of the locals who'd welcome him into their homes. It's an evolved take on homely village fare, featuring classic flavours, some modern technique and even a couple of long-held recipes from Prince's own mum.

Arianna Leggiero

Hoppers are a Sri Lankan staple and a must-order from this menu. One version featuring the classic pancake shell topped with a soft fried egg and ringed with pomegranate, eggplant pickle, goat's curd and a punchy coconut sambal. You'll find a cooling dish of cured kingfish, teamed with young coconut and cucumber, and crispy besan flour fritters matched with a cardamom aioli. Heartier options might include the signature Great Lamb Raan, featuring slow-cooked meat and a fresh mint chutney, a barramundi fillet bathed in a lively tamarind rasam (stock), or the pork belly curry that comes topped with shards of crackling. And you can finish just as strong, with dessert options like the vegan chocolate and cardamom mousse.

To match, a considered drinks offering stands up well to those big flavours and spicy notes. Gin reigns supreme across a selection of signature serves and G&T flights, sitting alongside a global wine list and plenty of crisp beers. Crafty cocktails include the likes of a makrut-infused mojito and a smoked chai old fashioned, though an impressive lineup of booze-free options proves just as fun, starring sips like the signature salted mango lassi.

Of course, during Melbourne's five-day snap lockdown, Indu is takeaway-only. It's serving up feasts to-go until it's allowed to reopen, which can be ordered by calling (03) 9671 4376 or emailing [email protected].

Find Indu Melbourne at 86a Collins Street, Melbourne. It's open from 12pm Monday to Friday, and from 5pm on Saturday.

Images: Arianna Leggiero

Published on February 15, 2021 by Libby Curran
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