Surry Hills has scored a new, creatively charged culinary hot-spot, with acclaimed chef Jessi Singh opening the doors to his 'unauthentic Indian' restaurant Don't Tell Aunty. In the space once home to the Colin Fassnidge's hatted 4Fourteen, Singh's latest venture sees him returning Down Under after a few years in the States, heading up NYC's Babu Ji and Californian spin-off Bibi Ji.
Back in Surry Hills, he has teamed up with restaurateur, Amar Singh (Melbourne's Horn Please and Dhaba at the Mill) to open his first Sydney outpost. This latest venture is inspired by the welcoming homes of traditional (yet, slightly eclectic) Indian aunties — complete with blue velvet banquettes and bright pink walls — but food does not stick to the rules. Instead, innovation is the hero, as Singh sticks to his signature envelope-pushing approach. As he'll tell you, "there's no ghee or oil in the curry, there's whiskey in the chai and the men do the cooking".
An oft-changing menu trips all across India, with touches of Aussie and American influence peppered throughout. Street eats might include the likes of Colonel Tso's Indo-Chinese-style cauliflower with tomato and chilli; the 'Yoghurt Kebab', featuring a spiced yoghurt croquette in a vibrant beetroot ginger sauce; and the nachos-like papadi chaat. The tandoor is turning out dishes like charred local fish with ginger honey sauce, and there's a slew of crafty curries, including the short rib korma and a coconut cashew gravy. Head in for lunch, and you can snag a super affordable $10 canteen-style selection of curries and street food.
Meanwhile, Rajat Parr — an international winemaker and sommelier Singh met while in the USA — has worked his magic on the drinks offering. Watch retro Bollywood films flicker on the walls, while tucking into drops from the self-serve beer fridge, approachable wines from around the world, and lively cocktails like the namesake Don't Tell Aunty — a concoction of mezcal and beetroot rimmed with black lava salt.