If you follow Melbourne’s Indian food scene, this is pretty big news. The guys from Babu Ji in St Kilda have opened a very spicy sister restaurant.
It’s called Elichi, pronounced 'Eh-lychee' (it's Punjabi for ‘Cardamom’), and it’s popped up on Bluff Road in Black Rock.
This isn’t the first adventure for the popular brand, of course. They also opened up Piquancy in Hawthorn last year (which was freaking delicious btw).
When we heard the guys were back with a third venue, we raced over there to check it out, knife and fork in hand, napkin flapping in the wind. And we’re happy to say, Elichi lived up to expectations.
If you’re a fan of Babu Ji’s off-beat approach, you’ll like this one. It’s a contemporary spin on Indian cuisine—one part traditional family recipes from owner Mani Wariach, and two parts zany, Wonka-style invention (courtesy of head chef Punit Fernandes). Where else in Melbourne are you going to find Brussel sprouts with roast coconut and curry leaves? Or a Darjeeling chai brûlée?
Start with a few nibbles from the ‘Street Tour’ menu. We were really digging the Mushroom ke Kebab with coriander relish and parmesan crisps, and the paneer tikka with sumac practically makes your tongue tingle.
For mains, there’s your cliché Butter Chicken (although this one is chef’d up with fenugreek and plenty of cardamom). We advise skipping the safe stuff and heading straight for crispy Channa Palak with homemade cottage cheese, or fig and cauliflower ‘Gobi Kofta’ dumplings with tomato and almond milk.
Of Wariach’s three restaurants, Elichi feels the most upmarket. The fit-out is sleek and modern (lots of black leather, blonde timber and charcoal tones). There’s none of Babu Ji’s playfulness, but that’s okay. Elichi is targeting a slightly different crowd—Black Rock locals who are tired of bog-standard fish and chips (or dodgy Indian takeaway).
One last tip: save room for the signature Elichi cheesecake, kicked up with Old Monk rum and pineapple sorbet. That thing’s lethal.
Image credit: Sammy Green