There may be no manuals to be a perfect daughter in law but Jesse Singh and his team come remarkably close with their newly launched Indian cuisine restaurant in the heart of Melbourne city.
After successfully operating Babu Ji and Horn Please in Melbourne and Don’t Tell Aunty in Sydney, Jesse Singh has opened this new fun place that is gastronomically promising. From his newest venture, cheekily named Daughter In Law (DIL), you can expect a well-rounded culinary experience that is layered with distinct and palpable flavors and genuine warmth to win hearts.
No table-side theatrics, no kitschy décor and no promises of authentic Indian food, sets this restaurant in Little Bourke Street, apart from others. From its rose pink walls, blue-green velvet seats, large plant pots to massive entertainment screen, the fit out at DIL is uncomplicated with a quirky aesthetic appeal.
We walked in to the welcome sight of a well-equipped bar. The men went straight for their single malts while we tried the innovative cocktails and chose from the wine list curated by Sacha Imrie from Marion Wine.
Jesse Singh joined us, graciously posed for photos on special request and happily responded to our curiosity. Why unauthentic? Why the name Daughter in Law? We asked.
“What exactly is authentic Indian?” he asked us in return. “For most of us, authentic Indian is the food that our mothers and grandmothers cooked and it can be so diverse,” he continued.
“My Punjabi mother will cook the same thing vastly different to yours so our ‘authentic’ may not be the same. That is why I say unauthentic Indian on the door to set the expectation right from the beginning,” said Jesse.
According to Jesse, the name Daughter In Law is a tribute to the young women who get married and leave their homes and family to become part of another. They are brave as they adopt and adapt to their new household and new relationships. “They are accepting of the new traditions, culture and rules. At the same time they bring their own flavors to this equation. They can be creative and experimental and that’s what we stand for,” shared Jesse.
True to claim, DIL’S honest, flavour-driven menu is carefully crafted to include Punjabi curries and Mumbai street food on one hand and Beef Tartare and Scallop Ceviche on the other.
There is Blue Cheese naan to wake things up and Colonel Tso’s Cauliflower that has both crunch and tang. A vivid and varied thali gives a taste of different options. So does the tasting menu.
The secret is house-roasted spices, no shortcuts and quality ingredients, according to Jesse. “Our chefs make and source everything themselves, every sauce, every bread, every marinade is made in house,” he claimed with pride.
Scrumptious grilled prawns from the famed Santa Maria Grill, oysters in green mango pickle followed by Tandoori corn peppered with popcorn, the food kept coming till we were ready to burst.
Finally, the Beetroot juice with Mezcal and black salt provided some much needed unction. I could happily drink this for supper, or dessert, or breakfast if that were an option. Perfect for my iron deficiency. And just as we thought we couldn’t stomach another morsel, we were tempted with stick wali creamy kulfi and Rabdi thrumming with decadence.
I completely retracted my earlier statement that the single piece of golgappa (“Ball of Happiness” that lives up to its name) was a rather stingy serve. Given the variety that we tried it was just right in portion, as a teaser.
On my first visit I couldn’t fault anything in terms of service, food, atmosphere or music (loved the 70s Hindi pop songs). Some in our large group found the prices a bit steep, but the overall consensus was that it was good value for money.
I sincerely hope that this place continues offering a quality experience even after its opening months. In the meantime, I will definitely be returning for some more Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi Mein Aye and Rambha Ho Ho!