After shuffling down Elizabeth Street a couple of hundred metres, Himalaya Pakistani & Indian Restaurant makes up for the lack of dining room windows in their new space using colourful, Indian-inspired murals.
On one wall, the Taj Mahal is swathed in fiery skies and reflected in the still water that stands at its base; while on another, four elaborately clad figures interact against a natural, leafy backdrop in shades of blue, yellow and green.
This Surry Hills restaurant is one of five outlets owned by the group, who, just like the Manjit’s group that I reviewed last week, also own a function centre that caters to Indian weddings. As the name suggests, they’re serving desi food from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora, which can broadly include Pakistan and Bangladesh. They attracted my interest with their weekday long lunches, which run until 4.30pm, making them perfect for people who never quite manage to step out of the office at the assigned lunch hour.
The Tandoori Chicken Thali ($19) is basic but covers all your lunch needs, spreading them across the compartments of a shiny, stainless-steel thali tray. Two smoky pieces of bone-in charred tandoori chook, served with green capsicum and long loops of onion, are complemented by a chicken curry of your choice. If you like heat, opt for the one labelled chicken curry rather than butter chicken. While it isn’t going to blow your head off, it’s tasty with sweet sweated onions and whole cardamom rather than cream or coconut. There’s also a soft and pliable naan sliced into quarters, rice and pappadums hiding frost green mint chutney that’s more yoghurt than it is mint.
The Lamb Thali ($19) comes in a similar format, switching out the tandoori chicken for two tubes of flavoursome seekh kebab that have also been roasted in the tandoor. They’re made from minced lamb mixed with onion, fresh herbs and spices, rolled onto metal skewers, which are pulled out before serving. The lean, well-spiced kebabs are served with a lamb curry that has had a long slow cook in a gravy with a round and balanced tomato base, until the pieces of lamb are nice and tender.
The restaurant’s main menu is also available at lunch time. Craving something with a bit more kick (everything I tried on the thali plates was very mild) I hit up Paneer Tikka Masala ($16.95). Labeled as medium-hot on the menu, the home-made cheese arrives in a dense tomato sauce broken up with sweet onion and still-crisp green capsicum that is almost sweet against the mild, lip-tingling heat. There’s a generous amount of tender, rather than chewy, cheese in this decently proportioned serve, and the dish leaves me with a satisfying aftertaste. Rather than rice, I choose to team it with a Peshwari Naan ($4.50) that has a bright orange interior stuffed with lots of fruit and coconut. It’s particularly enjoyable against cheese and the acidity of the tomato-heavy curry.
Service is variable during the day, with just one floor person, who often spends more time on their phone than they do looking after the dining room, but I suspect that would improve with more custom at night.
Himalaya Pakistani & Indian Restaurant
396 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8068 6088