Urban Tadka is the complete package, which can be rare when it comes to Sydney’s Indian restaurants. Interesting booze, good food, a nice room with atmosphere, and attentive service - they have all their bases covered. Even the green belt location in Terrey Hills proves to be no deterrent to people flocking in for a family lunch, with the car park moving into overflow parking on the Sunday I dined.
Despite the lure of the nicely lit Tadka bar and its colourful lounge seating, we opt to head straight to our table.
It’s set on the sunny side of the extensive dining room, against windows that look out onto their garden.
Along with our drinks – an on-tap Kingfisher ($9) and the old school, buttery Lake Breeze Reserve Chardonnay ($15/glass) from Langhorne Creek, South Australia – our Pappadums ($10.50) arrive quickly. They’re arranged in a paper cone with a tray of colourful condiments, and should clue you in that modern presentation is another strong focus at Urban Tadka.
We beat the day’s heat with Fresh Lime Soda ($5.50) offered here in either salty and sweet. We find the salty version quite intriguing - perfect for those cutting out sugary drinks. Also harmonising with the day's warm weather, Zatar Lasooni Jhinga ($21.90) updates the oft-bland prawn cocktail by presenting five tandoor-smoked, baked and shelled king prawns dangling from the rim of a martini glass. The super-smoky crustaceans are accompanied by an undressed salad that manages to impress regardless, through the use of quality ingredients like fresh, peppery radishes and eyecatching loops of golden beetroot.
Kurkuri Chat ($12.90) is another perfect hot-weather dish, where a tower of crisp fried wheat wafers are drizzled with yoghurt and tamarind then dusted with mint, sour mango powder and gleaming magenta pomegranate arils. We playfully extract crisps in a game of dining room Jenga until a tower collapse means we can get at the nicely spicy chickpea and mashed potato base. While this dish would be fun for a group, it’s a perhaps one-idea gag, meaning I got a bit bored before we got through all the crackers.
My palate was reengaged with a trip to coastal India with Scallops Mumbai Tadka ($32.90). With whole lychees intermingling with gently cooked premium scallops, this dish feels like it should be presented on a banana leaf rather than eaten with rice as a curry. Big juicy bursts from lightly scorched cherry tomatoes and plentiful fresh shallots add to the dish’s fresh, summery feel.
We team it with Pork Konkan ($25.90), a dish that originates from neighbouring Goa. It’s a wet, almost soupy curry, dominated by bright tomato, lots of acidity and vinegar. Garnished with crisp curry leaves, it’s simple and linear, with good creeping heat on the back palate against the lean pork fillet.
For a wine match that will perform well against it, look to the Partisan Trenchcoat Grenache-Shiraz-Mouvedre ($13) from South Australia's McLaren Vale. While the peppery Shiraz and savoury Mouvedre definitely lead, you’ll get the promised Grenache fruit sweetness when you consume it with the spicy pork curry.
Personable owner Inder Dua pops by my table to explain that adding on a range of high quality Western-style desserts have kicked up Urban Tadka to the next level. Dua is quick to add: “you can also just get a gulab jamun if you want one.” Inder rustles up us a dessert platter that showcases his Bailey’s Orange and Praline Tart ($16.90) and his Mango and Coconut Savarin ($15.90) against two little shots of Bailey’s topped with warm gulab jamun, which see hot and cold, Western and Eastern flavours mingle in your mouth.
Our desserts are arranged on a painter's palette with imported French chocolate leaves in mint and cranberry. While I’m more of a straight gulam jamun type myself, there’s no doubting the quality of the short crust chocolate pastry, crunchy praline base filled with Bailey’s and orange Callebaut milk chocolate under a gleaming cocoa mirror glaze, or the totally gluten-free rasberry topped savarin. Both will undoubtedly win fans from the hoards that flock to this surprising Indian destination that ticks all the boxes in Terrey Hills.
321 Mona Vale Road, Terrey Hills
Ph: (02) 9986 1040
NOTE: See a previous review for this venue back HERE.