Akshaya, 1/578 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 8394 9713
We may be prone to speculate about when or if the West Footscray stretch of Barkly Street will reach Indian restaurant saturation point.
And we certainly don’t feel obliged to check out, let alone write about, each new arrival.
But when a new place goes the ultra-cheap “street food” route – we’re there!
Akshaya is a sister restaurant to the warmly regarded establishment of the same name in Ashley Street.
But here the focus is quite different – with the spick and span new outfitting reflecting the budget cafe-style menu (see below).
There’s chat dishes, dosas and idlys and vadas, some Indo-Chinese, a few other things of interest … all vegetarian.
Bhel puri ($4.99) is OK and fully fresh enough, but lacks a little in the zing department for my tastes. But then, it just about always does. Maybe bhel puri simply isn’t for me or I keep hoping it will be something it isn’t.
My thali ($9.99) is way better.
I’m told the fundamental difference between the joint’s north Indian and south Indian thalis is rotis (with the former) and rice (with the latter).
The rice with my south Indian thali is excellent.
It’s basically a pulao studded with nice spud bits. But with its mint, cinnamon and other spices, it comes across as a sort-of vegetable biryani.
The sambol – heavily spiced with corianader – and tomato chutney are as you’d commonly find with a dosa meal and are fine.
The vegetable curry also has potato among the other vegetables. It’s oily and delicious.
The crumbed okra looks like it may an Indian take on the Korean popcorn fried thing.
It’s not – the lady finger pieces are tender and not at all crunchy.
But they’re beaut, packed with okra flavour and go nicely with the really thick dollop of yogurt.
On the basis of this preliminary meal at the brand new Akshaya, I’d caution that spice levels here are high.
Not uncomfortably so for me, but in the above thali only the okra and yogurt escape intense spicing.
Bravo for Akshaya for developing a different angle on what is a very competitive strip.