D Asian, 68-82 Hopkins Street, Footscray. Phone: 8354 8387
By the time Bennie and I step through the doors of D Asia, it’s been open about six months.
Obviously, we haven’t been paying enough attention.
Though perhaps in this case, that’s something to do with the fact the restaurant isn’t on Hopkins Street proper, but rather looks out on the carpark and towards Franco Cozzo and Centrelink (into which dread office I most assuredly never wish to step foot again!).
D Asia is a typically warped idiosyncratic CTS experience.
The place is cavernous, complete with dance floor, bandstand and disco ball.
We are the only customers.
The menu is by a long way the longest I’ve ever seen – far too voluminous to photograph and publish here.
No customers, stupendously long menu?
Those are the sorts of things that normally see red flags hoisted.
But after visiting as a pair and then solo, and eating mostly well, I have to confess my curiosity about this abidingly strange and unlikely Indian restaurant remains high.
I will return to check out the many dishes of which I’ve never before heard.
With no pre-planned gameplan, Bennie and I find ourselves going happily all Indo-Chinese and all vegetarian.
The staff do the right thing by us by splitting our single serve of coriander lemon soup ($7.95) into two bowls.
It’s, um, super.
Mildly viscous in the familiar Chinese style, it’s refreshing and tangy, with tiny dice of vegetables providing crunch.
Golden fried potato ($12.95) is OK but is nothing more than battered potato stalks.
There is little or none of the advertised “marinated” factor.
This dish is, in our opinion, way over-priced.
Chilli baby corn is a much better deal at $11.95 – and a much better tasting one as well.
These are terrific flavour bombs, deep-fried and unoily.
There’s more than corn going on here, but it’s those kernals that provide the delightful “pop”.
Very, very yummy, they are.
Gobi manchurian ($10.95) is a good deal wetter than the rendition we’re familiar with from our favourite Indo-Chinese haunt.
It’s pleasant enough but no earth-shaker and is very oily.
As are our vegetable hakka noodles ($11.95), but we’d expect nothing different in a wok-tossed Indian dish.
They are fine, though, with plenty of diced and well-cooked vegetables.
On my follow-up visit, I try another Indo-Chinese dish – cutmet aloo ($4.95), which is described as “boiled potato dressed with Indian spices and served with tamarind chutney”.
Again, this is nice enough but no great shakes.
Then, just for to see what D Asia does with plain, workaday Indian food, I get a serve of mutton curry with roti ($10.95).
The fresh-cooked roti is fine.
The mutton is on the bone, and seems even more fiddly than is usually the case.
This is one of the most oily curries I’ve ever experienced.
And it’s the saltiest curry I can recall eating.
I like it a lot, though, although others’ mileage may vary!
What an enigma!
And I don’t think it’s really possible to be uncharmed by an eatery that has seven kinds of dal.
Or one that serves goat fried rice.
Or one that has 12 different soups on offer, including chicken or mutton suraba.
Or one that has a deep-fried Indo-Chinese dish call botanic vegetable.
Or one that seasons its gongura mutton with rosella leaves.
Or … well, you get the picture!