One of Melbourne’s hotly anticipated openings of the year, Daughter In Law promises and delivers a buzzing good time with its raft of ‘unauthentic’ Australian-Indian cuisine and crafty tipples.
Chef Restaurateur Jessi Singh is no stranger to the Melbourne’s food scene, having masterminded the conception of some of the city’s hottest dining spots (Dhaba At The Mill, Horn Please, and Babu Ji). After a brief journey seeking culinary inspiration in the United States where Singh dazzled with his award winning Babu Ji NYC and Bibi Ji Santa Barbara, Singh marked his return to Australia with the opening of Sydney’s Don’t Tell Aunty in late 2018. The Chef Restaurateur completes his homecoming to Melbourne with his latest project Daughter In Law.
True to the quirky and feel-good aesthetics of Sing’s establishments, Daughter In Law’s interior is clean cut and playful, with dusky pink walls offset by soft ambient lighting, artsy chandeliers, spherical lamps, burnished gold accoutrements, stretches of plush blue and pink velvet booths, and lattices of sleek glass windows. The dining floor is split into two sections – the main dining area and the bar-side area – comfortably accommodating 95 tipsy and very happy diners.
For guests looking to quench their thirst, the self-serve bar fridge is well-stocked with local craft brews to choose from. Browse the wine rack adjacent to the bar, where a line-up of award-winning vintages (local, new world, you name it) has been curated by sommelier Sacha Imrie (Marion Wine Bar, Builder Arms Hotel). For cocktail lovers, the restaurant’s concoctions are delightfully inventive and absolutely scrumptious. Try the Daughter In Law, a Tanqueray gin-based cocktail featuring tandoori-roasted pineapples, cardamom syrup and a spool of angel hair chilli balanced precariously atop a dehydrated orange slice.
At Daughter In Law, diners can savour ‘unauthentic’ modern Indian food inspired by Singh’s breadth of culinary experience. Expect the chef’s inventive take on Western cuisine such as beef tartare seasoned with green mango powder and paired with cumin-spiked raita, as well as refreshing twists on Indian classics such as the unauthentic butter chicken. The tastes and flavours of Singh’s childhood in India feature prominently the restaurant’s cuisine, with a variety of Indian ingredients and spices utilised in the dishes.
For starters, the balls of happiness (gol gappa) is a delightful one bite treat that will have diners coming back for more. An ubiquitous street snack in India, the pappadam ball is filled with sweet chutney and creamy yogurt. The delightful burst of sweet, sour and the slightly spicy aftertaste brings to mind blazing hot days on the bustling streets of Kolkata.
The hung yoghurt croquette is a lovely dish which features a filling of yoghurt so rich and thick you can almost chew it, speckled with carraway and cumin seed which leave a zing on your tongue. The yogurt is coated lightly with breadcrumbs, fried till golden brown and settled on a sweet and luscious beetroot-yoghurt sauce.
The centrepiece of the starters, in our opinion, is the Colonel Tso’s cauliflower. The Indo-Chinese inspired dish features crunchy and almost meaty deep fried battered cauliflower slathered in tomato-based sauce which is sweet and sour with a wallop of spice, topped with sesame seeds and microherbs.
For mains, the aussie lamb chops and grilled summer prawn are both fantastic choices. Get both for an excellent rendition of the traditional surf and turf. Both are grilled to perfection in the tandoor (North Indian clay oven), and served with pineapple butter and raita. The lamb is tender, juicy and luscious, nestled on a bed of rocket and spinach dressed simply in extra virgin olive oil. The pineapple butter cut through the fattiness while the raita accentuates the depth of flavours.
Freshly line-caught off the coast of Queensland, the deep sea prawn is slow roasted in the tandoor, sealing in all its natural flavours. Sweet and succulent with a touch of brininess, the prawn is beautifully matched with the tangy and spicy pineapple butter, and the earthy raita.
For larger groups looking to sample in a myriad of the culinary highlights of Daughter In Law, ask for the Thali platter – an upsized version of the restaurant’s midweek lunch special. Fluffy and crisp naan bread accompany fun-sized portions of gingery and garlicky unauthentic butter chicken, nutty and delicious coconut prawn, and slow-cooked Kashmiri-style lamb rojan josh. The pork neck vindaloo is piquant with a delightful kick of spice, a lovely counterbalance to the comforting and familiar vegan yellow dhal and the refreshing raita. Our favourite is the Punjabi Kadhi – a turmeric yogurt curry with parcels of crisp kale fritters.
Daughter In Law
37 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne City
T: (+61) 392 420 814
Prices $$$ upscale
Cuisine Unauthentic Australian Indian
Verdict We’d come back time and time again for the excellent Colonel Tso’s cauliflower. Our wishlist for our next visit includes the whole market tandoori fish and the chili margarita naan pizza.