Contemporary Indian restaurants Babu Ji and Piquancy are about to get another stylish sibling when Elichi (meaning cardamom in Punjabi) opens in Black Rock in mid-August.
The vibrancy and versatility of Indian cuisine was brought to the forefront in Melbourne by Mani Wariach of St Kilda’s Babu Ji and Hawthorn’s Piquancy, where local produce is the hero in dishes that pack a punch. Elichi will follow the same ethos, also serving up some of their classics, as well as new additions:
Roasted Jerusalem artichoke chaat – fried curry leaf, garlic labne and herb oil,
Jangalee mushroom kebab – wild mushroom, goats cheese, and parmesan pappadum,
Podi spiced calamari with pickled onion, shaved fennel and curry leaf aioli,
Tandoori chicken with baby sprouts, young carrot and yoghurt emulsion,
Otway pork vindaloo with sugarcane vinegar and red masala, truffle naan bread and sweet treats like the Gulab Jamun tart and of course, Elichi cheesecake.
The name Elichi (pronounced Eh-lychee) was chosen due to its unfamiliarity. Similar to Piquancy, it doesn’t automatically make people think of an Indian venue, because like its siblings, it’s not your typical Indian restaurant. Dishes have been carefully created, paying homage to Mani’s family recipes, with a contemporary edge and the use of ingredients not usually associated with Indian food. Guests can come in and enjoy the likes of the Brussel sprouts with roasted coconut and curry leaf and the Darjeeling chai brulee with rhubarb and ginger compote, or opt for classics such as dal makhani and butter chicken with homemade naan and aged rice. Cardamom is also a staple ingredient in everyday Indian cooking as well as in the Elichi homemade chai blend.
Mani chose the location in Black Rock due to the beautiful surrounds and for their head chef Punit Fernandes, who is from the coastal city of Mumbai, India. Punit fell in love with local ingredients when he previously worked at Rockpool and Crown and was also a finalist for the 2016 San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year Award.
Mani said: “We will be focusing on local ingredients with Indian flavours, there will be a modern approach to food while keeping traditional flavours in mind. There will also be gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly options. Elichi will be very fresh produce and seasonally driven.”
Also joining the Elichi team is Sanjay Bista as front of house manager. Originally from Nepal, Sanjay came to Australia in 2007 to study commercial cooking and went on to work for Koko Black for six years. Moving on to the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto for four years, Sanjay is excited to now welcome guests dining at Elichi.
Elichi will seat 70 guests with a separate Chester lounge area complete with fireplace, perfect for patrons waiting for a table or just coming for a drink or snacks. Mani added: “As always, we want to create a friendly home away from home for our locals where they can always expect a delicious meal in a cosy and welcoming space.”
6/8 Bluff Road, Black Rock