The Masterchef winner of 2018, Sashi from Adelaide opened a pop up restaurant in HWKR, Melbourne. Whilst I was super excited to try Gaja, I knew that the place will be packed and underwhelming during their first few weeks of launch. Just because not everything would run smoothly at a new kitchen etc. I experienced this with a couple new launches at HWKR, so I waited til now to try…
Did not have to wait at all on a Friday night, approx 6pm.
Beer battered cauliflower was a must-try having complimented by Gordon Ramsay during the competition. First time we tried it (left photo), the taste was “fried”. Yes, I’m stating the obvious, but it had the oily taste and not enough taste of its own flavours. The second time we tried it is was much better (right photo) – the batter was lighter and you can actually hold each stalk like chips. Can you see the difference? Love the dipping sauce.
Below is the slow braised chicken in a spicy and tomato sauce with kaffir lime leaves and coriander. Coconut rice and achar on the side. We asked Gaja to separate the red sauce as we couldn’t eat too spicy. But they only separated the rice from the chicken & sauce… not what we were expecting… haha. We wanted the sauce separated from the chicken. It had quite some heat to it. Very nice with the achar – adding freshness from all the heat. I couldn’t taste the coconut flavour in the coconut rice – it could be what it was meant to be, I’m just use to packed full of sweetness from coconut rice in thai cuisines.
The second time we visited, our friends ordered K.P.C – $16, dry roast chicken with black peppercorn, served with saffron rice and Achar. A dish that is not spicy for those who cannot take spicy food yet still want to try Sashi’s creations. It was nice, but I prefer the Bang bang red chicken and Beef Rendang dishes.
Beef Rendang is probably the best dish out of the three that we’ve tried. Spice levels were tolerable. It probably leans towards the typical Beef Rendang but a little more spice friendly. Again, we couldn’t taste the coconut flavours in the coconut rice (this was our second visit). It may well be that the spiciness was overpowering all coconut flavours in the rice. J really enjoyed this, it was about the flavours…
Overall, try it whilst Sashi is still in Melbourne, some good food, I think it got better as the team is use to the kitchen and continues to experiment with their menu. Try the Beef Rendang if you can take spice and the K.P.C if you can’t take spice. Beer Battered cauliflower is also one to try as a snack.
Location: Eq. Tower, Ground Floor, 137, A’Beckett Street, CBD, Melbourne