TV host and Richmond local Andy Lee rates Jai Ho in Swan St as his favourite local Indian restaurant.
The reason is self-evident. It offers authentic, full-on flavours with a northern Indian focus, as well as featuring some classic southern dishes. Meats are tender and succulent, with sauces that linger, enticingly, on the palate.
Servings are large and the prices more than moderate, considering the quality of the food. Most mains hover around the $21-$23 mark (prawns around $24) and entrees between $8.50 and $19.00.
The interior is spacious and inviting, although a little eclectic. Around the walls, homage is paid to the two main religions of India, Hinduism and cricket, with a portrait of Sachin Tendulkar perched triumphantly over diners as if they were flayed fieldsmen.
It is not a fine dining restaurant - and that is a good thing, as it is all about the food. You would not take your fiancée there to propose, but you would gather a group of good friends or family to share a flavourful array of finely prepared, inexpensive dishes.
The comprehensive menu is laden with traditional dishes and some with a twist, meaning it is preferable to dine in a group of more than two.
We were torn between a number of dishes, including the Malabar Prawn Curry ($23.90) - Tiger prawns simmered in southern spices, mustard seeds and curry leaves - and Eggplant Beef ($20.90), slow-cooked in a clay pot.
In the end, we went for a shared entrée of Spicy Tandoori Prawns ($18.50), which were as described, but still juicy and tender. We followed with two mains, Chilli Chicken ($20.90) and, a personal favourite, Lamb Saag ($20.90). The chicken had been stirred fried with mixed peppers and onions, with the onion providing a slight sweetness to balance the heat.
The lamb in the saag was melt-in-the-mouth We had asked for medium, but it carried a bit more heat than we expected. It is worth bearing in mind when ordering.