Manjit’s @ The Wharf does Vindaloo Roo for Australia Day
If “vindaroo” sounds like a dish that smacks of Australia Day, the site of the new restaurant selling it tells a specific Sydney story of restaurant real estate and excess. Manjit’s @ The Wharf opened at the tail end of last year in the extremely short-lived home of the Hudson, which closed after just a few months owing $2.5 million to creditors.
With barely trodden floors and still-fresh linen, the as-new restaurant sat empty for two years before Manjit’s swept on to the site. Most thought the next operator would simply change the name and reopen with a luxe interior that was still so new it had been shortlisted for a design award.
Manjit’s general manager, Deep Gujral, says the only thing they kept was the ceiling. By the time they changed the tiered levels in the restaurant and filled the kitchen with new imported equipment, another $650,000 had been spent on one of the most over-groomed restaurant spaces in the city.
But Gujral believes the timing of the restaurant is excellent, with his family biding their time for a city spin-off although his parents opened Manjit’s in Balmain in the 1980s.
“Ten years ago Thai was everywhere, now new Indian places are opening. The food is addictive,” Gujral says. “We’re cooking things like scallops, which you don’t see in India. And my brother, Varun, has created the ‘vindaroo’ for Australia Day. There’s a real art to how he cooks the kangaroo.”