Now before I come to the actual review, a bit about history. Being here for 4-5 years, there have been many many tasting sessions in the taste if the actual Indian taste, similar to what we get in India. I must say Indian food presence in Australia is remarkable. Even in a small sleepy town of cessnock, there was an Indian restaurant.
While the presence is amazing and widespread, however looking at the target audience being mostly westeners, the Indian enterpreneurs are having a ball.
While most Indian restaurants are in the regular eat outs for a casual evening from a pricing perspective, most of them abuse the Indian food by either making it too coloured, too spicy or at time too mild and sweet to appease the palates of aussie clientele. Infact one place went on to having a live belly dance in the restaurant. I pity the aussie clientele, who out of naiveness or ignorance may think INdia is in the middle east. Of course it is another mattet that the belly dancer was an old flabby 40 year old lady who probably made sure in letting the smart people know that this could only be done by an indian. Having said that there is definitely booming business for Indian food. In a place like Sydney, where there are hundreds of restaurants for Indian food, this is one of the best places for Indian food.
Ironically for many years I didnt go to zaafraan thinking it was stereotyped and expensive. I was a promoter of Nilgiris but once I had food in zaafraan, it was amazing.
Zaafraan is in Darling Harbor in the Harborside mall. Situated on the first floor, it has seating inside in the restaurant or outside overlooking the harbour. sually the view from the balcony is amazing and on a good day, its piceless to sit in the balcony, watch the sun set and then see the city lights twinkling in the water as reflections. If you have fireworks, it even better.
You may need to have a reservation prior to reaching the venue as it does get busy once in a while.
Coming to the food, theres a wide variety. The chicken tikkas are highly recommended. Undoubtedly the best in Sydney I have had so far. Delicate morsel of spiced and marinated chiken grilled and served to perfection with avocado dip and mint sauce. I have tried the machli amritsar barramundi starter, but not to my liking. A few veg starters are also good, although if I were there, I'd probably not go for veg but thts only a preference. Ive tried the gol guppa and the aloo tikki chaat and thats great as well. The prawn starters are good as well. The peshawari seekh kebabs and the chaampein are about average.
In the main course, well the butter chicken is just amazing and out of the world. The best in sydney. Being a delhi-ite, this has been a journey in search of the best butter chicken. In the last four years, I have played the role of the christian missionary doing the white mans role, preaching the cheating conniving or the naive Indian restaurant waiters and owners how misguided they are and that the butter chicken they dish out is far from reality. It went to the extent of heated arguements, sending the dish back to the kitchen for modification and then finally I gave up. I gave up eating butter chicken all together in Sydney as a mark of protest. Although, I am sure no one noticed my protest but I still carried on till zaafraan.
The goat curry has been about average. The goat was a bit chewy and i wasnt quite sure if it was goat or lamb. The prawn curry is simply a butter chicken gravy with prawns. So I wouldnt order that again.
The biryani is the next item which is out of the world. Now biryani is another of those abused dishes across the world and the true connoseiur knows that there many variants. In India itself, the variants are yakhni biryani from kashmir, lucknavi biryani at tundes from awadh, hyderabadi biryani from nizaam and then the commercial versions here and there. At Zaafraan, I came acriss a new variant which to be honest, I havent had in India. It comes as copper handi sealed with dough. As you remove the cover of the dough, the biryani rice out of the baasmati is long grains and slightly creamish in colour. As you take a spoonful, theres rice on top and the chicken below. Not too spiced, but this biryani has a very buttery taste. The chicken are cooked with a slight gravy. Simply put, the biryani is awesome and a mst have.
To end it on a sweetnote, I ordered the gulaab jaamuns but they were pathetic. You could easily make out that they were made from the ready to cook Gits version. Not good at all.
Service is good, although at times when it gets very busy, you may be looking for a waiter to respond to you with a lot of wait.
All in all, highly recommended place.
Average price of meal for two AUD 50-100.
Level 2, 10 Darling Drive Harbourside Centre Darling Harbour 2000 NSW Australia
Lunch 7 days 12pm - 2.30pm*
Dinner Sun - Thu 6.00pm - 9.30pm*
Fri & Sat 6.00pm - 10.15pm*
(02) 9211 8900