Where do you go in Perth to find great Indian cuisine? These days Perth is your oyster actually, because there are Indian restaurants popping up everywhere. Whilst they are not all created equal, there are some excellent restaurants serving authentic and delicious food.
Situated in Innaloo, Agni Fine Cuisine has been a stalwart in Perth for years, but it’s been several years since I visited. A Dimmi special of 50% off the price of food had me champing at the bit, and it didn’t take much to persuade a group of four friends to come with me.
To get us in the mood we chose a few starters, beginning with Vegetable Samosas. The potato and pea samosas were flavourful, mild and not oily.
Tandoori dishes are always a big drawcard for me – I love the smoky flavour, and that seared-in succulence that is impossible to duplicate in your home oven. The other big plus is that in addition to tasting so darn good, it’s a lot healthier than many Indian dishes. Low on fat but full on flavour. Three of our five had decided on sharing so we could experience a range of dishes, and we chose two Tandoori dishes to complete our starters.
The Tandoori Prawns were probably the disappointment of the evening as they were a bit dry and could have done with a few minutes less in the oven. They were served with a smooth mint chutney and a cucumber raita. The Chicken Tikka however, was juicy, tender and cooked perfectly.
Our other two friends opted to share the Royal Mixed Platter with a bit of everything: samosas, pakoras, (lamb) seekh kebab, chicken tikka, barra kebab. This was a huge serving for two gals and accompanied by some bread and rice, they were so full they didn’t need any mains.
We other three selected a main dish each, plus some Roti Bread and Biryani Rice. Yes, it was a lot of food but we wanted to sample as many different dishes as possible. And we knew that one any leftovers would be going home in a doggie bag, so there was no issue there.
The Goan Fish Curry was my favourite; a creamy coconut flavoured dish with fleshy white chunks of fish. Delicious. Delectable. You get the picture.
The vegetarian Malai Kofta Curry was pleasant and mild, but I’ve had so many versions of this dish over the years and they never reach the heights I anticipate. On a visit to Kolkatta a few years back I experienced a version of this dish that was amazing – made with potatoes and paneer and cashews and with the creamiest, tastiest sauce ever – I was stuffed but kept eating as I felt it would be a sacrilege to waste any. I guess any country’s cuisine will taste better at the point of origin, right? We can spend our lives eating and searching out for the tastes and flavours that we remember from our trips, but it’s unlikely we’re going to enjoy quite the same experience at home. Whilst we can enjoy wonderful food experiences, they are unlikely to reach the same culinary heights.
The ubiquitous Butter Chicken. Is this the most ordered Indian dish ever? I can barely remember a meal at an Indian restaurant where someone hasn’t ordered this dish. I enjoy it, but I guess it’s a bit run-of-the-mill for me. I love Chicken Vindaloo, but try finding someone who wants to try a curry flavoured with vinegar. Any takers? Anyhoo, this version of Butter Chicken was tender and tasty, with tomato, tandoor and cream flavours marrying well together.
Roti bread was served with our meal and was flaky and crispy, and perfect, really. I just love the Indian breads – I’ve made many hundreds of parathas over the years but I’m a bit lazy these days and prefer to just order them when I eat out. Or (shock, gasp) buy the frozen packets in the Asian grocery stores.
The service at Agni was exceptional, and we left our gorgeous waitress a generous tip. Nothing was too much trouble, and despite us getting a bargain basement meal, she was genuinely engaging and helpful. The chef even came out to say hello and to get our opinions of the meal. Our waitress told us the buffets at Agni are amazing, and at $39.50 for all you can eat from Thursday to Sunday nights, they are excellent value.
Even without our generous discount, the dishes at Agni were reasonably priced, plus you can BYO wine. With ample parking below the restaurant, an interesting and eclectic menu, delicious food and above-par service; what more could you wish for on a cold wintry night in Perth?