THE AJRAK RESTAURANT, Fremantle
by JENNY D’ANGER:
Greasy fish and chips at the old Domenic’s on Hampton Road have been consigned to the deep fryer of history, with Ajrak emerging as Fremantle’s latest Indian restaurant.
It brings to six the number of port city sub-continentals within a couple of kilometres of each other: this one’s point of difference is its blend of Pakistani and Indian cuisine.
The decor hasn’t changed since the Domenic’s days and is pretty basic, brightened by some Pakistani bling on the walls.
A gruelling day at the office, nothing much in the fridge nor much inclination to cook if there had been, and the brightly coloured facade caught my eye.
Pretty soon I was on my way again, mouth watering as the aroma of a chana (chickpea) masala ($13), vegetable curry ($12), a biryani ($12) and some garlic naan ($4) permeated the car.
We were back the following week to further test the flavours of northern India/Pakistan.
D’Angerous Dave is a fan of mango lassi and Ajrak’s version was given a resounding 9 out of 10 (he doesn’t believe in giving anything 10/10 as it keeps them keen to improve): the thick, creamy yoghurt drink’s sharpness was perfectly tempered by the mango’s sweetness.
While everything else seemed ridiculously cheap we did think $10.50 for onion bhajia entree was on the steep side—until they arrived.
The fritters were huge and quite different from those eaten previously: more dense, while still crisp and crunchy on the outside, with a moist and delicious onion centre.
They’d no sooner disappeared than we were wolfing down a fish masala ($20), daal makhini ($14), vegetable biryani and naan.
We’ve eaten a fair bit of biryani over the years, being rather partial to the popular Indian rice dish, but the addition of fresh mint really lifted this to new heights.
The fish masala was delicious, the sauce richly flavoured with tomato and spices, but was a bit light on for fish, I thought. There may be plenty more fish in the sea but I’d like to see more in my masala, thanks.
The black lentil daal was great, with its secret blend of spices, plus tomato, ginger, garlic and coriander, and a hint of cream.
Purely in the interests of research we ordered a couple of kulfis ($4.50). My pistachio ice cream was beautifully flavoured and uber-creamy, while D’Angerous preferred the sweet, almost sorbet texture and taste of the mango.
I reckon this Indian eatery is going to be a welcome addition for those living nearby: it may not be silver service but for value for money you won’t go wrong dropping into Ajrak.
The Ajrak Restaurant
95 Hampton Rd, Fremantle
Phone 9335 7251
open Tues–Sun from 5pm