Gone are the days when the man ruled the kitchen. Now, it’s much more exciting to see a strong, bold powerful woman head of the show.
Executive chef Manpreet Sekhon is exactly that. Not forgetting her roots, this humble, modestly spoken matriarch came from northern towns of India, where she learnt the traditional styles of home cooking. Fast forward a relocation to Australia and 3 ventures later, including one in Geelong, her passion has led to her success with the latest restaurant in the heart of the CBD. Here she shares her outstanding Indian food with a contemporary and theatrical spin.
Elchi, meaning ‘talented person’, or ambassador, holds true to its name. Occupying what once was the Press Club, then Elektra, it’s retained the stunning regal interior, with a gold, shinny roof, and plush tan leather booths. The fit out is sleek yet inviting. Hospitality is warm and genuine, and the fusion feel is instantly captivating. Start off with a pink lady. A delightful combination of gin, hibiscus, and a tartiness from the pomegranate. Small bites include the Duck Lukhumi, pulled pieces of game encased in a crunchy pastry, with a silky fragrant green sauce. Its aromatic spices tickle your tongue gently without overpowering. ‘Not your average chicken tikka’, is a spectacle.
Arriving in a cloud of nitrogen smoke, the glass cabinet is lifted off, and inside, lays a beautiful, tender piece of bird bursting in its tikka flavours. Its juicy, sweet caramel chilli notes balance harmoniously with a tangy tomato chilli sauce. Suck on a cute aromatic adults icy pole, (Elchi’s clever and refreshing palate cleanser) to lead the way to their signature dishes. Rich and tender Kashmiri lamb Rogan Josh can be piled onto a cardamom rice biryani’s topped with a crisp pastry shell. Inhaling the wonderful spices that permeate from these dishes make your stomach do somersaults of excitement. If you think you didn’t have room for dessert, you very quickly re-evaluate, Once again a feast for the eyes, 70% chocolate vahlorona rum ball is basking in liquid chocolate and lit on fire at your very table, with glistening flamey rum. The theatrics of this dish officially transforms your culinary dinner into sell out magic performance, and you have the best seat in the house.Manpreet’s innovative and inspiring interpretation of traditional Indian food in her latest Winter menu is an exemplary demonstration of why Melbourne is just so lucky. Standing ovation to the woman, the Elchi, running the show.