Culinary Maestro Opel Kahn treats us to a taste of his Bengali upbringing with the arrival of Khanaa in Surry Hills.
Chef Opel Kahn of the whimsical Metisse in Potts Point has gone and done it again. By it, we mean adding another distinctive restaurant to Sydney’s dining scene. His latest venture Khanaa focuses on bringing the flavours of Bengali cuisine to Sydney as a homage to his heritage. This is a celebration of family and familiarity, designed to showcase his childhood memories through each plate. But in true Opel style, it’s done in a surprising and refined way.
Khanaa sits on Crown Street in Surry Hills, right next door to Bills. It seems swanky from the outside with glass windows allowing you to watch chefs and diners like performance art. Step inside and you’ll find it’s an unpretentious setting where staff welcome you like friends and there’s the constant hum of good conversations throughout the restaurant.
The space itself is quite minimal with modern furnishings in tones of black, grey, and white. It feels like a showroom but this is contrasted by a buzzing atmosphere of guests talking across round tables and chefs working in unison in the open-style kitchen. An amazing touch is that Opel himself delivers dishes to tables, giving you a unique opportunity to chat with the creator and gain insight into each dish and his inspirations.
Helping to execute the mission is Chef Lucina Khan, his 23-year-old daughter who has an incredible trajectory in the food world, as well as Chef Jazz Singh. The dishes are refined in presentation, as you can expect from Opel, but the flavours are comforting to represent true Bengali cuisine. What we also love about the menu is that it’s entirely gluten-free, which is an extremely rare scenario in Sydney. This is a testament to Opel’s commitment to providing accessible and approachable dining experiences.
To further attest to this, the dishes can be picked at your leisure from an a la carte menu. If you want to go all out, we highly recommend the 9-dish Tasting Menu for $195 per person which will leave you dining over a couple of hours. What we loved about this experience was the pause in between each course which allowed you to really commemorate each dish and continue your conversations while dining with minimal interruptions.
Memorable dishes from the beginning of the meal were the rich and flavourful Duck Leg Confirm Samosa served in a perfectly crispy buckwheat pastry and the Kaccha Tuna which featured thinly sliced pieces of tuna laid out on the plate with scallops and mini watermelon cubes for pops of sweetness. Opel delivered this and drizzled on a beautifully rich olive oil that brought it all together with an element of table theatre.
For those that love the rich flavours of meat, the Paya was truly sensational featuring bone marrow and ox tail consommé, as well as the Sticky Beef Shortribs which fell off the bone and melted in your mouth with aloo bhorta, blood orange and saltbush.
The sommelier is on hand each night to help you navigate the drinks list. They’re tenacious in helping you find the perfect cocktail, wine or spirit to suit your taste preference. We loved that the menu heroes some of Australia’s best producers.
While Opel’s restaurant Metisse might be someone where you go for special occasions, Khanaa is somewhere to come back to time and time again. A fantastic addition to Surry Hills!