PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Woolloomooloo is an area synonymous with refined, sophisticated dining – a fact faithfully confirmed by the first venue on its famed waterside strip. Residing luxuriously in a heritage building on finger wharf, Aki's Indian Restaurant looks out onto the gently lapping water of the bay. However, arresting as the sight may be from the alfresco tables (especially at dusk); the moody interior of the restaurant is even more alluring – particularly for anybody bent on romance. High ceilings and exposed wood beams speak of heritage and are beautifully complemented by exotically-patterned silver wallpaper, brown leather banquettes and chairs, white-set tables, modern light fittings and an open kitchen.
You'll not long be distracted by the decor however, once you have seen the menu. Influenced by his mother's kitchen in Madras, as well as other food regions of India, head chef Kumar Mahadevan has created a stellar list of dishes which although leaning towards seafood (unsurprising considering the location) also offer a broad vegetarian and meat variety. A good way to start is with the signature crab podimas with iddiappam (blue swimmer crab tossed with black mustard seeds, fresh tomatoes and ginger served on Tamil brown rice string hoppers with a coconut broth). After this light introduction, you can follow with a main like the mild duck cooked in three extractions of coconut milk, stewed and lightly spiced with cloves and green chilli, or the more potent slow-cooked goat prepared with tomatoes, ginger, cardamom, garlic, mace and nutmeg. The dessert menu, which in points deviates from traditional Indian desserts with choices like chocolate naan with fresh strawberries, also offers classic dishes like kulfi and ras malai. On the drinks side, Aki's presents an extensive wine list (by the glass and bottle), as well as a good selection of spirits and original and re-invented cocktails.