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When you phone to book, the hold music is trumpeting elephants and singing birds. It is a startling, yet fitting, introduction to this delightful venue. Animal calls echo around the majestic entrance. An elaborate hallway of gushing fountain-urns navigates you past a life-sized tiger. Inside, a two-storey waterfall announces Gungadins Restaurant. While the foyer has shades of Vegas casino-style theming, the dining areas are tastefully decorated with antique Indian furnishings and British Raj memorabilia. The quirky menu is printed on yellowed parchment, and presented inside a cover of The Jungle Book. It is apparent that much thought has been put into its contents.
Oysters commence the parade of Indian flavours with coconut milk, ginger and lime. Bombay Bugs lure seafood lovers with lobster and crab dumplings in a piquant Bearnaise sauce; barramundi fillet receives a battering with Coopers beer. The Calcutta Caesar salad doesn't quite work – it's missing the vital coddled egg and introduces foreigners like onion and carrot. The Punjab Platter will feed the masses with duck rolls, pakoras, turkey kofta balls, prawns, fish, and salt and pepper squid. Order a side of Punjabi cabbage spiked with North Indian spices to round it off. The Hanging Duck comes quite dead and cooked in five spice, hoisin sauce and Satsuma plum; or choose one of the myriad of curries using the chilli-meter as a guide, finishing off with Frangelico profiteroles.