CHATTY Indian gent sitting next to me at Annalakshmi’s on the Esplanade once claimed Govindas in Northbridge makes the best Indian food in Perth.
It was a bold claim, especially since we were both enjoying a meal at Annalakshmi’s, which had survived the lengthy construction of Elizabeth Quay and was pay what you like; but I had to withhold judgement until trying Govindas.
Although both restaurants have an all you can eat buffet, at Govindas you pay a fixed price ($12 standard, $8 concession) for a plate.
Govindas attracts a mix of hungry budgeteers and well-to-do business people, and everyone seems to leave with a smile.
You can’t miss that the restaurant is run by Hare Krishnas as each table has a copy of The Nectar of Instruction, and male volunteers have that unmistakeable close-cropped haircut with a long tuft at the back.
On this occasion the vegetarian buffet—wholesome enough to fill you up but healthy enough not to leave you bloated—had eggplant curry with broccoli and cauliflower as its main.
It was delicately spiced and came with a punchy dhal that didn’t contain any onion or garlic (I often have to rely on these to give my lacklustre Indian cooking a boost).
Hare Krishna restaurants don’t use those ingredients as they’re considered “too pungent” and unhelpfuwl for yogis because they induce lethargy and agitate the consciousness.
The meal came with a garden salad of lettuce, cucumber and carrot, which seemed like a strange accompaniment to curry, and was covered in a tahini dressing which I couldn’t quite make up my mind about.
The enormous samosa (an extra $4) was big enough to be a meal in itself, and the spicy potato filling was light, fluffy and moreish.
I always look forward to a fresh papadam with an Indian meal, but this one was slightly lacking in crunch.
The lassi was sweeter than I’m used to but had a delightful hint of rose and that classic yoghurt tang.
Dessert was warm custard with a tasty semolina halva, which was tasty but a bit too rich to polish off.
After the meal I got chatting to one of Govindas’ managers, Yadu.
“The cook should be conscious, not angry, agitated or disturbed,” he said.
“The person who’s cooking is doing an act of devotion. Like they say, a mother’s cooking is the best because she cooks with devotion. We go one step further and devote it to God.”
After more than 20 years of serving simple, hearty food in the centre of Northbridge, Govindas is a bonafide icon which definitely gives Annalakshmi’s a run for its money.
I left with every intention of coming back when I’m next in Northbridge.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM
194 William St, Northbridge
Open Monday – Saturday