Image: The facade of the Rogan Josh
Rogan Josh is an unassuming restaurant located in Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria, that belies a wonderful eating experience.
In 2015 I visited the restaurant for the first time and among my review then, wrote – “Your host, Sandy Gujiral, is the wife of the “master” chef, Ranjeet Gujiral. What a brilliant combination they make. Because whilst Ranjeet creates an indian repast that will amaze and delight you, Sandy and her staff make you feel incredibly welcome.”
Well seven years is quite a long time in the life of a restaurant and many go under in a shorter time. Over this period, like all eateries”, Rogan Joh suffered greatly over the multiple COVID lockdowns.
To add to the misery, in May of 2021 the restaurant was totally destroyed by fire. The kitchen, storage rooms and main restaurant were completely burnt out.
Despite the many challenges, the Rogan Josh reopened a few months ago, so I thought it was a good time to go back and check it out for myself.
But hasn’t the “home” undergone some changes! I guess if there is a silver lining to a disaster such as being burnt down, it means that there is a clean slate on which to start again.
The “new” Rogan Josh is not just as comfortable as the “old” one, but the decor and layout is now gone a step up from being very good, to excellent.
My wife, my son and his partner were greeted like old friends by Sandy and we certainly not just felt welcome, we felt at home.
However, while the ambiance and setting is important to a good dining experience, it is the food that makes or breaks the experience.
The Rogan Josh specialises in Northern Indian and Tandoori Cuisine.
The various dishes are rated in temperature with 1 to 3 chillies, but, the chef will accomodate individual needs allowing for less or more heat” in the various curries. One of the most important parts of chef Ranjeet Gujiral’s cooking philosophies is that when it comes to the “hotness” of a curry, that heat needs to blend in with the flavour and not kill it.
Flavour is “king” in this restaurant.
The four of us had a variety of dishes commencing with entrees of Onion Bhaji’s and vegetable samosas. The four samosas were utterly delightful and a full range of flavours oozed from them. We had eight Bhaji’s between us, and on reflection that was too many, as the main courses were of generous proportions. The Bhaji’s were good, but i have to say, the samosas were seriously excellent.
The silences during the meal was testament to the delight in the consuming of the meals, which were accompanied by Garlic Naan (the best anywhere), Raita, and a speciality of the the chef – Daal Makhani [Lentils cooked overnight on a slow fire with herbs and spices.].
I chose the Prawn Vindaloo [3 chillies] – which is Prawns cooked with vinegar, chilli and spiced gravy and mixed with cooked potato.
My son had the Beef Vindaloo and reported the meat was so tender it almost needed no chewing.
The prawns were cooked to perfection, and absolutely melted in the mouth.
We both agreed the “heat” was perfect. Enough to remind you you are alive, but not so hot that you gasp for air, and not so hot that the mouth watering flavours were killed off, and, the servings were incredibly generous. So much so we could not finish it all, so our hostess, Sandy, provided take-away containers for us to take the uneaten portions home.
There is a decent drinks list of non alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, but you can also bring your own wine if you chose.
In regard to dietary requirements, all curries are Gluten Free, there is a large range of vegetarian and vegan dishes available, ensuring that those with dietary requirements can relax and enjoy the fabulous food.
The restaurant is able to cater for functions, with a function room that caters for up to 40 people, and you can hold that special event with them, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, engagement or business event. It also does takeaway.
So in conclusion, not only is everything I wrote in my original review of 31 October 2015 still true, the new interior now adds even a more wonderful experience to what must still be, one of the top Indian restaurants in Victoria.
The sad thing is, like many restaurants they are doing it hard still. Whether people are still concerned about COVID or the financial ‘clamp-down” is cutting deep, the fact is Sandy reports that patronage is certainly down compared to prior to COVID.
Do yourself a favour, visit the Rogan Josh to eat in for the full experience, or, to take-away. Either way, you will not be disappointed. Support small business, they are the life-blood of communities.
A full menu can be read on their web site and bookings can also be made through that site – https://indianroganjosh.com.au
This review was written by:
Rob Greaves – Senior Editor of the Toorak Times