Sasuma REVIEW 5

1278 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
4.5/5 stars

OKAY, LET’S GET this over with: yes, the spelling mistake on Sasuma’s signage is hilarious, embarrassing, humiliating… and I’m sure the staff get some pedant like me coming in to remind them every other day that ‘Recipe’ isn’t spelt like that. Damn, that must be annoying.
That’s why, in the several times I’ve eaten at Sasuma thus far, I’ve not mentioned the gaffe. Anyway, I’m sure once their customer base builds and they start making a profit, they’ll get the signwriter back in to fix his mistake.
Cutely billing itself as ‘Mother In Law’s Recipe – Authentic Indian Dine In & Takeaway’, Sasuma, as the sign proudly states, is 100 percent vegetarian.
I had no idea of its existence until, as one of the judges of Metro magazine’s ‘cheap eats’ (check out the September 2012 issue) I discovered it while trawling the suburbs for restaurants that fit the bill. Only open for a couple of months and still not listed in many – if any – of the numerous online dining guides, it’s clear that Sasuma has yet to find its clientele.
Perched up near the Richardson Rd end of the Mt Roskill shops, it was empty of customers the entire time I sat chatting and eating, eating, eating with Doctor Feelgood co-conspirator Ashley Kramer at lunchtime on a Friday. By my second visit with my wife a week or two later, there were a few people poking their snoots in the door, including some young lads who looked worriedly at the menu, and asked, “You’ve only got VEGETARIAN food!?” And when the owner proudly replied in the affirmative, the boys, obviously looking for the safety of some butter chicken, scuttled back out the door.
Its box-like interior is nothing to write home about, but that’s not a deal breaker. More importantly, this small premises appears clean, and it’s a reasonably pleasant space in which to spend an hour or so. What makes it so pleasant is the combination of friendly, helpful service and delectable food.
It seems to be run by a husband and wife team (husband out front, wife cooking up the treats), so if you’re in a real hurry, this is probably not the place to come to… both times the meals took between 15 and 25 minutes to arrive. This wasn’t a problem for us, because we ordered snacks to begin, and these appeased our craving tummies and created a sense of spice-anticipation. With so many cheap Indian restaurants cooking and then keeping their day’s meals in warming ovens – highly convenient, not necessarily fresh – I would opt for this approach every time.
The menu isn’t extensive, but what’s there is delicious. On my first visit, I tried out the Kathiyawadi Gujarati thali, while Ashley opted for the Gujarati thali (both $12.50). Mine was spectacular, and included some kind of strongly tomato-flavoured noodle (made with chick peas?) dish. Then there’s the amazing yoghurt soup (that’s right!) that is designed to be soaked up by the rice. As you can see, the rice is another matter: it’s infused with lentils, and appears to have been fried: yum! In addition, there was a subtle but tasty eggplant curry, potato and pea curry, generous amount of roti, and some of those strong, tart pickles that are somewhat of an acquired taste (I love them). A nice touch was the inclusion of a single ball of gulab jamon. An included glass of buttermilk was fairly tasteless, but nicely took the edge off the hotness of the curries, and more effectively, I thought, than raita (a yoghurt dish with cucumber).
Ashley’s dish included the yoghurt soup, a chick pea curry, the same potato and pea curry, and dhal, along with some standard rice, and he rated it highly, although his appetite demanded an encore.
The second time I visited, we both had the Kathiyawada Gujarati thalis, and they lived up to their reputation. We also dined on that most appetizing of cold dishes, dahi puri (exploding hard-cased balls with yoghurt and tasty sauce inside).
The section of their menu offering fast food is dedicated to dishes like dahi puri and pav bhaji and dabeli, which I associate with Jai Jalaram Khaman, because they do this Indian street food so very well. So I’m looking forward to checking out Sasuma’s versions of the last two (a fattening but incredibly delectable blend of long-cooked vegetables in tomato gravy, and vegetarian burger respectively).
Sasuma also has a Punjabi menu for those who want a more standard North Indian-style rich curry. I got a few of these to take away – the veg korma and the dal makhani, and at $8.90 for a very reasonable quantity they were great value, if no better or worse than similar dishes from other Indian restaurants around town. But of course, I’d rather get these from a fully vegetarian restaurant, because I know there’s no chance of cross-contamination from meat dishes cooked in the same kitchen.
I did my best to get Sasuma voted into Metro’s top 100 ‘cheap eats’ because it really does offer a great combination of good value, excellent food and friendly service… and as I’ll doubtless be pointing out elsewhere, it’s hard to come by good service in vegetarian Indian restaurants, for some reason.
Just fantastic. Go there at once. GARY STEEL

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