It sounds like an unusual combination, but this fusion of Indian spices and Chinese-style cooking is a cuisine found mainly in North-Eastern parts of India. I thought that some of this interest was because South Asians/Indians already had a "karahi," the subcontinental wok. But the story offered by Indian Chopsticks in Harris Park is more historical than having the right pots and pans.
It seems that there are 20,000 overseas Chinese in Calcutta, India. There's even an actual century-old Chinatown, with Cantonese restaurants, as one might expect, and Hakka-style restaurants, which are not so common outside China. The Hakka ethnic group, speaking a northern dialect in the mountains of South China, have a reputation for simple dishes with exquisite texture and balance.
So there has developed a fusion cuisine with Indian spices and Chinese techniques. Indian Chopsticks aspires to the historical karma (beyond the similarity of tools), although it also does some more conventional Pacific-rim fusion food. And some dishes I tried leaned too heavily on a sweet-sour-hot sauce that reminded me of inferior Szechuan.
Testing the Hakka/Calcutta story, I also went for Szechwan Lamb ($13.90), and when asked about the spice factor, I said, "I want it spicy." I got the same sauce, but with enough dried red chilies and little fresh green chilies to earn two or three silhouettes in a Thai restaurant. And the Hakka story is true about the little boneless pieces of lamb in this dish, done to a tender turn. But I did like those little green chilies. I was picking them out with chopsticks — by the way, they only give you chopsticks at Indian Chopsticks if you ask — because the green bird peppers had a great flavor before the sheer heat came on.
The standard sauce is very edible on the excellent rice, which looks like large bowl of Chinese rice, but it is in fact basmati and strongly aromatic.
Consistently rated one of the best Indian Chinese restaurants in Sydney (no small honor these days). Sparsely decorated, the restaurant relies for colour and movement on the Bollywood videos on a small screen in the corner.
Not to be missed is the spicy and aromatic chilli paneer $9.90, bite-size pieces of cottage cheese tossed in garlic, soya, onion, chillies and seasoning. Then tuck into sensational gobhi Manchurian $8.90, cauliflowerets in a spicy sauce of chillies and soy sauce, and tender Chicken 65 $9.90, lightly battered chicken pieces tossed with curry leaves, chillies, yoghurt and seasoning.
Exotic flavours and aromas; great value. Unsurpassed food, a calm brown-and-beige color scheme accented by old-world mirrors and paintings, and excellent Taj service make dining here a top experience.
Reservations are advised on weekdays and crucial on weekends.