Baluchi Restaurant, Illovo
10:00 - 22:00 Tues to Sun
Price Range (p/p)
Medium | R100 - R300
Indian food is not a difficult find in Johannesburg, or in fact in most places in South Africa. The Indian food culture is as much a part of Mzansi as Boerewors, Mgwinya and Koesisters. At Baluchi located in the heart of Illovo, you can expect your Indian favourites with some exciting new additions, but elevated.
Baluchi restaurant first opened its doors in Alberton where they served an authentic Pakistani menu for about 2 years. Now located at the more central Illovo Junction they are taking things up a notch and aim to bring a more refined Indian food experience to Joburg foodies.
We were invited to taste-test their new menu, mocktails range and the exciting first-of-its-kind Chaat Trolley. But more about that in a bit.
The restaurant is cosy and can seat perhaps 60 people. The rich green and gold of the plush dining chairs lend a luxurious but contemporary feel to the space. The signature green is pulled through into the decor and even the crockery without feeling overwhelming. Modern light fittings hang from the ceiling and behind a tiled bar where you can watch your mocktails being prepared.
Aseema Kazi is the owner. A dynamic personality and entrepreneur at heart, her sense of style is reflected in the decor and the food at Baluchi. We ordered the Signature Baluchi and a Basil and Raspberry mocktail along with the Crispy Brinjal Fries appetiser. These came served embedded in a tasty green chutney in six shot glasses and could easily serve 3 people. The Signature mocktail was deliciously refreshing with citrus notes. I felt the Raspberry mocktail needed the Basil flavour to be stronger. While we enjoyed these, Aseema tells us about the brand new concept she is introducing, namely the Chaat Trolley.
Now most of us are quite familiar with chaat and you can get it at most halaal markets and some Indian restaurants. At Baluchi they have crafted a whole chaat experience. Now you are able to order a chaat platter, and they bring the various elements to your table on a trolley. They then assemble pani-puri, dhai puri, aloo chaat and more with great theatre as you watch. I must say this was fun to watch and the pani puri is some of the best I have had. I often find pani puri water to not be flavoured enough, and I was delighted at how tasty this was. This platter is enough for 4 to 6 people as a starter or even 1 person as a meal.
For mains we tried the Lobster Biryani and their Portuguese Chicken. Yes, they do have menu items other than Indian food as well. So if you’re a group with varied preferences your can still cater for everyone.
The Lobster Biryani was served with a cucumber raita and mini popadums. I love the care taken with the presentation. The masala was woven well through the rice and over the lobster tails of which there were four in this serving. Enough for 2 people. We had chosen to have this in hot. The heat was just right for my partner but I found it a little spicy. The flavour was on point and we absolutely loved this dish. The only thing I missed were potatoes which is typical of Biryani but not necessarily essential.
The Portuguese Chicken was served whole and butterflied with a basket of crisp fries. We asked for it to be cut into 8 pieces which they swiftly did. You can have it cut into quarters or halves if you prefer. I found the flavour authentic and quite lemony albeit a little mild. I had chosen the medium heat for this one. The chicken is served in the drier style, but they may offer a saucy version in the futur
For dessert we opted for the Paan flavoured ice cream. It comes in 3 scoops, lightly drizzled with rose syrup and topped with soomph (candy coated fennel seeds). Fennel is a spice well known for aiding in digestion. It was the perfect ending to our traditional yet elevated Indian meal.