I met chef and restaurateur Jimmy Shu at the Darwin convention center. He was doing a cooking demonstration together with the chefs from Australia’s television show My Kitchen Rules. Afterwards I came over to have my picture taken with him.
Chef Jimmy is a celebrity in his own right and is the owner of a number of premier dining restaurants in the Northern Territory. Being a fellow foodie we immediately hit it off and later he invited me to his multi-awarded restaurant Hanuman in the city.
At Hunuman we were greeted by his very gracious staff and “kababayan” Jowi Martinez. He showed us to our table and recommended the house specials. For starters we had the restaurant’s signature dish hanuman oysters. The shucked oysters in Thai sauce were presented nicely in a unique clay pot with miniature tangine covers. Jowi also recommended an order of roti to wipe off the extra sauce. Another delicious appetizer served was the trumpet mushrooms topped with minced pork and prawn in light coconut cream sauce.
For entrées we had the house specials like the meen moolie, beef vindalo and the butter chicken. Meen moolie are barramundi fillets delicately simmered in coconut milk with turmeric and fresh curry leaves. Another lovely dish is the butter chicken. The perfectly grilled tandoori chicken is served in an emulsion of cashew and tomato curry. Yummy! I can still imagine how it tastes!
And as if all that food was not enough, Jimmy asked the kitchen to prepare a whole Thai crispy snapper in sweet & sour sauce. He was waiting for me to eat the head and tail as most Asians would do, but I told him that I was too embarrassed to do that in Oz.
A personal favorite of mine is the beef vindaloo. The meat is flavored with exotic spices and is slowly cooked until fork tender. It is spicy and awakens the appetite, so I could not stop eating. I accidentally ate a chili pepper and Jimmy immediately ordered a yogurt raita to balance the pepper’s hotness. The garlic naan was also a great accompaniment. We matched the meal with two bottles of red Shiraz from Peppertree Vineyards. Incidentally Australian Shiraz is also my favorite!
A wonderful ending to the dinner was a desert sampler of black rice brulee, chocolate water chestnut cake, and Sri lankan love cake with vanilla ice cream.
I would describe my Hanuman experience as great company(as Jimmy was such a darling with plenty of stories and was quite funny), excellent service and superb food! The menu was indeed an exciting mix of Thai, Indian and Nonya flavors. And I can vouch that the ingredients were fresh and dishes correctly prepared.
Jimmy Shu was such a gracious and generous host. I think the secret ingredient to Hanuman’s success is his hands-on approach as he takes time to talk to his employees and greet his other guests. Indeed such warmth is also reflected in his friendly staff . No wonder this restaurant is a local favorite and is one of Darwin’s best! (photo:Our host Jimmy Shu in the middle)