What can I say about Suraj ? Ever since being introduced to it by my good friends Ben and Jen, it’s been a regular place for dinners of both the rowdy and refined version, a point of reference to every other Indian restaurant I’ve been to, and a wonderful example of food that is honest and simple and good.
Suraj is run by Roger, and his wife Susan (get it… Su-Raj). It’s also convenient that Suraj means “Sun”. He’s been in business for close to 15 years in the same spot, and I’m willing to bet that the menu hasn’t changed a hell of a lot in all that time either.
Suraj is not so much a restaurant but an institution of traditional Indian cooking, often dwarfed by it’s elaborate and decadent neighbours in the ever trendy Highgate strip. But while places like Jacksons, Veritas, Must, and Soto try to ooze style and charm, and fancy looking Indian chain restaurants start up across the road promising glitz and glamour… Suraj is unchanging in it’s quaint approach to no frills dining.
So after yet another great night of dining there with a group of friends and curry lovers. I thought it best to put something online about this place, as it is sorely under represented in the high stakes (steaks?) world that is the Perth restaurant scene (which may or may not be an oxymoron) .
Of course I can see why it would be easy to overlook Suraj. The decor is drab (and that’s being polite), the florescent lights normally flickering overhead are more reminiscent of a hospital waiting room than a restaurant… and when there is more than 2 people in the place it’s almost impossible to hear anything over the resounding din caused by a complete lack of sound insulation.
But really… does any of that matter ? (Feel free to skip that question if your favourite restaurant is the Witches Cauldron, because you clearly enjoy spending stupid amounts of money on bad food, for the sake of supposed reputation).
Roger makes regular pilgrimages back to India to refill his spice coffers with the right quality of stock to use in his exacting recipes. Garam Masala is all ground by hand and even though I reckon I’m a dab hand at making the odd curry at home, Roger said it’d take me at least 3 years working full time to be able to reproduce any of his… which I will reluctantly concede may be true.
The menu is simple and consists of a number of curry dishes that for once actually taste different to each other. I can do no more than to point you to the blackboard above which is in essence all he does, aside from the occasional goat curry that manages to slip its way onto the menu depending on what his Halal butcher has in stock.
Highlights for me personally are the chickpea curry, the masala dhal, the beef vindaloo, and the magnificently airy pooris (or puri, i’m not really sure which, but i’ll go with what’s on the menu). The great thing though, is I can turn up to the place whenever I want, regardless of how late it is, and know that if people have already ordered I will love everything that comes out.
Suraj is not the kind of place to go if you’re in a hurry. Something I had to get used to the first time I went. But given the nature of the food, and the atmosphere of the place, I’m not sure you can rush things without losing some of the magic. Certainly the look on Rogers face when a large group of people all come in at once is a little troubling… but when the food arrives all is well and right in the world.
On a sad note however. It seems that this little slice of Highgate history may not be too long for this world. The owners of the building are planning to take the shop back over within the next few months, and according to Roger, turn it into one big restaurant / bar combined with the shop next door. I asked if he’d be moving elsewhere and it doesn’t sound like he has the energy to start from scratch all over again. So the days of simple Indian pleasure Suraj style may be numbered.
If you haven’t been yet, then do yourself a favour. Get a couple of good bottles of wine, a few close friends, and swing by Suraj for a taste of food the way it should be made… from the heart.
Suraj Indian Cuisine
513 Beaufort St
Highgate, WA 6003
(08) 9328 2858
22 thoughts on “Suraj Indian Cuisine”
Everytime Ben and I find something really good with a reasonable price seems to close. First was Kapriz and now Suraj. I will miss my chickpea curry, dhal and everything in Suraj. I guess, Ben and I need to find another good Indian place to go after they close. But before that, I’m definitely up to have another Suraj night or 2 or even 3 before they close. Good company is definitely welcome :)
This place sounds like a good one to get to – I reckon November might be the go if you think they’ll still be open?
I agree with Jen (kreshcharette) that we seem to have a knack of finding places that shortly thereafter close.
Grendel – I am up for it anytime. I hear you have little Grendel’s and I am sure they too would enjoy the fare if you were so inclined to bring them.
Roger, if you’re reading this I hope you don’t blame us for an increase in the number of your guests :)
I have an idea. How about we nominate Matt to organise said event? Hmm?
Everyone in favour of this suggestion say “Aye!” – “AYE!!!”
Everyone otherwise inclined say “Nay!” – … … …
So Matt, when are we going next? :)
Ooooh… Do I detect a reason to come down from the Hills? ;-)
Make sure all junior Grendels have enough vegemite sandwiches to share around this time though!
BTW… That’s an “AYE” from “The Valkyrie”!
what beautiful pictures! indian food looks so delicious, now i’m craving it for supper tonight, YUM!!!
I guess I will have to get my act together and try Suraj – been meaning to since I moved to Perth. The man thinks we are cursed – every new place we tried has a tendency to shut down after a while :(
Mmmm… curry… AYE
I think everyone must be cursed… either that or it’s just the nature of Perth that there are too few good places to go around. I am perennially slow when it comes to things like this too, but I’ll be milking it til the very end.
I don’t think it would take that many people to book the whole place out. So any lovely people this side of the equator wanting to join in had best email me or leave a comment post haste so I can organise something in the next couple of weeks.
And since when did this blog turn into a dinner club ?? Dammit…
I may have asked you this already, but have you been to Gogo’s Madras? Nat, myself, and a fair few of our friends are big fans.
Good call Brad… I have eaten Gogo’s food at a few different food shows where he has had a stall, but I haven’t actually been to the restaurant. According to Roger of Suraj, he does good food (he’s pretty scathing about a lot of other places). So it’s definitely on my list of places to try.
What’s the food like ?
We’re in – Early november better than Late October though!
I was never a huge fan of Indian food until Nat and I decided to give Gogo’s a try about 6 months ago. Our favourites are the Chicken Koorma and the Goat Rogan Josh, along with their superb garlic naan. He is also famous for his lamb cutlets (can also vouch for these).
If you don’t like the food, you can always get your fill from the plethora of cricketing memorabilia he has on display. Just don’t ask to see his googlie.
Great write up and pictures as always Matt!
I know how hard it is to find great Indian here in Sydney. So it’s such a shame that this little gem is closing down.
I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas. Your pics are great as usual!
Grendel: Early November should work, I’ll keep everyone posted.
Brad: I’ve been a fan of Indian for a while now… but of late tending to get fatigued by the number of places supposedly offering new/different interesting things, which all end up tasting the same level of bland. I’ll definitely check out Gogo’s soon though because I’ve heard good things… and if Warney and the entire Indian cricket team can’t be trusted… then who can ??
Max: Cheers mate, I’m still waiting for that email :)
jenjen: I would have thought you’d be spoilt for choice in Sydney ? Wandering through Darlinghurst when I was there last, I saw a bunch of places that “looked” good. I didn’t get to sample any though because there was far too much great Thai on offer to pass up.
I am first generation Australian out of Calcutta on my mothers side. Before it was Suraj, it was Naizams and my grandfather used to take me in the seventies to buy what’s called Khati Rolls. I have been going there ever since and Roger still keeps me going with these in this century! They are beautiful and worth the wait if you want something smaller to eat. Also a much better solution to a kebab when tanked!! He’s such a darling and it would be good to spend your dollars there in his twilight time!
This place looks really interesting. Do I have to make a booking?
Roger wishes to thank everyone for their support and patronage to SURAJ.
Roger closes his doors to the world on the 24th :'( It will be a sad day for Jen and I but we’re gonna eat as much as we can before then!
If you haven’t been yet, then get it in quick!!!
Raj, thanks for the great food :D
To clarify, that’s Sunday the 24th of February. 4 days to go!
Rodger is a great chef. Anyone want to taste more of him may visit Bahrain in the near future.
Roderick, what does that mean ? Bahrain is a hell of a long way to go for a chickpea curry… granted it may be worth the trip. Care to explain ?