Monday, October 26, 2009
by Deepti Bhargava
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Moksha in the literal sense means a state of bliss liberated from the earthly cycle of death and re-birth. Enter Newmarket and the word finds an all new meaning. Moksha is an Indian restaurant that offers authentic Indian food, with a presentation that will convert your regular eat-out to a cherished dining experience.
The restaurant, which has not even celebrated its first anniversary, is owned and run by seasoned chef Prabhakar Rao who has three decades of experience in the hospitality industry. The very passionate Rao envisions of breaking the barriers that restrict people to loving only a few popular Indian dishes. “I want people in Auckland to relish the variety in Indian cuisine that goes beyond butter chicken and dal makhani,” beams Rao.
True to his vision, the menu at Moksha is not your ordinary Indian. If you are the experimenting types, try my personal favourite Bhindi-Do-Pyaza, a delicious vegetarian dish made of fried okra and onions or the delectable brinjal chops, made with eggplant. But if you are a meat lover, the balti lamb and Mysore chilli chicken are sure to please your taste buds.
Even though the food is none like you’ve eaten anywhere else, the restaurant is not overflowing with customers. While my husband and I licked our fingers when dining there with friends, only two other tables were occupied the whole time we were there. Ask Rao the reason for the average response and he explains, “At the moment, I don’t have the budget to promote Moksha. Recession has done no good either. Whatever footfalls we’re getting is thanks to a good word of mouth by patrons and our $10 buffet lunch tempter”.
I wondered if the fact that most non-Indian people in Auckland are exposed to a limited range of Indian dishes might be the reason for the slack profits of this variety restaurant. Rao puts my suspicions to rest.
“Moksha is fighting other Indian food joints to prove its worth, but I’ve realised that if you advice your customers on what to eat and follow that-up with great food and good service, nothing beats that,” quips Rao.
He agrees that their butter chicken and garlic naan are envious, but those who make the effort at trying a new restaurant also like to try new dishes. For this very reason Rao changes 25 per cent of the menu every month.
Don’t be mistaken by their “not-so-talkative” two-man staff, the service is smooth and unquestionable. Can’t say if a full-house in the restaurant will change this, but for now, it’s good as it gets. The décor is above average, with a few Indian artefacts and paintings thrown in here and there. The music in the background changes as the sky turns from blue to orange to black. Starting with English pop songs, the mood swings to an enjoyable traditional Indian instrumental and then to Bollywood masala. The last bit could do with a better selection of songs.
The most pleasing thing about dining at Moksha is the presentation of food. True to the chef’s own five-star experience, Moksha is no less. The best of this comes with the desserts. Try ordering the chocolate marble and you wouldn’t want to spoil the beautifully dressed dessert plate by eating the sweet temptation.
I say, next time you want to try ‘”something Indian”, try Moksha and see the difference. Let’s not talk about the prices, it is Newmarket after all.
For more, visit: http://www.moksharestaurant.co.nz/