Mela, up the northern end of William Street, opposite the Perth Mosque, has been around for quite a few years, however I hadn’t been for some time, until last week. It has had a little change around as far as the seating is concerned, with some booths installed to one side of the large dining area, and Indian lanterns hanging from the ceiling. A function room is attached and as we enjoyed our food a succession of colourfully dressed customers exited – saris, choli, salwar kameez and achkan in vibrant colours – after I think celebrating Eid al- Adha festival which had begun the previous evening.
The menu is extensive – covering North and South Indian cuisine – and they make a special mention of the array of Indian sweets on offer. Licenced also Mela has a small but reasonably good wine list – we chose a bottle of Juno Nebbiolo Rosato from South Australia’s Long View winery – in a pretty embossed bottle, the wine is blushing salmon pink with a bouquet of rose petals and spice, while the crisp, dry palate exhibits flavours of sour cherries and pomegranates – perfect wine for spicy food.
To the food – well when I saw that Vadas were on the list I had to order them – a South Indian fried doughnut or fritter, made from urad dal with spices combined in the batter, deep fried to a crisp skin and fluffy centre, they are one of my favourite Indian street food snacks – served with spicy sambar, coconut chutney and dhal for dipping; these were right up with the best I have had from South Indian specialty restaurants along Serangoon Road in Singapore. They are worth the visit to Mela, alone.
Then we turned to a couple of tandoor dishes – the first garlic prawns cooked on skewers – juicy, plump prawns, spiced up with garlic, saffron and chill sitting on a bed of fresh salad and served with creamy raita – brilliant.
Tandoor salmon next – again succulent chunks of salmon, mildly spiced, on a bed of kachumber salad – and again the raita accompaniment. The fish was meltingly tender, beautifully spiced – looked a picture on the plate, too.
A bowl of spiced chickpeas – served mixed with chopped red onion and cucumber in a slightly sweet chilli sauce – a spot of steamed rice and a garlicky naan – completed our meal.
Mela certainly hit all the right notes from my point of view – excellent food, friendly waiters, pleasant atmosphere – I regret not having been for so long, but won’t make that mistake again – well worth a visit – and I will be back to try their idlis another favourite snack food of South India.