Pinky Ji

Jackie McMillan
10th Dec 2023

Pinky Ji is a riot of colour. Bright red neon lights the way down into a basement dining space swathed in floral garlands. The walls are turmeric; the curved booths are hot pink velour. Even the enamel plate settings and cutlery are both colourful and twee. The artworks are Bollywood updated with neon. It’s kind of a lot, but it’s hard not to smile as you quaff your first cocktail named for the 1975 Hindi action flick, Sholay Sunrise and Spice ($23). Fittingly the drink is a bit Dacoit Western teaming tequila with Aperol, grapefruit, lime, agave and Tabasco. Too much sweetness from the tandoori pineapple buries the cardamom and gin in my Daughter in Law ($20) but I liked the sour fresh wedge on the rim. If you can’t be arsed going to their self-service beer fridge (they don’t provide a list) the 2022 Nocturne SR Chardonnay ($95) is bright and lean enough (surprising for Margaret River) not to fight with the impending cacophony of Indian flavours. 

What’s even better is this time ‘round, chef and restaurateur Jesse Singh - who started in Sydney with Don’t Tell Aunty in Surry Hills - makes “unauthentic Indian” food that actually lives up to the hype. Former Chin Chin head chef Johann Jay does good work across curries, wok, grill and tandoor. From the urn-shaped oven, tandoori bird ($34/6 piece) in an ‘unauthentic’ shade of khaki is juicy and spicy, set off by cumin yoghurt and minty chutney. Skip the whole wheat flatbread laccha paratha ($10/each), they were overcooked and so dry even oily curry butter and fluffy coconut sambal couldn’t save ‘em. Old Delhi vegan chana ($22) enlivens perfectly cooked chickpeas with the sourness of green mango powder. They’re a good foil to the Kashmiri chilli heat of lamb rogan josh ($32) where big hunks of tender meat sit in a rich sauce that made me wish I’d chosen better flatbread. Get your nose over the ‘unauthentic’ Hyderabadi dum goat biryani ($32) as you punch through the pastry dome: it’s a fragrant explosion and probably my favourite dish. Yep, if it’s anything, Pinky Ji is a fun place to eat.