The first Indian Executive Chef to score a Michelin star for an Indian restaurant in South East Asia has opened his flagship restaurant and bar in Brisbane Quarter – and its tantalising mix of Indo-Asian flavours are already teasing eager devotees.
Meet Manjunath Mural. A Singaporean chef brought up in a family of doctors, he is the only one of his siblings to not pursue a career in medicine, instead studying hotel management. A turning point in his life was meeting two Thai chefs during his industrial training — it was these two women who inspired him to become a chef. “I was so impressed with their passion for food and the respect that they got from the guests and the culinary team. It made me realise that this profession is so full of respect and passion and it was at that moment that I decided to be a chef.”
Driven by a hunger to succeed, Mural quickly rose to prominence. He competed against the world’s best wherever he could, notably being crowned Best Asian Chef at the World Gourmet Summit 2012. Even after receiving a Michelin star as executive chef at Singapore’s The Song of India, he sought greater excellence. Setting his sights on Australia, he opened his first restaurant Heritij on George Street in Brisbane, teaming up with restaurateur Sridhar Penumechu and Malt Dining’s Nick Pinn. Mural chuckles at the word “ambitious” as he recalls the moment Heritij was born. “It’s always been my dream to combine traditional Indian food with Asian influences and my very old friend Mr Sridhar Penumechu (we studied hotel management together way back in India) wanted to create a brand of Indian food with a difference no one has seen or experienced in Brisbane.”
And that they did. From the signature dish, the flambé leg of lamb prepared on the table for diners to share, with royal influences from the Nawabs of India, to the Mangalorean lobster doused in coconut gassi, it is a gastronomic mecca of inventive design. “Playing with ingredients, colours, flavours, presentation and garnishes makes me happy. I like the constant thinking it requires, and the way we can modify the cuisine, and shape it according to local demand, while still ensuring diners know it is Indian cuisine,” Mural said. In true Indian style, the menu is laden with vegetarian dishes and sides, from smoked aubergine, a cumin and turmeric take on potato mash, to an assortment of zingy koftas, and plant based seekh. The cocktail menu leaves little zest behind, combining classics with exotic inspiration from the kitchen, like the Dirty Chai Martini, the Darjeeling Julep and the Cumin Get It.
This new chapter of dining in Brisbane Quarter embraces roots, culture, heirlooms, experience and ancestry, combining Mural’s distinctive Asian-Indian flair with Pinn’s bar expertise and Penumechu’s finesse. The trio plan to expand Heritij as a global restaurant, first in Australia before conquering the world, striving to propagate their shared vision of Indian cuisine at its pinnacle on an international stage.