In Short: Spiced by Billu’s might be new, but has the backing of Billus who have a rich history of feeding Indian food lovers of Sydney. A North Indian inspired menu with a numerous sections and choices. Brigade goat for meat lovers is a go to dish.
I thought it could not get much better down at Barangaroo on the food front. We have already treated ourselves to some amazing food with great chicken at Belles, legendary burgers with a Japanese twist at Ume and trip to the Mediterranean via Anason. Now a stalwart of Harris Park, Billu’s, has brought their flavours of the sub-continent to a harbour fronting restaurant along Wulugul Walk. The team at AGFG know a good restaurant to two, and when they alerted us that Spiced had opened up in the city, and at Barangaroo no less, we needed little persuasion to head in and try their menu. Spiced by Billu’s have been in operation since March 2017. Their space is relaxed yet refined. Comfortable chairs allow you to sink in. The decor is dominated by the bright orange terracotta look alike tiles and contrasted by grey columns and blacks for seats and tables.
I have enjoyed going to Billu’s for over a decade in Harris Park. Their homestead style restaurant is always packed to the brim with diners. Their dosais and thalis are some of the best in town. With Spiced, the focus skews towards north Indian focused menu. Having tasted their menu, I came away feeling that it’s more accessible to the diners who flock down from the offices for a nice lunch, or unwind with a banquet after a long day in the three towers that cast their shadows down onto Barangaroo precinct.
The menu at Spiced by Billu’s is extensive and it’s quite a conundrum when there’s just 2 of us and so many tantalising dishes. Our eyes being bigger than our tummies it’s hard to settle on just a few dishes, but begrudgingly we do. Our tip, gather a bunch of buddies so you can try something from the 8 sections of the menu . We start with one vegetarian and one meat entree. The samosa is bulbous, tall and packed with diced turnips, baby peas and potatoes. It is the quintessential Indian entree. Spiced by Billu’s take on the samosa is golden brown, with a crisp pastry that’s not heavy, yet crunchy and one bite and I was into the spiced mix. It’s not too hot at all which allows classic Indian pairing of spiced peas and potato to tingle the palate.
For meat lovers, a seekh kebab is worthy of your consideration. I was impressed with how moist the lamb was, yet there was a nice, almost crisp like crust on the surface of the kebab. It’s delicately spiced with cumin and coriander, with the flavours of the lamb prominent, and enhanced with ginger, diced coriander, and mint. Even little Coco and Viner Sammi, who is generally intimidated by Indian cuisine attacks the kebabs with vigour. It’s a great little introduction for those who have not been exposed to the spices and flavours of India .
With the supporting act of entree delivering a great start to our meal, it was on to the main acts. We had to go with a choice from “House of Billu’s Chef’s Specials”. I quickly settle on the Brigade goat. Whenever I see goat on the menu, I always like to see the chef’s interpretation, and how they handle the goat. It’s not a popular protein on menus across Sydney, so I take it as a sign of the passion of the chef and I know it will treated with respect and love. Spiced by Billu’s goat is outstanding. It’s the leg of baby goat that is cooked with sauce of fresh tomatoes, fresh mint, fresh coriander, yoghurt and flambed with rum. The meat is cooked with bone in, which accentuates the flavours as well as keeping it tender. I only have to prod my fork at the meat for it to fall off the bone. Of all the dishes we had, this was perhaps the spiciest dish, and even then it’s not going to have you reaching for the water. Rather, there’s a gentle heat that builds ever so lightly. The gravy is rich with specks of cloves dotted throughout to add their distinctive aromatic layer of flavour.
Speaking of aromatic, the biryani is just that. A chicken biryani is a beautiful of hue of lush yellow with chunks of chicken covered by basmatic rice that’s been cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, cashews, raisins and spices including green cardarmon, and whole cloves. There’s beautiful flavour to the chicken, with contrasting flavours of sweet from the raisins and the spice kicking in every so often. It’s fried with ghee to give it that extra level of richness. The rice is light and you can part each of grain. It’s an accomplished rendition of a classic dish of the subcontinent.
Completing our Spiced experience was a dish that I had previously not come across. Mango chicken definitely piqued my curiosity. On the menu nothing much is given away, almost daring the diner to order it. When it’s placed on the table, there’s no confusing the inspiration of the dish. It’s all about that mango, with a vibrant yellow gravy covering the chunks of chicken. On tasting it, I was greeted with the tropical flavours of mango. Layering of spices sits in the background balancing out the sweetness of the mango puree the chicken is cooked in. It’s a strangely addictive dish that has me coming back for more. The chicken pieces are generous and perfectly cooked through. The dish is laced with a yoghurt puree that adds to the richness. A unique dish that really departs from the norm of an Indian dining menu.
With perfectly soft naans to mop the gravy from the two curries and crunchy papadum to munch on in between courses, Spiced by Billu’s is a welcome addition to Barangaroo. I am particularly impressed with the curation of dining venues along Barangaroo. It’s not the typical wallet grabbing tourist exercise you will find in the tourist heavy precincts of Sydney. Spiced by Billu’s will fill you up for around $35 per person and allow you to try a range of dishes that are commonly found in the northern parts of Indian. Service is friendly and knowledgeable and if you’re new to Indian cuisine, they will be able to navigate the menu to ensure a great experience.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of AGFG and Spiced by Billu’s