Published: November 06, 2019

MasterChef winner Sashi Cheliah doesn’t mind being watched while he’s at work.

Which is a good thing – his new restaurant and bar, open on Monday, gives diners full view of the genial chef and his team hard at work.

Last week, the final touches were still being made at Gaja by Sashi on Pirie St in the CBD. The Malbarosa and Co design is a riot of colour with a festive feel – a celebration of the Indian, Chinese and Malay nationalities which contribute to Singaporean cuisine. From the coloured shutters to hawker stall-type stools, every element has been carefully thought out.

Sashi and his head chef Miles Davies (ex Golden Boy, Hotel Longtime) have designed the menu with small, medium and large dishes, perfect for sharing.

“It doesn’t really focus on one cuisine; it is focusing on a lot of cuisines around Asia,” Sashi says. “You have some Thai food, some Sri Lankan food, South Indian food, Vietnamese cuisine, Indonesian – so we pick and choose the dishes that are not commonly available in Adelaide. Flavours that are very bold and robust.”

What you also won’t find anywhere else are two of Sashi’s own dishes from MasterChef, and his family lamb recipe.

Cocktails have been designed with an Asian feel by bar manager Matthew Kalleske. Wines and beers are mostly South Australian, with one notable exception.

“I was very particular about having (Singaporean) Tiger Beer on the menu,” Sashi laughs.

Some aromatics have to be imported from South-East Asia but local protein and vegies are championed.

“All the seafood we do is South Australian line fishing. I will only eat line-caught fish,” Miles chips in.

A birdcage mural in the corner reproduces the sparrow on the old Singaporean $50 note, but it has a deeper significance.

Former policeman and prison officer Sashi wants to offer, down the track, work to former prisoners who want to “turn over a new leaf”.

He is hoping to set an example to other organisations, “to start something good”.

Mon-Sat lunch and dinner; 4/86 Pirie St, city, gajabysashi.com

Image: Gaja by Sashi

Gaja by Sashi opens in Pirie St by Robyn Douglass originally seen in The Advertiser 5 November 2019

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