Desinental, Prahran

MELBOURNE | Often, the ideas that set you on a new path come at the most unexpected of times. In the case of Desinental, the idea of opening an Indian fried chicken and burger joint came to Delhi-born chef Gurvinder “Gary” Sandhu while out for dinner with friends one fateful evening.

Gary had years of experience cooking all kinds of cuisines in kitchens around Melbourne, and knew that he wanted to open his own Indian spot, but didn’t want it to be more of the same. While eating Korean fried chicken, the idea struck. Fried chicken is a popular street food in India, with countless vendors serving up their own Indian takes on the favourite. Melburnians love fried chicken and Indian food, so why not introduce the combo into the city. Ditto for Indian burgers, which are also very much a thing in India.

Desinental is a portmantua of “desi”, a person of South Asian birth or descent who lives abroad, and “nental”, referring to continental Europe. The name reflects the fusion of flavours and influences that Gary and his wife Samara are serving up to customers at their restaurant. It’s food that’s inspired by culture and memory.

Fried chicken is a centrepiece of the menu at Desinental. Gary’s version is inspired by the crunch of papadums, and took months to perfect at home during lockdown. Chicken wings, drumettes, and tenders are marinated for 24 hours before being tossed in coating of turmeric, spiced potato, and rice flour, before being double fried. It’s some of the crunchiest fried chicken you’ll find in Melbourne.

Fried chicken is served with a side of coleslaw mixed with bhel puri, and your choice of sauces like butter chicken, gochujang spiked date and tamarind chutney, and a fiery “Dhamaka” hot sauce. Where possible, all of the sauces and condiments are made from scratch.

For burgers, it’s creations like a Desi masala beef chopped cheese burger, the Delhi tikka fried chicken burger, and Goan trance burger. One thing that’s very apparent when you’re eating Gary’s food is that he doesn’t hold back on flavours. Fragrant herbs and spices, balanced heat, and big flavours come through with each bite. Be sure to accompany your burger with a side of spiced Masala fries with a spicy mayo inspired by Louisiana hot sauce and vindaloo, or some loaded lamb keema kara fries.

To drink, it’s local and Indian beer, Indian inspired cocktails created by Samara, and house-made lemonade with flavours like rose, and chilli green mango.

Going forward, the menu will be expanding to reflect more of the ‘memory’ part of Gary’s plans for Desinental. Pictures of his family and ancestors line the walls as you make your way through the distinct rooms of the restaurant – samooh, yaad, and pataka. The new dishes are a work in progress, but Gary gave me a try of a fried rice biryani-ish but not really dish, inspired by a family favourite that his grandmother used to cook for him. It’s a cracker, and an exciting sign of where the menu is headed.


475 High Street
Victoria 3181

Telephone: (03) 9193 9486
E-mail: n/a

Mon – Sun: 10:00am to 10:00pm



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