MELBOURNE | Enter Via Laundry has been through multiple incarnations since starting as a home dinner concept that one ‘entered via the laundry’ of owner/chef Helly Raichura’s Box Hill home in 2018. There were the lockdown degustation boxes that highlighted food from India’s regions, and a pop-up residence in the Dandenong Ranges. Now, Enter Via Laundry has a permanent home.
The concept has evolved and become more refined over the years, but Helly’s mission remains much the same. That is, sharing inspiring food, stories and company on a shared table in an intimate environment.
The restaurant is in Carlton North, and maintains a sense of mystery and allure from the moment you enter. Not through the Nicholson Street frontage, but rather through the rear laneway, into a homely courtyard and waiting space. Enjoying a welcome drink and snack, you chat with fellow diners while waiting for Helly to come out and explain the concept and evening’s menu.
You’re then led into the restaurant proper. There’s a communal table in one room, which channels the spirit of the Enter Via Laundry original home dinners, and a handful of tables for groups of two to four in the front space, which opens to the small kitchen. Diners are encouraged to chat amongst themselves, walk up to the kitchen, and ask questions.
My visit was my first time experiencing Enter Via Laundry in person. I had enjoyed Helly’s lockdown boxes on two separate occasions, so was very excited about what was to come.
Over the coming hours, you’re treated to a degustation that spans around 20 dishes. The meal is currently $210 per person, with an option for matched alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks.
The four major influences of Enter Via Laundry are trade and migration, invasion, modernisation, and globalisation. The menu reflects this, showcasing ancient techniques, evolving recipes, local produce and a passion for sharing the rich history of food. It’s a truly unique experience, tracing the history, illuminating the culture and influences behind the cuisine.
On my visit, West Bengal was the region being spotlighted. Traditional dishes and a deep respect for history of the cuisine, evolved using Australian produce and native ingredients. It’s food that’s both of India and Australia, with Helly and her staff explaining each dish as it’s served. The origin of each dish, why certain Australian ingredients have been chosen, and how it’s evolved through history.
This meal included things like avocado galbi chat with Davidson plum, Masoor dal with desert lime, cumin, and red chilli, and marron malaikarri with garam moshla and cocnut.
The experience is humbling, educational, and thought provoking. Dining at Enter Via Laundry won’t just change the way that you think about Indian food, it’ll have you questioning certain narratives around food and culture in general. If you’re thinking that this all sounds too serious, don’t worry. None of this great stuff detracts from the fact that the experience is a whole lot of fun, and utterly delicious.
Enter Via Laundry
Rear, 527 Nicholson Street
Varies by week, disclosed on mailing list