In a city overloaded with facsimile Indian menus, Abhi's comes as a surprise. The first sign that something special is afoot is the loyal clientele that packs out this 22-year-old North Strathfield stalwart night after night. The well-presented interior and attentive service are a notch above its suburban counterparts, but it's the food that's the real star. Owner-chef Kumar Mahadevan trawls Indian regional cooking for inspiration to produce cleverly presented dishes with clean, distinct flavours. It all works, from a single-note masala dosa to thin-skinned blue swimmer crab patties with just enough chilli and ginger to lift the dish without overwhelming the crab. Madras prawn vendakai (prawn and okra curry) is a sure-fire crowd pleaser, while a Punjabi-style goat curry has a good, laidback kick to it. For dessert, think beyond the usual kulfi or gulab jamun and try the subtly rosewater-flavoured bread pudding with rose petal ice-cream.