this is one of the few places that we've been to for restaurant club that people say they used to come here a lot, and now don't... probably due to lack of proximity and the growth of indian restaurants in the twin cities.
at first i thought i hadn't been here since i used to work in the area in the late 90s when i used to come here for lunch almost weekly. at the time it was one of the few locally owned places and one of the even fewer non-american places in this area. maybe one of the longest standing indian places in the twin cities? perhaps? since apparently i can't remember things, or bother to look them up on my own web site (yes, i am that lazy), it turns out i was here about four years back for the buffet.
the buffet was always quite good, and it wasn't just the novelty factor. for years i held their palak paneer up as the one to beat. the naan on the buffet was never stiff from sitting out too long. the spice factor was just enough. they refilled water glasses (heh), and they switched up the choices quite a bit.
admittedly, at the time it wasn't the world's best-looking place (it looked every inch the former happy chef it was). now the outside still does, but they've painted, put up curtains, and gussied the place up a lot. it looks tons better. though i could live without the weird music- a combination of soft rock a la generic with a lot of power-ballad sounding things and an indian version thereof. very odd..
they don't have a dinner buffet, but i did my best to recreate it a bit by splitting the vegetarian dinner for two- samosas, two entrees with basmati rice, raita, two naans, and dessert for around $32. you do probably save a few bucks ordering it this way, and you also get a third dinner out of it to take back home, most likely. it's a lot of food.
a lot of the starch was standout. the served straight from the heat samosas ("crispy patties stuffed with potatoes and peas, lightly seasoned with spices") were the crispiest ones i've had. the shape they were in was a bit hard to deal with, but we managed. the garlic naan i found just ok, maybe a bit less garlicky than i would like. my favorite thing in the whole meal was the peshwari naan ("sweet naan stuffed with nuts and raisins and baked in tandoor"). with the mint and tamarind chutneys they would've made a great dessert, too. i could've eaten just that and been happy. and they also did a perfect job with the basmati rice.
though i didn't think it was up to what i remember it as (and i now lean towards dancing ganesha's version a bit more), the palak paneer ("garden fresh spinach and chunks of homemade cheese with touch of special sauce") could've used a bit more spiciness- we ordered medium, it tasted not quite that. the curry pakora ("fried vegetable balls prepared in a tangy yogurt sauce") was maybe a bit too lemony and again needed a bit more spice.
the raita ("yogurt with cucumbers and tomatoes") balanced everything nicely (though with more spice, it would've done so more... and now i'm done with that thread there...) and wasn't the somewhat sweet version that some places have. it tasted like they made it.
the non-naan (say that three times fast) dessert was the one that resembles the love child of donut holes and pancakes swimming in a bath of rosewater syrup, gulab jamun ("deep fried milk balls in sweet syrup"). when i used to get dessert here, it was just the rice pudding with a small hit of tamarind chutney. i will say out of all of the gulab jamun i've tried, these were the ones that were the best. and served warm, which i've not seen before. i think that helped a lot.
service was... well, ok. refills were not that speedy, for sure. but things got to the table quickly enough and dinner was paced well enough. from what i could tell there may have been only one server in the room- it wasn't packed but didn't feel emptyish until after 8 pm or so. and it was interesting to see pretty much families dining there for dinner, the lunch crowd is more worker bees.
on their web site, they say they have a location in woodbury, so apparently the one in eden prairie is not connected to this one. or maybe it is. who knows. it's not like web sites are always updated, n'est pas?
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