My survey of the new wave of Indian restaurants in the Twin Cities continues. Next up, the Plymouth location of yet another US franchise that has come to the Twin Cities suburbs in the last few years: Hyderabad House. Well, I guess their full name is Nawabi Hyderabad House Biryani Place but that’s a bit of a mouthful and “Hyderabad House” is how they answer the phone. They have actually been around in the area longer than both Godavari—which opened this September in Eden Prairie—and Kumar’s—which opened last October in Apple Valley. Hyderabad House first opened in early 2018 in Minnetonka and then in late 2019 they opened this second branch in Plymouth. That should give you a sense of the likely presence of the intended desi market in the general area, given that the two locations are just about 10 minutes drive from each other. The first wave of the pandemic resulted in both locations closing at the end of March and then in May only the Plymouth location opened back up, first to take-out, then to dine-in and now back to take-out only. As to whether the Minnetonka location will reopen, I don’t know but I’m hoping it will as we quite liked the food we picked up from the Plymouth location last weekend and the other location is 10 minutes closer to us.
This distance is why it has taken me so long to get around to checking them out. The last time we drove to Plymouth for Indian food it was to Bawarchi and while we liked it, it wasn’t anything that seemed like it was worth a 2 hour roundtrip. As to whether Hyderabad House is worth the longer drive over either Godavari or Indian Masala in Maplewood/Woodbury, I’m not sure but it was a better meal than our lunch at Bawarchi several years ago.
Before I tell you what we got, another quick reminder of how under the local mainstream media’s radar the recent explosion of high(er) quality Indian restaurants in the Twin Cities metro remains. As I noted in my Kumar’s write-up from last year, while the mainstream food writers remain focused on the Twin Cities, it’s the suburbs where the growing Indian population is clearly going—the rise in restaurants and grocery stores are leading indicators. And as I’ve noted before as well—in my write-up of TBS Mart in Bloomington—the local groceries—like the new restaurant franchises—are also obviously increasingly focused on a South Indian clientele, and specifically, seemingly an Andhra one. Godavari is an Andhra-focused franchise and so is Hyderabad House (as the name would suggest).
All these places serve the North Indian curry house classics that most American diners and most American food writers continue to associate with Indian food—and if our kids’ tandoori chicken and naan are any indication, they do them well. But their real calling cards are their South Indian non-veg dishes from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. (Interestingly, Malayali restaurants (serving the food of Kerala) don’t seem to be as present in the broader American market.) Like Kumar’s, the Hyderabad House franchise is Texas-based. In addition to a number of outlets there their greatest presence is up the center of the country, a state or two east and west of Highway 35 which runs from Texas to Minnesota.
Disappointingly—as at Bawarchi a few years ago—the franchise templated menu seems to mean very few Hyderabadi or more broadly Andhra, or even more broadly, South Indian vegetarian entrees. For a place to name itself Hyderabad House and not serve at least mirchi ka salan or baghare baingan doesn’t seem right. They try to make up for this by offering a large variety of biryanis—from the classic Hyderabadi dum biryani to less well-known (outside Andhra Pradesh) regional variants. The non-veg sections of the menu are similarly more robust with a number of Andhra—and also some Chettinad—selections. We ordered largely from this part of the menu and also, of course, got some tandoori chicken and naans for the boys.
Highlights included the Rayalseema kodi vepudu, a moist stir-fry of chicken with chillies etc.; the Karaikudi chicken, a relatively mild Chettinad dish; the Ulavacharu chicken biryani, which is cooked in a stock made with horse-gram (not that I could tell its presence); and a very good mutton sukka. Of the other dishes nothing was bad or even close to it. The sambar was good, if a little on the blander side; and the gutti vankaya curry, made with ground peanuts and coconut was also tasty, if a little light on the eggplant. Well, maybe the chicken pepper fry was a bit anonymous. Alas, they don’t sell parathas as most of the other places do and so we ate everything with rice.
For a look at the food and at the restaurant’s interior and menu, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.
Oh yes, it was just the four of us eating. And this meant we ate delicious leftovers once a day for the next three days. A good deal for the price, which is on par with all the other contenders. Speaking of contenders, I am considering publishing my Twin Cities Metro Indian restaurant rankings. The only thing stopping me is that I have zero interest in (re)visiting the North Indian places that most non-Indians wax enthusiastic about. If I had to make a few stops to do my due diligence which would you say I should go to for sure? Please don’t say Dancing Ganesha.
Up next? Not sure but probably something from St. Paul.
Have you considered skipping the north Indian places and ranking only the southern Indian restaurants? I used to really enjoy eating at Udupi on Central just south of i-694 when it was operating a decade or so ago. It was so much more interesting than the mediocre butter chicken in the buffets at all the India X restaurants (where X can be substituted with Palace or Garden or Taste or …).
I’m not from India nor related to anyone from India, so I have no idea when it comes to authenticity. That said, the places I think of as north Indian in Minneapolis or St. Paul include the Nepali restaurants. The food seems very similar to my untutored palate. I’d suggest Gorkha Palace, Himalayan on Lake (food was good, service spotty) or in Dinkytown (an Indian restaurant attempts to Chipotle-ize) and Everest on Grand.
I second Jim’s suggestion. Forget the northern Indian places altogether or just rank one of two of a very short list suggested by people you trust.
Frankly, I’d be fine with a list that dismissed the lesser restaurants with something like, “If it’s not on my list, I’ve deemed it significantly below the quality/menu/whatever provided by restaurants on this list,” especially if you back that up with the kind of reasoning you’ve written in this blog.
I lived in Delhi for a year and absolutely love and miss real North Indian food. My favorite place was Chapati in Northfield which burned down a couple weeks ago and I don’t know if they’ll be back. Nearly every other Indian buffet or restaurant has been disappointing, not spicy enough or simply too Americanized. I appreciate your reviews and even though I don’t go anywhere including to pick up food, I won’t be able to go any time soon but will find your reviews when I’m free again.
Yes, the Archer House fire was a real tragedy. But while I wish the employees and owners of Chapati well I’m afraid I’ve always had a rather low opinion of their food, whether served at the buffet or a la carte. I have eaten there on numerous occasions over the last 13 years via work obligations—I’ve never reviewed them because I couldn’t bring myself to spend my own money on food I know I don’t like. Indeed we much preferred the long-defunct Kurry Kabab in Northfield, not that that was any great shakes either. For the kind of generic North Indian food served by Chapati I think it’s not hard to find better at a place like Bay Leaf in Eagan. Even the outpost of Darbar in Apple Valley–whose space is now taken up by Kumar’s—was far superior.
Sorry for this especially annoying opinion.
Re skipping revisiting the North Indian places for the rankings: I am more and more inclined to do that. I’ll state the limitations around the rankings and then people can yell at me for leaving out their favourite tikka masala-slinger.
I would second on recommending Gorkha Palace in NE. Excellent food over several tries.