Kumar’s, April 2023 (Apple Valley, MN)

Here is a report on a recent, unplanned weeknight dinner at Kumar’s. I ended up here with a small group from work after we were thwarted in our attempts to have a decent sit-down dinner in our own town. This because the acceptable options were either closed (it was a Monday) or about to close (it was close to 8 pm by the time the event we were at ended). Rather than eat fast food we decided to drive 20 minutes to Apple Valley, to Kumar’s (which thankfully was still seating people when we got there a bit after 8.30). And so it was that I came to eat my first dine-in non-buffet meal at Kumar’s.

I had to double-check that that last bit is true; it is. My first report on Kumar’s—not too long after they opened in 2019—was of two thali lunches (the first their old weekday lunch thali and the second a weekend banana leaf thali). After that I had two pandemic takeout reports in 2020 (here and here). I then didn’t get back there till I ate the lunch buffet in late 2022. During that period Kumar’s profile has risen quite a bit: they’ve been named one of the best Indian restaurants in the Twin Cities metro in various lists. I am pleased to note, by the by, that the local food media seems to have finally woken up to the existence of non-cookie cutter North Indian restaurants in the Twin Cities metro. Both Eater and the Star-Tribune have recently listed some of the new(er) South Indian places in their roundups of the best Indian restaurants in the area. I’d quibble with some of their omissions and rankings but I’m just glad they are now aware that there’s more than tikka masala to be had and that the suburbs are the place to go for the best Indian food.

Alright, to our meal! We were a group of four and so did not do too much damage; though we were also not very retiring. The ordering was left to me (some might say it was commandeered by me—but, really, I do this selflessly for other people’s benefit). We started with the babycorn pepper fry. I had not had this before but one of the party enthusiastically recommended it (I am a benevolent dictator). It was tasty and would be particularly good as a bar snack with beer. This was followed by an order each of the mutton varuval and the chicken pepper dry (which was not actually dry at all). Both were very tasty. We mopped these up with two orders of Malabar paratha (two to an order).

The larger dishes included the Nellore chepala pulusu (an Andhra-style fish curry) and the kaara kolambu. The latter is a veg curry available with either eggplant or okra; we chose eggplant. This was not optimal ordering on my part, I have to admit: both of these being sour curries. It’s true that the source of sourness in the Nellore chepala pulusu was green mango but the profile ended up somewhat similar. The group enjoyed both dishes, however. Finally, an order of the mutton thalapakatti biryani. Made with the tiny-grained seeraga samba rice, this was very good. It was served with raita and a salna/gravy. Oh yes, I asked if we could get some sambar instead of dal and they kindly gave us some on the house.

For a look at what we ate, click on a pic below to launch a larger slideshow. Scroll down for service and cost and to see what’s coming next.

There were a few leftovers but we didn’t end up taking anything home. Service was very friendly and present, despite their being close to closing time. Price? One of my colleagues handled payment but I believe it was just about $100 before tip. Not bad at all for the quality and quantity. Based on this meal, I wouldn’t promote Kumar’s in my Twin Cities South Asian Restaurant Rankings (the 2023 edition will be forthcoming in December) but I’m also unlikely to remove them from the second tier, which is where they’ve been since the original edition of the list.

Alright, what’s coming next on the food front? Another Seoul report on Thursday and a Goa report on Sunday. If I have time I might squeeze in a report on Saturday from my recent New York/New Jersey trip, but I wouldn’t count on it. Next week’s Twin Cities report will likely be of Southeast Asian food of one kind or the other from St. Paul.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.