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. Continue reading


Indian Accent III (Delhi, January 2023)

One of my very favourite meals of 2022 was eaten in Delhi in March: lunch at Indian Accent. That was my second meal at Indian Accent, the first having been eaten several years ago, when they were still in their original Friends Colony location, long before the international acclaim and the opening of branches abroad. Now, Indian Accent is in the swanky Lodhi Hotel (not that the previous location was not swanky as well) and is a mainstay on all those stupid “Best Restaurants in X” lists. I am generally skeptical of those lists but there’s no denying the excellence of the food at Indian Accent. Eight years passed between my first and second meal there, but given how good that second meal last year was, there was no way I was not going back again in January, this time with the missus in tow. Continue reading

Kwality (Delhi, January 2023)

On Friday I posted a report on our most recent lunch at one of our new(er) Delhi favourites, Cafe Lota. New(er) in the sense that it opened only a decade ago. Today I have for you a report on a much older Delhi favourite, Kwality, located in the Regal Building in Connaught Place. Often said to be Delhi’s oldest restaurant—though this doubtless depends on how you define a restaurant—Kwality opened in 1940 as an ice-cream shop. The ice cream, of course, went far past the shop and the borders of Delhi. Indeed, Kwality ice cream—and the men selling it from hand-pushed carts—was a major part of my childhood and that of many other Indians in cities and towns far from Delhi. The iconic ice cream business was sold off in the early-mid 1990s but the original location remains, if not in its original form. Continue reading

Cafe Lota VI (Delhi, January 2023)

As I noted in my review of Bhawan a couple of weeks ago, we’ve eaten at Cafe Lota in Delhi on every trip since right after it opened just about a decade ago. Indeed, it might be fair to say that in many ways it has been our favourite restaurant in Delhi over that span of time. This even though the original chef whose vision shaped the restaurant, Rahul Dua, left the restaurant a while ago (he’s now one of the people behind Bhawan, which is sort of in the Lota’esque mold). When our home base in Delhi was Noida, Cafe Lota was a fairly convenient place to meet friends. And part of our love for the restaurant does stem from the fact that we’ve eaten there with so many friends over the years. Now that our home base is quite a bit further away, in Gurgaon, you’d think we’d be less likely to choose it as a rendezvous point; but I ate there with friends on my solo trip to Delhi a year ago, and we ate there again with friends on our family trip this January. Herewith, the details of the most recent outing. Continue reading

Jamun, Again (Delhi, January 2023)

We ate at Jamun in Lodhi Colony with good friends on our last family trip in January 2020. We enjoyed most of that meal fine but didn’t think it was anywhere we needed to get back to in a hurry. But we did go there again on this family trip as another set of good friends picked it as ideally situated between them and us, both of us being located at different ends of the vast Delhi NCR (National Capital Region). This time we were there for lunch, and on a Sunday. This meant that the traffic was not nightmarish getting there, and that the restaurant was not very full when we arrived (we were eating on American time). How was the meal? Read on. Continue reading

India’s Gandhi Tandoori Bollywood Mahal (Minneapolis; One Night Only)

Earlier in the month I’d announced that I’d be doing a pop-up dinner with Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis, centered on Indian cooking of the type I mostly do at home. The pop-up took place this past Friday evening. 70 diners, spread across two seatings, ate a range of dishes served over four courses. I was very nervous going into this project—though much less so the closer we got to the night of—but I thought it went very well. Not all the diners may agree, of course, but I was very happy with the food as cooked by the restaurant under my direction and thought the menu hung together well.

If you follow me on Twitter or on Instagram, you may have already seen/scrolled past my recap of the experience, but I thought I’d put it together on the blog as well in one, more readable package. Here it is. Continue reading

Matamaal (Delhi, January 2023)

We ate one meal out almost every day that we were in Delhi in January. Across all those meals there was only one restaurant that we went to more than once: Matamaal. This is partly because their location in the City Court mall in Sikanderpur is a scant 10 minute drive from my parents place in Gurgaon; but it’s mostly because they serve excellent Kashmiri food. Indeed, they may be serving the best Kashmiri food I’ve eaten in Delhi over the years. It helps too that it’s a very nice space and the prices are very reasonable. There’s also a small shop adjoining the restaurant where you can buy ingredients, baked goods and more. Continue reading

Oh! Assam (Delhi, January 2023)

Okay, let’s get the Delhi restaurant reports started, and unlike with the reports from December’s southern California sojourn, let’s begin at the beginning: with our first meal out, at Oh! Assam in Humayunpur.

No prizes for guessing what kind of cuisine the restaurant serves. Even as the foods of the North Eastern states have become more visible in Delhi, there aren’t that many places to eat Assamese food. Back in 2014, I reported on a lunch at Jakoi, the restaurant in the Assam Bhavan in Chanakyapuri. That meal, I said, was more interesting than good. I was therefore curious to see what things would be like at an Assamese restaurant in Humayunpur, which is now the major centre of North Eastern food (and life) in Delhi. And so we arrived at the restaurant on our first full day in the city, determined to go out into the weak January sunlight in an attempt to synchronize our body clocks with the local time. Herewith, the details. Continue reading

Twin Cities South Asian Restaurant Rankings, 2022 Update

Here is the third edition of my Twin Cities Metro Indian/South Asian Restaurant Rankings. I posted the original in December 2020 and the follow-up in December 2021. At the end of that 2021 update I promised various things that I would do before the 2022 update. These included checking out the a la carte offerings from a couple of places I had only tried the lunch buffets at; trying the prominent Nepali restaurants in the metro; checking out Raag, Pizza Karma and the Muddy Tiger food truck; and checking out a location each of the Taste of India and India Palace chains. I am pleased to tell you that I only got around to doing one of these things: getting takeout from the India Palace in Burnsville. We had plans to eat at Everest on Grand and Himalayan that fell through at the last moment on a couple of occasions; and I only discovered at the end of the year that Muddy Tiger had been showing up regularly outside a bar in our town! I would promise that in 2023 I will keep the promises I made for 2022 but best not to over-extend myself. Continue reading

NY Gyro (Columbia Heights, MN)

I’ve been planning to eat at NY Gyro for a few years now. I heard about them about the same time that I heard of Original Mediterranean Grill in New Brighton: two restaurants whose names indicate Mediterranean menus but which in fact are also Pakistani restaurants. Original Mediterranean Grill’s Pakistani fare—especially their halwa-puri—did not disappoint in the second year of the pandemic; and I cannot explain why it took me another year to finally eat at NY Gyro. Well, actually, I can: with the opening of desi and Korean groceries south of the river (TBS Mart, Mantra Bazar, Hana Market), we have had very little motivation for a long time now to make the trek up to Columbia Heights as we once used to do regularly to shop at Pooja Grocers and Dong Yang. But now NY Gyro might become a reason in its own right. I first ate there by myself a couple of weeks ago. I liked what I got so much that I dragged the family and some friends there with me this past Sunday for a meal that became a very good celebration of Argentina’s World Cup win. Herewith the details. Continue reading

The Weekday Lunch Buffet at Kumar’s (Apple Valley, MN)

Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll be posting the 2022 edition of my Twin Cities South Asian/Indian restaurant rankings. Those who’ve read the original list and my 2021 follow-up will recall that I placed Kumar’s in the second tier in both. In the interim their profile seems to have gone up a bit. I believe they were named the best Indian restaurant in the region in some poll or the other—and I’ve been seeing their name pop more and more on food groups on Facebook. Not having visited or gotten takeout from them yet this year, it seemed appropriate to check them out once more before updating my 2022 list. I’d hoped to get the usual crew together for a weeknight dinner but when I found myself in the area in search of a meal at lunch time last week, I decided to stop in by myself. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Dosa (Bloomington, MN)

Dosa opened on Lyndale Avenue in Bloomington about five months ago and is one of the latest manifestations of the ongoing phenomenon of South Indian restaurant openings in the Twin Cities metro. I have not yet been able to confirm or quantify this with numbers from the latest census, but my observations indicate that the Indian population of the area continues to grow and that this growing population is not just largely South Indian but likely dominated by people from Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. Unlike many of the other relatively recently opened South Indian restaurants, however, Dosa is not—as far as I know—part of a franchise. At least, their website makes no note of any affiliation. So in this they are closer to Kabob’s Indian Grill (also in Bloomington) than to Kumar’s in Apple Valley or Godavari in Eden Prairie. We had a very nice meal there this past weekend with good friends and I am happy to be able to recommend them to anyone looking for good Indian food in the area. Continue reading

Ambala Sweets & Snacks (Los Angeles, June 2022)

Here is a quick look at my solo Father’s Day brunch in Los Angeles in June. Why solo? Well, we’re not really into the Mother’s/Father’s Day stuff in our family in normal times—and when we’re in Los Angeles we’re really not: I’m still outranked by Jebus, you see. I did manage to wiggle out of attending my mother-in-law’s church that Sunday and—in proper Old Testament style—offering up the boys as a sacrifice, I made my way to Artesia for some chhole-bhature. My port of call was Ambala Sweets & Snacks. This was a nostalgic return to one of the OG Indian establishments of Pioneer Boulevard. Of course, like the rest of Pioneer Boulevard, it’s become much shinier than it used to be back when I used to eat there every few months in the 1990s. Continue reading

Indian Accent II (Delhi, March 2022)

Sorry for the whiplash but we’re going back to the food reports from my trip to Delhi in March. I posted reports on most of those meals at a steady clip in March and April and then ran out of steam before getting to the last two. That’s not because these were the least memorable of the meals. Well, this one at Indian Accent certainly was not—and I’m not just saying this on account of a piece of high-concept unintentional comedy involving a napkin that was almost the highlight of the meal (more on this below). No, it was one of the best restaurant meals I’ve eaten in a while. Indeed, though this meal was not quite as extensive as our first dinner there in 2014, I may have liked it even more. And it made me rue the fact that we/I had not gone back to eat there in the eight years following. Continue reading

The Return of the Weekday Lunch Thali at Kabob’s Indian Grill (Bloomington, MN)

Let joy be unconfined: the Twin Cities metro’s greatest lunch deal is back! Yes, I refer to the weekday lunch thali at Kabob’s Indian Grill in Bloomington. I have reported previously on these excellent thalis that I first ate in 2019 (see here and here). In late 2020 it was still available in to-go format (which I duly took advantage of). But then it went away. And even when in-person dining returned to Kabob’s last year, the weekday thali did not—though it was replaced by a new weekend thali served on banana leaves. I don’t mean to suggest that this was the worst restaurant-related development during the pandemic but it certainly was the one that impacted my life the most. Imagine my excitement then on seeing the restaurant announce on its Facebook page a couple of weeks ago that the weekday lunch thali was returning. I showed up as soon as I could to eat one and then again a week later. Here is my brief report on those meals. Continue reading

Bukhara (Delhi, March 2022)

After a break last weekend it’s back to my restaurant reports from my two-week visit to Delhi in March. I’ve previously reported on meals eaten out at Comorin, Cafe Lota and Carnatic Cafe—and also on a takeout biryani blowout. I now have three reports to go and the first of them is of what was once the most celebrated high-end restaurant in Delhi: Bukhara at the ITC Maurya hotel. I last ate there more than 20 years ago. There was a time when eating there (or at its Awadhi sibling, Dum Pukht) was a highly aspirational thing for me but as the Delhi restaurant scene has exploded in the intervening period it hasn’t really felt like a return to Bukhara (and its very high tarifffs) was very urgent. However, when we were in Calcutta in January 2020 we ate at Peshawri at one of the ITC hotels there and it was truly a fabulous meal. (In case you’re wondering, to preserve the Bukhara branding, names like Peshawri are used for restaurants at ITC’s other properties that present that menu.) And so when I reminded my strapping young nephews that despite having become working professionals they were yet to buy me a fancy meal, it was at Bukhara we ended up. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Biryani and Kababs (Delhi, March 2022)

I ate out a fair bit in Delhi in March but I ate at home more. One of those meals eaten at home, however, also featured restaurant food. Or to be more precise it featured food from a number of different restaurants. You see, my sister’s birthday fell during my trip and it was the first time in more than 30 years that I was in the same city as her (and my parents) on the day. And as one of her absolute favourite foods is biryani, we decided to do an extended family gathering at my parents’ place centered on biryani. My nephews were tasked with ordering the biryani. Their first thought was the popular chain, Biryani By Kilo, but they readily admitted that they had not tried a whole lot of alternatives in Gurgaon. Accordingly, I put the question to Twitter and when a large number of other places received votes it seemed only right to order from as many of them as possible. And that is how we ended up with seven different biryanis from five different restaurants. And to be safe I also ordered a bunch of kababs from the closest location of the venerable Al Kauser. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Cafe Lota V (Delhi, March 2022)

Cafe Lota may be my favourite restaurant in Delhi. I’ve eaten there on every trip since we first ate there in 2014—in some cases more than once. Part of our affection for it is that it is attached to the Crafts Museum, one of Delhi’s less visited treasures—and the restaurant itself is beautiful. Part of is that we’ve eaten there with so many good friends over the years. And a large part of it is the food, which is always excellent, always interesting and always an object lesson in the fact that a restaurant specializing in contemporary Indian food does not have to run away from “tradition”. One of the still remarkable things about Lota is how easily and seamlessly they present traditional dishes from different parts of India—sometimes in traditional guises, sometimes in updated presentations—alongside more mod’ish takes. As I noted at the end of my review of my meals at Comorin on this trip, the kind of thing Comorin is doing was really pioneered by Lota, and I think I prefer Lota’s version of it. You can go eat a Himachali thali and you can go eat bhapa doi cheesecake or apple jalebis—all of which I ate on this trip with some of my closest friends and fellow Lota aficionados. Between the laughter and the food, it was a wonderful meal and I can’t wait to do it again in January. Continue reading