The Year in Pandemic Takeout


The year is almost done. It’s hard to say when the pandemic will be done though. I’m guessing we’re going to be in the mode we’ve been in for the last nine months till at least the start of the summer before vaccination gets more widespread and infection rates drop meaningfully. There will therefore be more accounts of pandemic takeout meals before it’s all over and we can go back to eating in restaurants with friends. Hopefully, the restaurants will all still be there too. There have been a number of closures in the Twin Cities over the course of the year but as far as I can make out the toll has been heaviest at the high end where there are higher overheads and tight margins. The smaller, immigrant-owned restaurants that we eat at most of the time seem to have mostly weathered the storm—so far (though it’s hard to tell with the minimal coverage of these places in the local media outlets which, by and large continue to identify the local food scene with high-end and white restaurants). And some new places have even opened at the height of the pandemic. Continue reading

Bawarchi (Plymouth, Minnesota)

Bawarchi: Chicken 65
As mentioned a few days ago, I am starting a slow-motion survey of some of the luminaries of the Indian restaurant scene in the greater Twin Cities metro area. Why? Read on. (Or if you want to just skip to the review of Bawarchi scroll down a fair bit.)

I’ve lived in the US for 21 years now and learned from experience long ago to avoid most Indian restaurants, regardless of location. Short version of the reason: almost all of them run the gamut from mediocre to very bad. And somehow, most American foodies don’t get this even if in the last 10-15 years their awareness of and ability to make meaningful distinctions with various other Asian cuisines has expanded dramatically. The most obvious and striking parallel is with China, another large country with a dizzying variety of regions and cuisines. While the dominant mode of Chinese food in the US is still the Panda Express model, the major metros have a fair bit of granularity, with Sichuan usually leading the way. Certainly, the knowledge base of the average American food writer and foodie is much higher re various Chinese cuisines than it used to be in 1993 (I take this arbitrary date as a reference point as that’s when I arrived in the US). The same, alas, is not true of Indian food—leave alone the average foodie I can’t think of a single well-known American food writer who can be trusted on Indian food. Continue reading