Master Chef Rudolph Matthews adores the cuisine from his hometown so much, he just can't stop making it. He's passed down this fever to his sons as well. At A Taste of the Island Restaurant, his sons Kevin and Dashaan assist Chef Matthews in dishing up authentic Jamaican food. They make dishes such as curry goat and brown stew chicken fresh every day, not photocopied from a photocopy. One specialty, the jerk chicken, gets soaked in traditional spices before being flame-grilled.
At Tasty Curry, the air is filled with the smells and sounds of delicious, traditional Indian cuisine such as the aroma of creamy tomato gravies, rich spice blends, and zesty ginger, and the crackling sizzle of naan loaves, paneer, and chicken cooking in a clay oven. Throughout the space, vibrant colors pop out everywhere, from the rich, earthy red of the tandoori-roasted chicken, the yellows of daals and vegetable stews, and the deep green of the wallpaper, decorated with geometric designs. Friendly servers suggest popular feasts from the impressive menu, or lay out all-you-can-eat buffets of minced goat, homemade farmers' cheese, and chicken tikka.
Curry Curry Thai wraps snouts in an aromatic spread of handpicked spices and pleases bellies with market-fresh vegetables and proteins served in traditional Thai style. Both the Smyrna and Marietta menus kick-start meals with appetizers including satay chicken, skewers of grilled, marinated chicken buttressed by peanut sauce and cucumber salad ($5.95 for five), and fresh-basil rolls, rice paper wrappers filled with shrimp and veggies ($3.95 for two). Curries, noodles, and fried rice dishes make filling entree options for vacant stomachs or empty fanny packs. Scoop up a bundle of pineapple fried rice—a vibrant potpourri of pineapple, onion, beans, carrots, black pepper, and curry powder ($7.95 for lunch, $9.95 for dinner)—or lap up a bowl of red curry—a mixture of coconut milk, bamboo shoots, and red and green bell peppers ($6.95 for lunch, $8.95 for dinner)—in an effort to prove dominance over utensils.
At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.
Chandeliers illuminate red, tufted booths and draped walls replete with golden Buddhas, Middle Eastern art, and woven-wood panels. Such touches earned Tantra an "Extraordinary-to-Perfection" decor rating from Zagat and OpenTable’s Diners’ Choice Award for romantic restaurant. The eatery also received high praise for its service and food. Drawing from his training at the Culinary Institute of America, chef Dwyer caramelizes scallops in a basil rub, grills ostrich filets, and stuffs pork tenderloins with quince and fennel, using these distinctive combinations to bring out unexpected flavors and baffle blindfolded taste testers. On the first Tuesday of every month, these dishes couple with tango dancing to add an extra layer of romance and spontaneity to dinner dates.
At Niramish, turmeric bursts in sunset hues in curries. Mango and pineapple cut the spice in cool chutneys, and the aromas of ginger and garlic tangle in the air. Those scents drift from clay-oven tandoori dishes, curries, and fried rice. The dishes range from mild to hot and spicy, with mango lassis and buttered naan bread soothing palates still a-tingle from plates of tofu vindaloo cooked south-Indian style.