Zaika Restaurant, Bar & Lounge dispatches halal meat and vegetarian Indian dishes to tables perched around a hardwood wraparound bar as patrons sink into petite leather chairs and plush booths. Diners savor lamb, chicken, and seafood that has been skewered, marinated in zesty blends, and seared in a traditional tandoor oven like Shrinky Dink maps of India crafted for PhD dissertations in geography. A painstakingly curated wine list, including organic libations, accentuates exotic flavors while six big-screen TVs and one behemoth 80-inch projection screen display athletic showdowns.
Skewers of chicken and shrimp simmer in a clay tandoor oven, filling the dining room with the heady aromas of ginger and cumin. Tandoor baking is one of many time-tested cooking methods that the chefs employ at Taste of the Himalayas, along with tossing shrimp with traditional Indian spices and stuffing steamed dumplings with minced cabbage and homemade cheese.
The restaurant's decor matches its cuisine with regards to cultural authenticity, with a mural of the Himalayan countryside spanning an entire wall with saturated blue skies and green foliage. Its swirling designs echo the curves of carved wooden chairs and heavy brass serving bowls, and white tablecloths are exact replicas of those worn by real Nepalese ghosts.:m]]
Passersby might be surprised to smell the aroma of curry drifting past the Corinthian columns and looming, arched windows of the former Citibank building, which now houses Namaste Madras Indian Cuisine. Although the restaurant’s owners have updated the building’s 1926 architecture with cherry-wood accents, a tandoor clay oven, and distinctly Indian decor, including bronze elephants and other statuary, the building still retains some of its original charm. While feasting on a fusion of Northern and Southern Indian cuisine, visitors can crane their necks upward to view the building’s original ceiling, whose ornate beams still display quotes by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Paul Bunyan, and other founding fathers.
At Namaste Madras Indian Cuisine’s daytime buffet, diners load their plates with piping-hot helpings before the dinnertime rush, when guests order from a menu of vegetarian and nonvegetarian specialties. Among the restaurant’s culinary gems native to the city of Madras, dosa conquers appetites with crepes fashioned out of fermented lentils and rice flour. Taste buds also awaken to the symphony of spices in traditional curries, biryani rice platters, and boneless lamb cooked in the restaurant’s tandoor clay oven.
The chefs of Himalayan Flavors replicate the Nepalese and Indian flavors of the mountains for which their restaurant is named and serve them at a more comfortable altitude inside the saffron-colored dining room. They denote the spiciness of their dishes with one to three chili peppers, with one pegging a mild, tame flavor and three peppers signaling that you shouldn’t whistle in an ice sculpture’s ear. The staff pairs steaming plates of lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, and shrimp korma with brown or basmati rice and a cup of complimentary lentil soup. To calm down the spicy tones of meals, the kitchen team pours glasses of mango lassi and dishes out syrupy bites of fried gulab jamun.
The chefs at Mint Leaf follow family recipes to fashion Northern Indian dishes with seasonal, organic produce, free-range meats sourced from local farmers, and spices handpicked by family back home in India. Kebabs spear mahi-mahi, chicken, and other meats marinated in a house-made yogurt sauce before baking in a clay tandoor oven. A collection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options eases the strain of dietary restrictions. Mint Leaf's selection of more than 50 wines and specialty cocktails helps temper the heat when guests get ambitious in selecting their meal's spice level. On select nights, local musicians entertain diners as they eat and inspire guests to break it down on the dance floor after finishing their meal or winning a game of I Spy.
Behind the glass counters of Urbann Turbann stand smiling servers, ready to customize wraps and rice bowls with a slate of traditional Indian dishes. They start with naan and roti breads, made fresh in-house, before wrapping them around tandoori chicken, spicy beef kabobs, pork vindaloo, or karahi paneer—fresh cubes of cheese stir-fried with onions and peppers. Then, they add organic produce to the mix, sprinkling on options such as masala potatoes, lettuce, and jalapenos. Finally, chutneys—such as sweet tamarind, spicy tomato and habanero, or mint and cilantro—are drizzled on top. Customers can opt for white or brown rice instead of wraps, and add chai or mango lassis to their meals.