At each of Tandoori Times Indian Bistro’s three locations—including one nestled inside a Holiday Inn—crimson and cream walls surround tables weighed down with indian curry, rice, and tandoori dishes. While morsels of lamb, seafood, and chicken prepare for supper by bathing in aromatic indian spices, soft naan bread keeps diners entertained by diving into appetizers of mango chutney.
Patrons can let the wind sweep through their eyelashes on one of the outdoor patios or form their own sweet breezes by puffing out fruity plumes of a hookah smoke on the weekends. Belly dancers weave their way across dining rooms on select nights, which contributes to each location's traditional atmosphere and each diner's desire to enroll in belly-dancing lessons.
The bar’s hanging lights glow like down-turned tulips against cobalt walls. A plush corner nook invites lingering with low-slung tables and vibrant throw pillows. Peeking through the lattice of Guru Palace’s decorative blue dividers, patrons can catch an eyeful of the restaurant’s centerpiece, a sprawling wall mural of the Taj Mahal.
Surrounded by decor that the Phoenix New Times called “a deliberate antidote to the sameness that sometimes pervades local retail complexes,” patrons tuck into a menu of traditional Indian dishes. The paper also named Guru Palace Best Indian Restaurant of 2010, lauding foods baked in a traditional tandoori oven and a wide range of vegetarian options. The chefs at the eatery specialize in Mughlai cooking, and the dining room’s burgundy tablecloths crowd daily with fish and lamb entrees infused with ginger, cumin, and red chili. Warm], baked naan breads and samosas sop up sauce, and bottles of wine can raise spirits after the realization that a vehicle’s owner’s manual says nothing about driving underwater.
Upon arriving to the United States from Pakistan, Muhammed Samdani could only focus on one thing: how mediocre the local Pakistani cuisine tasted. Though the engineer had started to retrain in the American school system to get his American engineering degree, he was so appalled by the food that he completely had a change of heart and decided to become a chef.
He knew he could bring the authentic flavors of his Indian heritage and Pakistani homeland to the states, so he flew back overseas to India to study under three separate chefs. He eventually mastered their recipes—including a few secret family recipes given to him by the chefs—and came back to the States.
Now at Kabob N Kurry, his dishes embody the culinary traditions of Hyderabad and Delhi, with both well-known favorites, such as chicken tikka masala, and the less familiar, such as beef do pizza—clay-oven-baked bread stuffed with chicken and spices. Some of his dishes are so complex they need to be ordered 24 hours in advance of dining times, giving the kebabs time to soak up the flavors of the clay oven or to full absorb the sweet flavors of steamed saffron.
All of the meats used are prepared in the zabiha halal method. Those abstaining from meat can indulge in a variety of vegetarian dishes or delight their inner child and eat nothing but dessert.
Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen's four menu staples—the noodle box, curry box, rice box, and banh mi—span Asia's diverse culinary traditions. Health-conscious recipes and preservative-free ingredients create entrees such as the Dan Dan noodle bowl (only available at Wok Box's Scottsdale location), which tosses together Shanghai-style noodles with veggies, extra-spicy chili-garlic sauce, and the diners' choice of meats or tofu. Thai red curry with bean sprouts and sprigs of fresh herbs top bowls of rice, and chicken marinated in coconut milk and lemongrass fill Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Just because Wok Box boasts multiple locations doesn’t mean the menu is 100% streamlined. Each outpost adds unique entrees to its menu, such as Scottsdale’s cheese-kimchi fire balls—panko-breaded balls of rice, cheddar, and kimchi drizzled in sauces.
Photographs from Hong Kong's bustling streets decorate the walls in Scottsdale's Wok Box, which are lit with hanging Edison light bulbs. From their seats amid the dining room's stone and wooden furniture, patrons can admire chefs at work in a sleek open kitchen.
The chefs at Karaikudi Palace—named 2013 Best Indian Restaurant by The Phoenix New Times—pull their recipes from regions across India, from the spicy rasam soup favored in the south to the elaborate vegetable biriyani rice popular in the north. Offering both South and North Indian cuisine with a plethora of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, they fold lamb, seafood, and chicken into a variety of curry, vindaloo, and indo-Chinese dishes, favoring spices like chili, garlic, and cumin.
As they work, soft naan breads and tandoori meats cook in the tandoor clay oven. Meanwhile, customers eat a large variety of dosas out in the dining room, where Indian artwork speckles the walls. Beverages include sweet mango lassi and a selection of wine and traditional Indian beers. Tuesdays through Sundays, diners with a larger appetite can opt for the full lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.