Bamian Restaurant gained the attention of The Washington Post in 2006 when its traditional Afghan cuisine drew in an Afghan ambassador and embassy staff from Kuwait and Qatar. Plates teem with housemade flatbread prepared in a tandoor oven and kebabs grilled over open flames, earning the restaurant a "very good to excellent" Zagat rating. Vegetarian items include the sautéed pumpkin with yogurt and mint and hummus dusted with paprika.
The interior of Bamian Restaurant is elegantly decorated with leopard-print chairs in the foyer and sparkling chandeliers in the dining room. Gayot describes the restaurant as "large-as-a-barn and gussied up like a deb ready for a coming-out party." The large space includes a full dance floor, which lends itself to hosting large parties, wedding receptions, and rehearsal lunches to practice for dinner.
IndAroma's inventive chefs ferry flavors across culinary borders, regaling tongues with francophilicly enlivened Indian classics. The menu teems with curries, kebabs, naan pizzas, and succulent wraps, such as the marinated, tandoori-baked lamb kebab in cucumber sauce ($7.50), which provides the portable edibility of a laptop made of toffee. Rummage through the samosa chaat ($4.90), a treasure chest of chickpea curry, onions, mint, and spicy garlic-and-tamarind sauce or seek the comfort of boneless chicken biryani's flavorful warmth ($8.99). Petit fours and éclairs bask alongside a profusion of cakes each as sweet and unique as the fingerprint of an Oompa Loompa and served by the slice in flavors such as black forest, mango, and pistachio.
The blend of spices that defines Pan-Indian cuisine is on delectable display throughout Sangam Restaurant's multitudinous menu, filled with fresh fruits, savory meats, and satisfying lentils. Pair selections of 12 Indian-style breads (from $2) with first-course fare such as the aloo papri chat, a mouth-enticing blend of garbanzo peas, potatoes, savory crisps, taramind chutney, and rock salt ($4.50), or the pan-fried shami kebab, comprised of ground lamb, lentils, onions, and spices ($7.95). Extensive vegetarian-friendly selections (up to $9.95) delight eaters of meatless fare, while reactionary epicureans can set traps to ensnare traditional Indian fare, such as the madras chicken curry ($12.95) or the spicy lamb vindaloo ($14.95), both served lounging atop a decadent bed of basmati rice. A daily lunch buffet ($11.95) awaits daytime diners with tongue cravings that are torn between options due to stamp-licking accidents.
Two floors can accommodate 36 basketball teams—180 diners—at Zaika. But there’s an elegance that belies the size of the restaurant. Crimson and orange permeate the scene, with flowing, red curtains canopying booths. A high-sheen black bar points to a flat-screen TV, and much of the seating adjacent to that bar has enough cushioning to withstand being trod by a tank. Sprawling murals depicting starry skies suggest there might be even more space than seating capacity states. Named after a Hindi word meaning “taste” or “sense of taste,” Zaika unites aesthetic splendor with culinary splendor: it holds its chefs to high standards of both tradition and innovation, presented on a menu of creative Indian cuisine.
Toward the lavish dining room, which has hardwood accents as glossy as a freshly licked mirror, the complex aromas of Indian spices emerge from the kitchen. Those scents waft from a Calcutta specialty of raj kachori, filled with chickpeas, tamarind vermicelli, chutney, and yogurt, as well as chicken 65—spicy diced chicken tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. The chef’s special bakes in the traditional tandoori oven and features a whole red snapper, marinated and grilled, alongside malai kebab—cubed chicken breast marinated in a combination of yogurt, cream cheese, ginger, and mild spices.
The chefs at Delhi Club tingle taste buds with a menu flecked with expertly expressed spices. Steaming shrimp curry unfurls flavors against lips with slow heat and fresh baked Naan bread scoops up the sauces and flavorful gravies drizzled over lamb and chicken dishes. Located across the street from the Metro, the restaurant caters to commuters by serving many dishes “American style”, wrapping them in pita bread or serving them in a cowboy hat. Delhi Club’s universally-pleasing approach was also lauded by The Washingtonian, which described the restaurant’s style as “assertive cooking, intended for a knowledgeable audience, though it will be rewarding for diners innocent of the flavors of [India].”
If Cafe Taj’s large stone fountain could talk, the rippling waters would still keep mum, because the restaurant’s authentic Indian cuisine can speak for itself. Warm naan and whole-wheat roti sop up creamy curry sauce from main dishes, and the black tables are loaded down with charcoal-roasted tandoori dishes for pairing with both wine and beer from a fully stocked bar. After sating sugar cravings with rose- and cardamom-scented sweets, patrons can question servers about their catering services or use the dining room’s Romanesque columns to kick off a backflip in honor of an evening well spent.