Under the guidance of the Sarma brothers, who own and operate Haveli Indian Cuisine, the chefs take care to turn out traditionally crafted Indian dishes that showcase tender lamb and chicken baked in clay ovens. Each geographic region of India has its own variation on common recipes, and Haveli's menu mirrors this broad culinary scope. Plates of vegetarian saag paneer spice up spinach cooked with cubes of cheese, and fiery vindaloo entrees send bites of shrimp or chicken blazing across taste buds. Platters of rich curries and sides, such as freshly baked roti or samosas, keep the lunch buffet packed for people on a break from work or spelunkers searching for something that's truly bottomless.
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.
Udipi Cafe's traditional Indian ingredients and recipes form the basis of its expansive menu of flavorful vegetarian delights. Serenade taste sensors with appetizers such as a delectable potato-cauliflower duet of aloo gobi ($8.50) or the broad tasting board of the assorted sampler platter ($7.95). Dry and spicy chickpeas swim in a pond of piquant curry sauce in the chana masala curry ($8.50), which pairs pleasantly with a side of paratha bread ($1.95). Indo-Chinese specialties transport diners to the northern climes of the subcontinent with flavor combinations such as vegetable hakka noodles ($7.95), and dinner specials fill traditional platters with offerings such as the royal madras special thali and royal south indian thali ($13.50 each).
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.
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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.