A giant mural of Buddha gazes upon diners at Bombay Dreams Restaurant, where chefs prepare both authentic and modern interpretations of Indian and Nepalese cuisine. Vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike can discover an appetite-quelling entree such as tender kadai lamb wallowing in spicy tomato gravy ($12.95) or the all-flora all-star chana masala, a roost of chickpeas twittering in an incubator of curry ($7.95). Like Midas visiting the YMCA, the chicken tikka masala ($11.95) swirls in a golden pool, and the palak paneer ($9.95) pairs cubes of cheese with curried spinach. With its vibrant red walls, sleek black chairs, and eclectic décor, this portal to the East provides a romantic ambiance for first dates and off-the-clock get-togethers between heroes and villains.
Namaste Nepal takes its name and warm ambiance from the reverent Indian greeting, "Namaste," but the piping-hot helpings on each plate transcend cultural and geographic labels. Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese recipes contribute to the menu, filling a flavor spectrum that runs from pleasantly tangy to sizzling hot. Each dish is prepped to order using natural ingredients and often prompts speculation as to the size of the kitchen's spice cabinet. Notes of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron tantalize the nose, underlined with the scent of charcoal-roasted meat—chicken, lamb, fish, and shrimp—cooked in the tandoor and marinated in creamy yogurt sauce.
Careful combinations of these herbs and entrees lead to staples such as chicken tikka masala, as well as specialties such as boneless lamb with red chili sauce and tamarind. One of several vegetarian offerings, muttar paneer pairs housemade cheese with green peas, and four types of samosas entice diners to start meals by biting into crispy shells instead of by inconspicuously gnawing the tablecloth. Guests also can peruse well-stocked buffets at lunchtime and order group platters for catered events.
The culinary composers at All Spice Indian Restaurant orchestrate a robust symphony of authentic Indian dishes on their multifarious menu. Meals start off with oceanic abandon with the fish pakora, golden fried fish fritters seasoned with Indian herbs and spices ($4.95/4–5 pieces). Vegetable entrees such as the nov korma, a mix of vegetables swirling in a cashew-based cream sauce ($9.85), awaken slumbering herbivorous appetites. The lamb vindaloo sees imported lamb from Australia slow cooking with herbs and spices ($12.95) before slow dancing with taste buds. For dessert, an order of gulab jamun, morsels of cheese that are deep-fried and dipped in a sweet cardamom sauce ($4.99), makes a more appropriate dining finale than running around the dining room with a sparkler. Ask a smiling staff member about the available selection of wine and beer and the rotating lunch buffet, available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
While growing up in a small village in Northern India, Brinda Dosanjh learned to cook by watching her mother and her grandmother prepare traditional Indian dishes, then re-creating each recipe herself. After moving to the United States, Brinda and her husband Ranjit, known as "Junior," opened India 4 U to share classic Indian recipes with the community. In the kitchen, cooks fire clay ovens to grill lamb kebabs, bake soft bread, and melt the icy hearts of misers staring in through the windows. Jumbo-prawn appetizers warm up palates for signature entrees of chicken tikka masala or vegetarian dishes such as bhindi masala—sautéed okra with onions and tomatoes—which can be accompanied by cocktails from the full bar.
Ginger, saffron, and other aromatic spices mingle in Hot Basil Cafe's kitchen, where chefs create dishes inspired by Indian and Thai cuisines. The kitchen maestros prepare Thai dishes such as cashew-nut chicken and spicy catfish, filling place settings alongside tiger prawns and cream pepper chicken baked in an Indian clay oven. They round out each meal with Thai-style iced coffee and indian fruit lassis, as well as wines and ice creams.