Friday, July 27, 2012

Rich Indian Food at Tasty Palace

Sai Tanvi South Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon
EDIT: August 21 - The restaurant name recently changed from Tasty Palace to Sai Tanvi South Indian Cuisine.

At the time I wrote this, UrbanSpoon lists Tasty Palace Indian Cuisine as "closed". It may possibly have closed but just this past Thursday evening when I ate there with a dining group, the owner said the "grand opening" was officially on Friday, July 27th.
In any case, it's awfully easy to miss this place and walk by it even if you are looking for it. At the Old Orchard shopping mall, look for the liquor store in the corner. Tasty Palace is just next to it on the left.

Unless you go for "fusion" Indian, Indian food can often blend into a sort of same-ness, especially if you simply do buffets. I'm no Indian food connoisseur, so this post won't be about comparing Tasty Palace Indian Cuisine with other Indian restaurants. Many Indian restaurants are "North Indian" and there is no shortage of staple curries at Tasty Palace. However, they also have South Indian items such as dosas and Chicken 65. There is even a section of the menu which lists South Indian specialties. However, the average person isn't likely to really appreciate the difference, so let's just move on to the food.

The Culture Sponges dining group let the restaurant choose some appetizers for us while we decided on mains to share. It worked out to about 1-1/2 appetizers, one main, and on average one drink for everyone for $25 including tax, excluding tip. We were all pretty stuffed and we couldn't finish everything (in part due to the rice and constant supply of poori).
  • Poori
    • Instead of naan, we got quite a few baskets of this deep fried bread. Looks sort of like naan but thinner and oilier because it is deep fried instead of tandoori oven baked.
    • Because this is somewhat oily, I am not partial to it. Often I prefer bread to the typically more filling rice, but this time around I went with less rice instead.
  • Papadum
    • Very plain here, nothing really embedded in the mix, which also means it's not salty or bitter, which other papadum recipes can sometimes be.
  • Deep fried onion
    • Sort of boring. Unlike onion rings, the batter here is lighter and doesn't always entirely coat the short lengths of onion. Comes with a hot dipping sauce.
    • This was OK, but there are more interesting appetizers.
  • Chicken 65, Paneer 65
    • The "65" refers to it being battered, deep fried, and coated in a hot red sauce that is the same for both the chicken and the paneer (separate appetizers).
    • The paneer was strangely firm, and because of the firmness and texture, many of us initially thought it was chicken! Overall, quite a few people really liked the novelty of the deep fried paneer. Worth a try if you've never had it before. Eat it while it's hot to catch the cheese soft.
  • Apollo Fish
    • Tasted like battered and deep fried fish to me. Not thickly battered like fish-and-chips, though. Nothing to really write home about.
  • Ginger Fish
    • The chopped up ginger plus the sauce here made this smell and taste strangely like a western sweet-and-sour sauce. That the fish was battered and deep fried made the similarity so much more striking.
    • Other than the novelty of it feeling like a Chinese dish on an Indian menu, the only thing to recommend this appetizer is the ginger. If you like it, then it gives this fish appy a bit of a buzz without overpowering anything.
  • Curry
    • There was some lamb and goat curries and one or two others. The problem was that it seemed the base sauce was the same, so one bowl looked like another.
    • The sauce here is rich and somewhat thick, quite like a stew. Not watery at all, which is what you sometimes get in Indian restaurants.
    • Comes in two deceptively small bowls (one curry, one rice) but it's a filling portion for one person because of the rice.
  • Daal
    • Salty! No, really. It was surprisingly salty. You may want to consider asking them to go easy on the salt.
  • Biryani
    • Surprisingly good here, if you remember to dig deep into the large bowl that comes and mix the rice at the bottom (where the sauce and meat has typically settled) with the rest.
    • Doesn't have to be spicy to be tasty, but it can come with some heat-dissipating raita if you need it.
The menu is basically around $9-$10 for both appetizers and mains. Remember to choose your spiciness and try to convey it properly to the restaurant. Otherwise you might get cautious staff serving you "white girl spicy", as one of our dining group put it.

Overall this is a solid choice for an Indian restaurant outing. The price is reasonable and like any traditional Indian restaurant (we're not talking jazzed up and/or fusion places like Vij's), you are taken care of by the owners and you can count on waddling off very well-fed for your money.

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