Food Porn: India Gate

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This past Sunday night I was relaxing and watching The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network (a guilty pleasure of mine).  The challenge for the evening involved making a 5 course meal inspired by Indian cuisine.  As soon as I was finished with the show I had a craving for Indian food.  Now I get odd cravings often, however, Indian food is not one that frequently surfaces.  I generally opt for some Thai curry in lieu of Indian, however this time I had the feeling Thai wouldn’t suffice.  Instead of opting for a few other Indian places that were rated slightly higher by other food blogs, I decided to go with India Gate, mainly because of its location is next to my house as well as the great price they offer on their lunch buffet.  India Gate is located at the end of the “Elmwood Strip” right next to Mr. Goodbar and Coles (Coles website is no more).  I have to admit that when I arrived I started to second guess my choice a bit due to the outside looking more like a dirty old bar than a restaurant that I wanted to eat in.  However, I forged ahead and was pleasantly surprised after going inside.  The dinning area is decorated very nicely and the place is extremely clean and had a very friendly staff.

I opted to go for the lunch buffet instead of ordering off the menu so that I would have an opportunity to try many of their dishes.  Plus you couldn’t beat the price of $8.95 and combined with the $1 off coupon you can print off the website, it made for a pretty inexpensive lunch.

First trip up the buffet I opted to go for a salad with their house yogurt dressing, some basmati rice, chicken tandoori, chana saag, a trio of their sauces and of course some hot fresh naan bread (I’m a naan bread freak).

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Salad top, tandoori left, chana saag bottom, and basmati rice right.

As you can see, Indian food is not always the most aesthetically pleasing, yet don’t be scared, dive right in.  The salad and yogurt dressing was pretty standard.  The dressing was fairly sweet and pretty tasty.  The chicken tandoori was a bit of a let down.  It is one of their signature dishes and yet the chicken was pretty dry and under seasoned.  The basmati rice was also your standard basmati rice, but I found a great vessel to scarf down the mint chutney sauce that they served on the side.  The mint sauce was fantastic; sweet, savory and delicious.  The last thing on the plate was the chana saag.  Chana saag, for those who aren’t familiar, is cooked and curried spinach with chic-peas.  It is one of my favorite Indian dishes and didn’t disappoint.  The first time you eat it the texture may freak you out a bit, but I highly recommend trying chana saag at any Indian place you may be at.  It is very savory, heavily spiced, and at the end hits you with a little heat.

The second trip to the buffet I opted for some beef vindaloo, chicken malai, tofu achari and some rice pudding for dessert.

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Chicken malai left, beef vindaloo bottom, tofu achari right and rice pudding top.

Chicken malai is described as a chicken breast sauteed in coconut cream and spices.  It was pretty tasty, however I am a fan of anything cooked in coconut cream/milk.  It was thick and very saucy (as you can tell by the dishes running into each other on the plate).  I was excited for the beef dish (the vindaloo is described as beef cooked in a spicy hot tomato-based sauce) due to my love of everything spicy.  This was the most disappointing dish I tried during my lunch.  The beef was very dry and the sauce was both unflavorful and had no spice what so ever.  Perhaps they forgot to add some ingredients because it tasted like nothing.  The tofo achari turned out to be my favorite dish of the afternoon.  It is described as tofu served and cooked in a pickle sauce.  The pickle sauce was sweet and sour and then ended with a background spice.  It was very flavorful and the tofu was cooked very well.  I ended the meal with a few bites of the rice pudding and my Indian food craving had been satisfied.

India Gate definitely wasn’t the best Indian food I have ever had, yet far from the worst as well.  However the great pricing and the very convenient location make the India Gate a very viable option.  I would recommend heading to the place between 11am and 230pm for their very inexpensive lunch buffet which they serve 7 days a week.  Don’t be put off by the disaster that is the outside of the restaurant and head in for a fairly good Indian feast.

Cheers!

India Gate on Urbanspoon

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