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Chapel Hill: Tandoor

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  • David A. Oct 8, 2002 08:21 PM
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The wife and I tried Tandoor on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Sigh...yet another mild disappointment. We had Tandoori chicken, saag paneer, lamb rogan josh, and naan. The meal was certainly plentiful, but it was nothing to remind one of England (where I lived for five years) much less India (as I imagine it, or perhaps romanticize it). Most of the meal hovered in the so-so range: not good enough to repeat, not bad enough to regret with much emphasis. Strangely, the Tandoori chicken, apparently the house speciality, was the most disappointing of our dishes. It seemed to be coated with what reminded me of Chinese char-siu sauce(i.e. that red sparerib sauce), kind of sweet, certainly lacking the smoky, slightly burned, slightly tangy, slightly lemony flavor I associate with Tandoori chicken, and love dearly.

Does anyone have any better recommendation when it comes to Indian?

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  1. Sitar India Palace in Durham was good the one and only time my wife and I tried it (which was fairly recently). Southern Indian, so they serve masala dosa and do a passable job on it. The entrees were very good, the portions generous, the service competent and friendly. We'll definitely go again.

    http://www.sitarindiapalace.citysearc...

    The only other Indian place in the Triangle that ever did anything for me was a dumpy little dosa house in Cary, and it has since closed or changed management and menu, or something to that effect. It isn't there any more, is what I'm getting at.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tom from NC

      good Indian food in the Triangle. Of the 8 or so restaurants that I've tried, I think it's a tie between Sitar India Palace (SIP) in Durham and Royal India Cuisine (RIC) in N. Raleigh.

      I think SIC has better food. The owner is a South Indian but went to college in Calcutta and married a Begali woman, so his menu choices cover a broader range of Indian dishes. I especially like SIC's bagun bharta (mashed roasted eggplant curry) and navrathan curry (vegetables in a creamy curry) and vegetable korma (mixed vegaetables and fired lentil balls, kinda like falafels). But the ambience and decor of the place is rather sparse.

      I have only eaten at RIC once. I give the nod to RIC for an overall Indian dining experience. RIC is deocrated with large black and white photos of the Indian Raj during the British empire. Carved wood painted white covers the windows to block out the strip mall environment outside. The aromas made me salavate as soon as I entered. The food arrives in cute little copper pots. We had plain and garlic nan (best in the Triangle), chicken tikka masala, navarathan curry, palak paneer, and a curry with chickpeas and potatoes. We asked for medium heat and the food was quite spicy. The curries tasted good but they all seemed to taste rahter similar. Citysearch patrons seem to knock RIC for its service but our service was excellent, better than SIP's in fact.

      David, forget about getting Idian food like you get in London (and it's even better in Birmingham). Actually, except for perhaps the five star hotels in Delhi and Bombay, Indian food in England is far better than what I have gotten in India.

      1. re: Sant

        Many thanks for this extremely helpful response. We will definitely give these recommended restaurants a try.

        David A.

        1. re: Sant

          I'm fascinated by the good response (relatively) that Sitar India Palace has received. My wife and I have been there maybe three times and must be picking the wrong things. Their dosas (dosa? dosae?) were good, but most of the dishes we've tried (mostly vindaloos and the aforementioned vegetable curry) left us cold. (well, the vegetable korma left me cold, my wife loved it)

          Royal India has become sort of a hot spot in my group of friends and even though the food seems only slightly better than SIP I really prefer the atmosphere.

          I usually try to wait until I'm going to D.C. for Indian.

      2. Make it yourself. Go to Wright Way books website and get the how to make Restaurant quality Indain food at home. My friend from Birmingham England the (Curry Capital) of the world outside of India itself gave me a copy for Christmas a few years ago. I use it all the time and my friends thank Im the business. Good luck if you read this

        1. This has to be a record for ressurecting an old post.

          Apparently there's a Southern Indian place called Udipi in Cary that (according to David A.) is one of the best restaurants in the Triangle area.

          I intend to try Udipi as one of my very first restaurant outings once I finally relocate to the Triangle next Tuesday. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to Saravana Bhavan, which is wonderfully good and intensely popular, especially among the large Southern Indian population ...with a two-hour wait on weekends here in the SF Bay Area (Sunnyvale), http://www.saravanabhavan.com/br_usa.htm

          1. Well, I can assure you;
            that you are going to be very happy indeed. I've frequented Saravana Bhavan aka Dosa Hut in NYC & never thought there'd be better....But Udupi is it! Every blasted item comes in there fresh & then they make it; chutneys, pickles the works on top of splendid Dosas, Uttapam, & the beloved iddly & of course hot homemade halwa for dessert.

            You cannot do better than Udupi Cafe! Also you can buy any spices- curry leaves, iddly trees in the shops nearby.
            if you want real Indian recipes this is the only place to go:
            http://forumhub.com/southfood/ the Tamil forum..
            Rory

            1. I liked Spice and Curry in Durham, which is a lot closer to Chapel Hill than Udipi. It beat all but one place in New York (Dosa Diner), but NY doesn't actually have great Indian food.

              1 Reply
              1. re: fara

                Spice and Curry is pretty damn good, had some hit and misses there. its the meat-eating sister restaurant of Udupi (i believe)

              2. As with other cuisines, regional variations can't be neglected when making these comparisons. I don't think it's fair to group all the restaurants in the Triangle together when talking about Indian food -- Udipi is hands-down the best ... the best South Indian. Places like Sitar & Royal India, on the other hand, are where you want to go for Northern and/or carnivorous styles. Especially Royal India Palace, which doesn't get nearly enough mention on here -- note the mentions above are from 3 years ago, and there's probably not much else on this board since then. While the atmosphere is nice in there, I could care less. Don't miss ordering the keema.