Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Jan 6, 2007 05:13 AM

SD - Been To Bombay Lately?

So last week when in Hillcrest we noticed that Bombay had moved across 5th Ave to a more noticable location.
what a difference a Window Makes! I've been eating at this place for a a few years now and have never had to make a reservation, let alone wait 20 min. past a reservation time to get a table! I felt like I was at an LA Hot-spot. The restaurant still has excellent curries and naan, but the staff is all new, the ambiance is totally different and I'm not sure if the expansion is a good thing.
did the owners sell to Monsoon? Does anybody know what's going on with this place?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hey there, SRosie,

    My husband and I just ate there this past weekend, and I'm a big fan of the new decor and the increased capacity. Food is still good (ohhhh the Goa Fish is soooooo yummmmmmmmyyyy). You're right, the staff is mostly new, but to no negative effect it would seem, although my waitress asked every other server and bartender in the place about a drink that I could have sworn I used to get at the old location, called "monsoon rain" or something like that - it was to die for, but no longer on the menu - and everyone was too new to know. =( Also, they have flat-screen TVs in the corners near the ceiling, which was showing an annoyingly "strobe-y" U2 concert at the time we ate (good thing we're not epileptics)!

    As for the relationship to Monsoon (in the Gaslamp), the same owner opened Monsoon a few years back, and more recently opened Masala (also Indian and also in the Gaslamp) and Blue Ginger (Chinese, Gaslamp). Monsoon is great - try the Lamb Buffa - but I haven't been to either of the others. Given the choice between Bombay and Monsoon again, I will probably go to Monsoon for the atmosphere, lighting, and music, given the food is outstanding at both.

    Happy Chowing!

    1. I'm not Indian by birth, but I have lived there for several years. On the subcontinent, I've eaten in establishments ranging from fine dining in posh hotels to food stalls serving workers who make only $1 per day.

      While on jury duty, I once tried the buffet at Monsoon. It was the second-worst Indian food I've had in the US (not as bad as some place I tried in Atlanta). It was flavorless, heavy, and it gave me indigestion.

      Is there a significant difference in quality between the food off the menu and the buffet?

      Also, I tried Bombay once, right when it first opened. The food was the typical stuff served in the States: everything was made with cream, was under spiced, and over sweetened.

      Has Bombay improved?

      Most Americans have never had good Indian food that was also even marginally authentic, so I am always wary of Indian establishments that cater to non-Indians. Please advise.

      12 Replies
      1. re: notjustastomach

        We were watching U2 on the TV too so - we were either there at the same time, or maybe they just like that video (It's better with the sound on though)
        as for if Bombay has improved, It's been consistantly good since I've been going there. But I don't have any background to base it on, I think I ate at another Indian buffet at lunch (don't know the name, near banker's hill) and I like Bombay best.
        I had just been so suprised by the crowds when we were there the other night, I had to post something.

        1. re: notjustastomach

          I have recently been eating at a GREAT place called Gateway To India, up on Black Mountain Road. No question as to its authenticity, the clientele is almost exclusively Indian. It's located in a big building that it shares with Ker, which is an Indian grocery store.

          The buffet is $7 for lunch, and the dishes change frequently. I think I ate there 5 times the first week I found out about it.

          One nice thing is it seems to be a mix of some South Indian, and North Indian cuisine. One of the South Indian dishes they had was called yogurt rice, which was basmati rice in plain yogurt with brown mustard seeds and curry leaves. It was a really interesting blend of cool and spicy.

          Another nice thing about this place is the owner/chef comes around with piping hot naan fresh from the kitchen and brings it to you at the table. He also brings chapati, and sometimes paratha. The paratha is amazingly good, as is the naan. Chapati is also good, though a bit more healthy-tasting, if you follow me.

          I can't say enough good things about this place.

          1. re: Josh

            I've only recenly been directed to Black Mountain Rd. for food, beauty, culture....I'm on my way sooner or later... and I'll get back to you.

            1. re: Josh

              I haven't tried this place yet, but just wanted to add that I've recently heard 2 very glowing reviews. This seems to be the place to get the most authentic indian food here. I can't wait to go!

            2. re: notjustastomach

              You're correct. . .the Monsoon place is so bland, that people who eat there and have never tried Indian food before will come away with a totally false view of what Indian food's supposed to taste like. It's a cut above Dennys, as far as I'm concerned. Bombay always seemed a bit better--if not very interesting or authentic. It's comparable to people who declare that P.J. Chang is the best Chinese restaurant in San Diego. Clearly, they've never been to China--or even to Chinatown in New York or San Francisco or Monterey Park.

              1. re: sylny

                "Clearly, they've never been to China--or even to Chinatown in New York or San Francisco or Monterey Park."

                But who cares about those places if the question is "what is best in San Diego"? Your line should have been "Clearly, they've never been anywhere on Convoy". :)

                But back to the topic, it amazes me that given the fairly sizeable Indian population in San Diego, nobody has opened a place that appeals to the majority of the population. Even those that get a pretty decent reception on this board often get met with a lot of disagreement. Now, I know India is a pretty big place with a whole lot of people, and there are quite a few distinctive cuisines (sort of like comparing pizza to burritos to cajun food, I suppose), but nonetheless - what's the deal?

                1. re: RB Hound

                  There are good Indian places in San Diego. They best I've found are in the vicinity of Black Mountain Rd. and Mirarmar Rd.

                  1. re: Josh

                    "There are good Indian places in San Diego. They best I've found are in the vicinity of Black Mountain Rd. and Mirarmar Rd."

                    Sure, and they have been discussed many times in the past. But for the most part, they often get mixed reviews (e.g. "Ashoka the Average"). Some people like the Madras Cafe, but I've heard people (including quite a few Indians) really, really diss it. And some other small place in the area got a lot of raves recently, but then some people responded that they tried it, and didn't think it was all that great.

                    1. re: RB Hound

                      Ashoka is for Americans. I've heard pretty mixed reviews of Madras Cafe, too. However Surati Farsan was quite good, and my 7 or 8 meals so far at Gateway have been excellent.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Why has Gateway garnered so little discussion on Chowhound? It sure sounds like a place I would like to try.

                        1. re: RB Hound

                          I think probably many people don't know about it. It's not obvious from the street at all. It's inside the Ker grocery store. It's also vegetarian only, not sure if that would put people off.

                      2. re: RB Hound

                        "Some other small place" probably refers to Punjabi Tandoor.
                        We tried it and thought it really was great; full flavors and spice, and a great price. However, I have heard that it can be variable. They make most of their money on catering and sometimes are overwhelmed in the kitchen.

              2. Hi notjustastomach,

                Maybe we're not talking about the same Monsoon ... as far as I know, Monsoon has never had a buffet lunch. But of course, I've definitely been wrong before!

                Aside from the food being perhaps over-salted to accomodate American tastebuds, my Indian friends have enjoyed Bombay (they are Northern Indian). Granted, I've never heard them say "this is exactly like what I make at home," but I always enjoy what THEY make AND what I eat at Bombay! =)

                1. The owners of Bombay, Monsoon, and Masala are all related and in fact from I think it is strange that the food would be so Americanized if all the owners grew up in India. Perhaps the food is from a different part of India? I'm no Indian-food pro, but I have eaten at both Bombay and Monsoon and found the food to be very good. I also heard the sister of the three siblings cooks for perhaps the food tastes more like the authentic indian notjustastomach is use to? I have not eaten there but I would like to hear what others (who have eaten at all three) have to say about this. thanks! :)

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: foodpuppy

                    Most of those restaurants might have owners from India, but they definitely cater to a non-indian crowd. I'm Indian by birth and my previous experiences at Bombay (before it moved across the street), Masala and Monsoon is that they are exactly how notjustastomach described them. Creamy, underspiced and sweet. Granted, I'm probably biased because I can make it at home, or eat my mom's cooking. But there are some other places that do it more authentically.

                    No one's perfect, and they have good ambiance...

                    1. re: sds

                      Which Indian places would you recommend in SD ?

                      1. re: sds

                        sds, have you been to Gateway To India? How does it stack up? What are some of the places here doing it right?

                        1. re: Josh

                          I havent been to Gateway yet; but Surati Farsan is good for snack foods (dosa, behl, etc) and Pujabi Tandoor has been good for entrees (albeit a little on the oily side)...I'll be sure to try Gateway and see how it goes!

                          1. re: sds

                            Yeah, I've been to both those places and enjoyed them, though I like that Gateway lets you pick and choose (and their bread is really good). Punjabi is a little oily to me too. I actually found a heart-healthy Indian cookbook I just started using, and so far everything I've made from it has been good (and very low in fat).

                          2. re: Josh

                            Went to Gateway to India last Friday night. I was little surprised when I got there to find it's more a hall that seems to cater to wedding parties (based on the layout) and you pay for the buffet in the grocery store, then walk into the adjacent building for the food.
                            That being said, it isn't the place to bring someone to impress them with an elaborate dining experience. The seating is in a big banquet hall at long tables and the drinks are serve yourself water and pop (soda) bottles.
                            Food is great though! As mentioned above - all vegetarian dishes, but a great degree of variety. I really liked the homey atmosphere and especially the repeated trips that the cook took to bring fresh naan to all the customers as it came out of the oven/grill.
                            Standouts were; for me: Chickpea salad with coriander and mince hot peppers, Cauliflower hash(? - lots of garam masala and pan fried with crispy edges) and the sweets table with fresh chai tea; for her: Cheese Curry (like butter chicken, but with cheese), lentils soaked in sweetened yogurt (?) and the spiced cooked lentils.
                            All in all, highly recommended for great price and variety - just don't head in expecting your typical white linen Indian restaurant with everything served in dainty little steel dishes...

                        2. re: foodpuppy

                          I recently went to Monsoon after seeing a show at the Civic. It was not as good as Bombay...not bad, just not as good. the location was definately a convenience though.

                          1. re: SRosie

                            My husband wasnt a big fan of Bombay, being from the UK we're pretty fussy about our indian food. We usually wait until trips back home although I did like Ker, up on black mountain road.

                            1. re: jennywenny

                              FYI, Ker is the grocery store. Gateway to India is the restaurant inside Ker. (Just to avoid any confusion)

                        3. I grew up in Mira Mesa and have lived there off and on for most of the last 25 years. Black Mountain Road's "Little India" (that's what the locals call it) is simply the best place to get Indian food in the city. The food is authentic, the prices are reasonable (unlike most other Indian places which charge an arm and a leg for mediocre stuff), and it's only a mile or two away from my house. So I go there a lot.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: oerdin

                            Which places do you like, in particular?