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Tempe: Korean or Indian dinner recommendations?

We're going to a 7:30 p.m. show at ASU Gammage next week and are completely unfamiliar with the area. Can anybody recommend a good Korean or Indian restaurant convenient to the venue for an early dinner? Good food is the premier requisite, decent prices would be nice, too.

Thanks in advance for any direction you can give!
Deenso

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  1. Tempe is home to about half a dozen Indian restaurants. I believe the closest to Gammage is Delhi Palace, about a mile east at Rural and University (SE corner). It serves pretty standard northern Indian fare and has been around for over a decade. It's a safe bet if proximity to Gammage is of paramount importance.

    Nevertheless, I've grown partial to southern Indian food recently and therefore eat more frequently at Udupi, which is at the north end of Tempe on Scottsdale Road just south of McKellips. I also like Pasand at McClintock and Baseline and Priya at McClintock and Warner. Udupi is 100% vegetarian (and 100% delicious); the others named serve meat dishes and are also quite good.

    As for Korean food, I'm less knowledgable in that area, but I think Korean Garden is on Rural just south of Apache. I've never been there and therefore cannot offer a comparison to other Korean restaurants in the metro area.

    1. I love the Indian Dehli Palace on 52nd St and McDowell. The food is incredible---the first time I had ever seen "goat" on a menu!
      Although it is in Phoenix, it is on the far east part of town, a short trip over the buttes, immediately south on Galvin Parkey to University, and east into Tempe. We have season tickets to Gammage and often opt to dine in the outer fringes of the area to avoid the traffic and parking issues in town.

      1. That being said (my above post) one of my favorite restaurants in Tempe is the very informal (eat with your hands) and casual (located in a strip (um, literally) mall) Blue Nile Cafe. It is actually Ethiopian, not Korean or Indian, but if you are feeling adventurous and in the mood for ethnic cuisine, it is wonderful. The food is fragrant and flavorful. The injera (a bread used like a utensil to pick up food) is a soft bread formed in rolls which arrives in baskets for the table. My favorite meal is the messab (sp?) a large platter lined with injera that is shared by all. You choose the dishes it will contain and there are a variety of meats and vegetables to select from. My favorites are the chickpeas and lentils. I love the beef sambussa appetizer as well, but be careful, it is always hot! The Ethopian coffee is roasted on site, so if you are planning on one let them know at the beginning of the meal as it takes about 20 minutes to prepare. Blue Nile is a slower-paced eating experience, so allow plenty of time, especially with a theater deadline. This is a small place, but is rarely busy---a fact that I cannot understand, but chalk up to folks maybe not knowing what to expect---and definitely not understanding how yummy the food is! Their website www.bluenilerestaurant.net.

        4 Replies
        1. re: phx

          I'll confess I've not yet gotten around to trying Blue Nile, although it sounds wonderful. I think I'm just so established in my habit of going to LaLibela when I crave Ethiopian food. LaLibela is closer to my office and therefore easier for a lunch getaway. What differences have you noticed between the experience at LaLibela vs. Blue Nile?

          1. re: silverbear

            Having been to both, LaLibela several times, I would definitely rate Blue Nile as the better experience and value. The prices at Blue Nile tend to be 1-3 dollars lower than at LaLibela with more to choose from (I am speaking mostly for the vegetarian offerings being a vegan). Some of the vegetarian menu items at Blue Nile are unique at least in my experience (and I've sampled Ethiopian all over the country and extensivley in Washington, DC) like the eggplant, or real standouts like the shiro wat. I tend to rate ethiopian restaurants by three elements: the quality of the injera (the spongy bread which is notoriously hard to get right), the gomen, and the azifah (if they offer it). The injera at Blue Nile is more authentic than what you'll find at LaLibela with a stronger sour note and touch darker color (indicating it was made wholly or almost wholly with teff flour). The gomen is very good with a slight bitterness that tells you the collards weren't boiled to death and plenty of garlic/spices. When I went they didn't have azifah but other dishes, like the aformentioned shiro wat and the fruity mushroom tibs had me salivating for more. This isn't to say that LaLibela has substandard food. I've certainly had much worse than LaLibela and paid more for it but it pales in comparison to Blue Nile. I also preferred the service at Blue Nile. When I went we were served by the owner himself and he was happy to bring out any additional vegetarian dishes we wanted (we got a platter for three), as much as we could eat, for no extra charge.

            1. re: Professor12

              Thanks. This is a helpful comparison. I first learned to appreciate Ethiopian food in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of D.C., so I can certainly understand that there are subtle differences from one Ethiopian restaurant to another.

              I love eggplant, so I'm eager to try the dish mentioned at Blue Nile. I've been a loyal customer of LaLibela since its original location at 19th Ave. and Dunlap, but I think I can find room in my life for two Ethiopian restaurants. I'll add Blue Nile to my list of places to try soon.

            2. re: silverbear

              I have not been to LaLibela. Great detail above! I too am charmed by Abel, the owner. He is gracious and friendly, providing helpful menu hints when I first discovered the place and, on more than one occasion, the artist and CD names from a "must have" piece of African music I have enjoyed while dining. Everyone should go visit the Blue Nile, he deserves great success! :)

          2. Re: Korean Garden. DO NOT GO THERE. The quality is sub-par and I think they take advantage of the homesick Korean students. Tasteless. If you want Korean close to ASU, I would recommend Hodori (NW corner of Dobson and Southern, technically Mesa?) in the Asiana Market strip mall along with all the other Asian shops in there. OR, if you can go farther and want to grill your own meat, Takamatsu in Chandler (NW corner of Arizona Ave. and Elliot).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Baxterita

              Korean Garden has been called Seoul Garden for a while now, but I can't say the food is any better.

            2. I can heartily endorse BOTH...

              >>>Delhi Palace, about a mile east at Rural and University (SE corner). It serves pretty standard northern Indian fare and has been around for over a decade.<<<

              Just to clarify, it's about 100yds east of Rural on the south side of University.

              >>>Priya at McClintock and Warner. Udupi is 100% vegetarian<<<