Harini - Indian Lawrenceville NJ
We had an excellent meal at Harini http://www.harinirestaurant.com/home in Mercer Mall on Rt. 1 next to Olive Garden. This casual BYOB compares well with other Indian in the area: Passage to India in Lawrence Shopping Center, Vasanta Bhavan on Quakerbridge Rd and Palace of Asia in Lawrence Square Village off Quakerbridge. (Of those 3 we probably prefer P to I
)We started with Paneer pakora and idly, both fine, and vada (lentil donuts) which were just cooked and very very good. Masala dosa and Mysore dosa were better than Vasanta Bhavan's (and we like theirs too!). Spinach dal was very tasty, and the Bendi masala (okra with onions, carrots, other vegetables, and spices) was the best Indian okra I've had. We picked about 5 desserts from a huge case. All excellent with various flavors and textures. We stuck with vegetarian entrees but will try some of their many chicken and lamb dishes next time. Highly recommended.
Our Indian neighbor recommended this place, so we tried their weekday lunch buffet . It has a no-frills cafe-type atmosphere, but the food was really wonderful. Their selection was unique and it tasted like true home cooking, unlike other more "americanized" buffets in the area. The flavors were spicy and well-done. We enjoyed the delicate naan, moist tandoori, many other dishes, good sweets, and complimentary chai tea. It is run by a sweet couple and we thought the service was excellent (even though it was bustling business lunchtime). They noticed my 4 year old wasn't too happy about being there (he had wanted to go to the Cheeburger place next door!), so they brought him a big plate of french fries! We look forward to going back and trying their famous dosas.
We've stopped going to Passage to India because it seems they changed owners. On the last weekday buffet we went to, the food was horribly boring, bland, and there wasn't a single Indian diner in there...there used to be many, years ago!
Palace of Asia is nice. Beautiful ambience/decor. Food is a little on the heavy side, but good.
Our same Indian neighbor told us that Vasanta Bhavan has closed.
We ate here last night, and enjoyed it -- unfortunately, we didn't order very much, so we have to go back. The Masala Dosa was excellent, which we were really happy about because we haven't found a good one since the demise of Dimple's Bombay Delight.
Also notable was an appetizer called "Chicken 65", which was a fiery boneless chicken dish with unusual spicing, reminiscent of some indo-chinese dishes I've had.
The staff is extremely nice... our waiter brought our 2.5 year old daughter a special Carrot Halwa after our meal without ordering it.
re: Jaxie Waxie Woo
Unless it's really busy, the food comes out pretty quickly. This is a favorite spot of ours. We used to go to Dosa Grill, way out Rt 27 in Franklin Park, and while I'd argue that their MLA Pesaratu Dosa is better at Dosa Grill, Harini's is good and is a MUCH shorter drive for us. The Mysore and Masala Dosa at Harini are terrific and comparable to those i've most enjoyed. The chicken kebabs are all really good, though at one point they were kind of overly-moist, in a way that we don't care for in chicken, but now they're a great consistency, drier yet not dry, if you see what i mean. I find the Chicken 65 too greasy for my taste. The okra is outstanding and one of the eggplant dishes, the grilled one, I think, is terrific, too. Also the Chana Masala. Generally speaking, we really love this place and love that it's only a 10 min drive!
We found Vasanta Bhavan to be way too greasy and the non-dosa dishes were uninspired and sort of all tasted alike.
Plus, the owner of Harini is a really lovely woman and eager to please.
Had dinner here Saturday night. My wife and I enjoy trying Indian foods every once in a while. (Our favorite spot so far is Mehek in Princeton) We gave Harini a try and were pleased with the food. But we would both agree with the Chicken being too greasy. We shared the Chili Chicken and did not like it. However, the Spicy Masala Dosa - our first dosa - was a block buster hit! We also had the Chicken Tikka Masala (Not what we were expecting - our fault), Garlic Naan, and Peas Pullao.
This is a real "down scale" place compared to Palace of Asia which is all glitz and glitter. Harini has no fancy trappings - it's about the food.
I would rank the Indian restaurants in the area I know for food and value as follow:
Passage to India
Palace of Asia