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SOS--indian burnout

i love indian food, but am feeling like the old standbys have gone stale...restaurants change so quickly, i'm hoping to hear the latest on places i haven't been to in a while and maybe find something new and awesome.

went to indique heights last night, was underwhelmed....when the original went downhill, i figured they had sent their best guys over to wisconsin...now it seems the whole production has jumped the shark. confirm/deny?

rasika is awesome, but inconvenient and a little fancy for my average week night.

haven't been to heritage in awhile....whats the verdict? also which location is the best at this point....

delhi club in clarendon was recently decent. went to minerva's weekend buffet a month or so ago, incredibly disappointing.

is haandi still good? passage to india?

has anyone been to indian ocean on connecticut by van ness?

any dark horses?

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  1. Get yourself to Punjab Dhaba in Falls Church for the Tandoori Chicken and the Dahi Vada. That combination is the best Indian meal in the area. The flavors will knock you over.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Punjab Dhaba at Loehmann's Plaza, next Pho 50? I work nearby, and the couple times I went there for lunch, there are no customers. All of my programmers are Indian, and we went once, and they won't go back. Maybe the lunch is prepared separately from dinner -- different staff, cooks, and menu? (by the way, the programmers do like the lunch buffet at Minerva on Rt. 50 in Fairfax., but I think they like the variety more than anything else.)

      1. re: MartinDC

        First of all, you have to avoid the buffet, but I avoid buffets in general. None of your co-workers or anyone else for that matter would be disappointed with the Tandoori Chicken. The dahi vada, when you order it off the posted board rather than the buffet, comes with the trinity of Indian chaat sauces: green chile, yogurt, and tamarind. This is a great meal I promise you, and it will throw you for a loop.

    2. Haandi has still got it. Way better than Passage to India. And service is better too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: baconmakesitbetter

        Sorry, I completely disagree. Haandi isn't a bad place, but what I've had there has generally been underspiced. Not only was everything I tried at Passage to India flavorful and delicious, they've got some unusual dishes simply not available elsewhere in the area. I've had no problems with the service at either place.

        1. re: potrzebie

          The Haandi in Bethesda? I'm surprised. We like food really spicy, and they accommodate us, but maybe it's because they know us. My experience at Passage to India was bad. They gave me the wrong dish and wouldn't fix it.

          1. re: baconmakesitbetter

            I love Haandi in Bethesda (haven't been to the one in FC). The food and service are consistently great. My only issue is the prices on some things (like $3 for a tiny amount of mango chutney).

      2. I really like House of India in Columbia. Their whole Tandoori fish, or their house special biryani are better than I've had anywhere else.
        It's certainly nothing fancy & a bit out of the way, but truly good food.

        1 Reply
        1. I've only been to the Indique in Cleveland Park once but won't return. I found it very disappointing and a little over priced for what we ordered.

          By go to Indian restaurant is Heritage. I go to the one in Dupont Circle (since that is where I live). I think the food is excellent and its also nice that you can eat there on a budget if you want by ordering off of the Hawker's Zone menu.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Elyssa

            To each her own...I really LIKE Indique. Overall, I find Indian food to be full of complex flavors, with spice combinations that produce many different "hits" on different parts of my tongue. As for looks... is there anything more gorgeous than a plate of chicken from the tandoor? Lots of Indian food is slow-simmered, but that's not "overcooked" in my book. I don't have a lot of patience for the dismissing of an entire cuisine.

            So, I've heard about a new Indian place near DuPont, possibly that replaced another Indian place (sorry to be vague). Any info, anyone?

            1. re: dcandohio

              There are a few pretty bad Indian places in Dupont. It would be awesome if they were replaced by better restaurants. There is one near The Big Hunt which I remember being pretty mediocre. (Is it possible that this place is called Taj Mahal?) And then there is that place right next to Bistro du Coin (perhaps called Polo something or other?). Is this what you are thinking of?

              Sorry I am vague as well....can't remember the names.

              1. re: Elyssa

                I think this place might be on P...kind of a take-out place. That place next to Bistrot du Coin has never interested me, as my Indian friend went there and he pronounced it "YUK." Never tried the place near Big Hunt. The Indian places on Connecticut at the Woodley Park metro are not very good, either, in case anyone was wondering...

                1. re: dcandohio

                  I posted about that P Street place a few weeks ago:

                  There's Amma vegetarian Indian on M Street in Georgetown, very cheap and good dosas. Nothing transcendent, but a good value.

                  The lunch special at Heritage India in Glover Park is a very good deal and delish.

          2. I'd love to hear some Indians recommend restaurants that they really enjoy and the dishes that they love.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ericandblueboy

              Monica Bhide, a very well-known and highly respected food writer, educator and cookbook author, originally from India, has listed her top DC area Indian restaurants as:
              Upscale --
              Passage to India
              Bombay Club
              Indique Heights

              "Easy on the Wallet"--
              Bombay Curry Company
              Punjab Dhaba

              Details about specific dishes on her blog: http://mbhide.typepad.com/my_weblog/2...

              1. re: crackers

                Thanks again for the recommendations.

                1. re: crackers

                  the former chef from bombay club now is at raaga in falls church. he was there when "Bill Clinton used to call the kitchen of the Bombay Club to order vindaloo and cold beer." (from bhide's blog, cited above.)

              2. I'm not overly versed in Indian, but to be different maybe head for some Indo-Chinese? There are two places in Herndon - Masala Wok being one. There's a place in Rio in Gaithersburg that has an Indo-Chinese section of the menu.

                1. I really think you should try Bombay Curry Company on Mt. Vernon Avenue in Alexandria. It's in a strip mall. Go when the regular chef is cooking -- any night but Sunday and Wednesday (I think -- best to ask). But even when he isn't there it still has been good. Still, you should go a few times to get a feel of how the food is.

                  Great prices, and very good flavors. The menu is motly traditional dishes, but they are done very well that they might seem new. They have vegetable side dishes for less then $5, so you can order a variety of things. Some nights it has been spicier, hotter than other times. Not over salted as I think Heritage tends to be. It's clean but not overly decorated, and the owner is very friendly and makes conversation. Best of all, the prices are very reasonable.

                  Like you, I'm tired of all the Indian places in and around where I live in DC. I ordered the thali at Jyoti, which is around the corner from my condo, and all the little dishes were in the same sauce -- they all tasted alike. I went to Indique recently with a friend, and our bill was $90 for two, with a bottle of wine. A similar meal would have been $50 at BCC.


                  1. I've tried Bombay Club and Rasika, but my favorite is still Tiffin in College Park. I don't think good Indian food needs to cost an arm and a leg!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kikyou

                      That's Langley Park, but I agree. The cooking there blows me away.

                    2. Indian food in this area is definitely a polarizing subject. The food may have changed but you might also be getting bored and it is either time to move to city with higher quality Indian or rotate to another cuisine for a while. Or change your eating patterns: for instance, I was out in Minerva, Herndon, and noticed the tastiest things on the menu were the sweets and chutneys, so for my second pass through the buffet, I dumped all those yummy things on the plate for intense sweet, sour and spicy flavors.

                      Sorry, I'm not impressed with Passage to India at all. Maybe those who like it can tell us what to order on the menu.

                      Punjab Dhaba is cheap. Aside from the sweets, that's all it has going for it. It's convenient when you shop at Loehmann's or see an Bollywood movie in the same mall. Otherwise, I don't think it is worth a special trip.

                      I like Minerva in Fairfax on the weekends. Also like Udupi Palace and Tiffin. I eat those places for the buffets. Have eaten at Minerva and Udupi off buffet and it was quite good.

                      Indian Ocean, if it is the one close to the subterranean Giant supermarket, was "light" Indian, eg not so greasy. Some people like that, some don't.

                      I have heard good things about Ageetha? in Herndon on Elder Ln.

                      1. Haandi was my go-to for years and I still have a meal there occasionally. The food is very good, albeit a little mild unless you ask for more spice. One reviewer once referred to Haandi as the "Volvo" of the local indian food scene. Always reliable, you know you'll get a good meal when you go there.

                        I'm one of those who believes that Passage to India is the best around. Chef Seth did a "Spice Night" for another food site last year and the food was both incendiary and sublime. One of the dishes--Mussels Vendiam--was recently added to the menu. That appetizer in itself is worth a visit. I also highly recommend the butter chicken and Chutni Ni Murgi, a Parsi chicken dish in a very spicy green masala. And there dal makhani is the best around, IMO, as is their pickle.

                        Heritage India in Glover Park is always great, as is Raskia. To me, Indique is just a cut below.
                        For South Indian veg, Woodlands is our go-to.

                        My sleeper is Ghar-e-Kabab in Silver Spring, an Indian/Nepali restaurant on Wayne Ave. The small lunch buffet never fails to satisfy and the regular menu is also quite good. They are also a bit more liberal with the spices than some of the other restaurants around, though not quite as much as Minerva. I like Minerva as well, although the cooking can be pretty uneven.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JeffCraddock

                          My delivery order from Ghar-e-Kebab on Friday was immensely disappointing. Perhaps I ordered wrong? I had a gristley small portion of lamb curry, a dal that was well spiced but chock full of unexpected kidney beans and a sweet stuffed nan that was filled with some cherry coconut mixture that tasted like it was from a can. What would you recommend?

                          Passage to India remains my go-to in MoCo. I was at a special dinner there featuring dishes from the four corners of the subcontinent. Chef Sudhir Seth and his small kitchen put out an amazing feast for us: From the northern, Punjabi cuisine, we sampled tandoor chicken, and Shalgam Goat Curry with turnips and turnip greens. From the Western, Parsi cuisine, came a lovely Patrani Marchhi, fish filet coated in a cilantro marinde, baked after being wrapped in a banana leaf. With it came (among other things) red bliss potatoes with scallion, a Dhansak rice with star anise and stone flower flavor, and a medly of three chutneys: mango, peanut and sesame. The Eastern, Bengali region was represented by Shorshe Bata Maachh - a delicate fish filet coated in a thick fresh ground mustard sauce, as well as Kosha Mangsho - slow cooked lamb in cumin, coriander and cardamom; and Chorchori Turkari, which is an amazing vegetable mix with Bengali spices, and steamed basmati rice. With this came tomato and date chutneys. The last course was a Southern, Kerala platter that had everything from a sauteed shrimp in spices and coconut flakes to brown rice "string-hoppers." There were also addictive roasted, salted chilies called Milagapodi that I wish I could bring home by the bagful.

                          1. re: crackers

                            That sounds awesome. Their regular menu fare sucks. When are these special dinners?

                            1. re: crackers

                              I was really sorry I missed the Passage to India "four corners" dinner, but Chef Seth's "Spice Night" was one of the most satisfying--and filling--meals I've experienced. Those in attendance were pretty nervous before the meal, wondering if this was going to be some kind of "trial by fire". But Sudhir Seth was very deft with the spiciness, varying the heat without making the dishes so hot as to be inedible. There were a couple of dishes that were four alarm hot--he made a shrimp pickle that was "OMG"--but to my taste those were the best. There was more than ample raita to cool the fires....

                              I've never gotten carry-out from Ghar-e-Kabab, as I usually have the buffet at lunch. It's a small buffet--three or four veg dishes, including one dal, as well as a curry and tandoori chicken, fresh naan, chutneys and pickle, and a dessert. It is almost always good. Dishes I recommend on the regular menu include the biryanis, chicken saag (spinach), and almost all the meats from the tandoor. The tandoori salmon I had one night--it was a special--was excellent (and it was a huge portion). I've noticed more than one restaurant using kidney beans in dal and I'm not sure I like the trend. And I highly recommend their plain naan, noting that naan doesn't always travel well.

                              1. re: JeffCraddock

                                Thanks Jeff, I definitely ordered wrong! If there is a next time that I'm house-bound in SS (it isn't my home turf) I'll try the tandoori and rice dishes, and maybe a kabab, since those usually travel well. I had asked for the thali assortment, since it was on the take out menu, but was informed that they don't offer thali as a delivery option, only dine-in. Almost ordered the saag paneer, but I still had Rays the Classics leftover creamed spinach from my Hell burger order the night before.

                                Both the spice night and the "four corners" dinners at Passage to India were privately arranged. I'd suggest gathering up your interested friends (or reach out to people on this board, if you do it off-line - check with the mods about how to do that) and call the restaurant to see if they'll do something similar for you.

                          2. I really like Jyoti and Bombay Curry Co. for solid food and great service. There's also one in Woodbridge, but I can't recall the name. I wasn't too impressed with the food at either Indique or Delhi Club the few times I've gone, and the service at the latter was horrid to boot. Rasika was meh -- found it to have more flash than substance.

                            1. Another sleeper outside the beltway is My Karma in Lorton. It's building a following. Worth the drive if you are a true Indian food freak.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: HSBSteveM

                                My office is just next to Indique Heights - and we go there for the three course executive lunch - - for $12.00. In the last two weeks or so we have been there at least 5 times - because of the recent introduction of weekday buffet for $10.95 - the food is excellent - Menu varying daily with a lot of choices - assorted chutneys - a girl making small hot dosas on the buffet etc. I would rate Indique Heights very highly on my list of Indian restaurants. The decor and the ambience are also superb.

                                My husband is a big fan of Indique in Cleveland Park.- although he likes Indique Heights a lot - he likes the atmosphere at Indique better. He has some favorite dishes and does not deviate much - Whenever we go to Indique he makes sure that Mussels with garlic Naan is one of the dishes as a starter - and his favorite is the lamb shank - I don't think anybody in town makes a better lamb shank than at Indique. Folks my advise to you - order unusual dishes - do not stick to the standard saag paneer and baingan bhartha types... try crab tikki, calamari, bhelpuri, papri chaat, mussels, shrimp varuval, cornish hen, pepper chicken, appams and stews - Be adventurous - step out of the box . Try their tamarind margaritas ...

                                Whenever we are in a mood for vegerarian we frequent places like Madras Palace, and Woodlands. We have also tried Nirvana - but not have particularly liked it - although it gets a very high rating from the post food critic.

                              2. we like raaga at bailey's crossroads. the food is consistently good. lunch there is a good buffet (or order from the menu) and dinner is great, too. we've been going for years, and enjoy the good service and nice atmosphere, too. mr. alka loves the tandoori lamb chops, which imo are a great value. i love the chicken tikka masala, reshmi kabob, chicken aachari, prawn masala, boti kabob. (mixed grill platter is nice intro,) their saag that accompanies the lamb chops is really outstanding; i could eat a ton!

                                http://www.raagarestaurant.com/# their resto has been redecorated/updated from the photos you see on this site. the website is in process of being updated. (the designer is in nepal! -- neat, huh?)

                                1. big shout out to those who suggested passage to india--went there last night, it was SO GOOD. great flavor, perfectly spiced, interesting menu....check plus!

                                  1. Angeethi's lunch buffet in Leesburg or Herndon...mmm

                                    1. I really like Tandoori Nights in Clarendon but I don't see it mentioned much on the boards so it may not be a general fave. Also love Bombay Club, and enjoy your aforementioned Delhi Club.

                                      1. I haven't been for over a year, but Saravana Palace in Farifax was great for vegetarian South Indian cuisine. Anyone been more recently?

                                        1. >>haven't been to heritage in awhile....whats the verdict? also which location is the best at this point....

                                          I eat at both, and it just depends on what you are in the mood for. Glover Park has a more sedate feel, dishes are served traditionally. The one on Connecticut has a sexier atmosphere (enormous statue in back, kama sutra paintings in the loo). I also like their "small plates", sort of their nod to street food.

                                          1. what about "sangam" in arlington? anyone have an opinion?