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Oct 28, 2008 10:00 AM

Nala Pak or the Vegetarian -MSP

We're looking to celebrate diwali tonight by going out for some indian food. never made it to either of these places and both menus look good - what can the assembled chowtelligence tell us about their relative merits?

alternately, is there somewhere else that we should definitely check out for indian food? (the thought of southern indian was particularly appealing, but if there was a northern option that was worth mentioning id love to hear about it).

for what its worth: authentic and deliciosu are our priorities, service and atmosphere are less essential. i could just cry over bombay2deli not being around, had a decent meal at mysore last summer but havent been back (and read some pretty dismal reports about both food and service online).

i know there are a couple of pretty comprehensive MSP indian threads but i was looking for specific guidance regarding these two places, or a specific recommendation for somewhere that puts the others to shame.

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  1. Happy Diwali! I, too, miss Bombay2Deli - I was really looking forward to the special sweets they made for Diwali. Sob!

    I haven't been to Nala Pak since the Udupi days (previous owners), but I've been to the Vegetarian and can't really recommend it. (The food was OK - nothing great, nothing wrong - but the owner was quite overbearing as he waited on us, and was arguing loudly with someone the whole time we were there.) I'd go for Nala Pak instead.

    If a non-vegetarian restaurant is acceptable, I'd go to Gandhi Mahal - I've been very pleased with my three meals there so far. (I love Love LOVE the Persian Dhansak lentil dish). Gandhi Mahal seems more like the "big city" Indian restaurants I've visited in NYC and SF and Toronto. Of course, they do vegetarian dishes as well.


    19 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      So after considering your comments, anne, and our own hunger we went to Nala Pak. Well have to check out gandhi mahal another time, we were just in the mood for south indian.

      so, too, were lots of other (mostly indian) folks. when we got to nala pak around 8 or 815 pm yesterday it was VERY busy. the host who seated us informed us it would be a few minutes before our order was taken as he was short staffed and obviously serving a lot of people that evening - not a terrible move on his part in my book, and much appreciated, really.

      we were brought water while we waited and there was plenty of conversation to be had (and cricket on the tv to boot) so it wasn't a big deal.

      overall the food was pretty good, but c-heights is a bit out of our way for regular visits so i dont know well be running back unless were back in the area for some reason.

      we ordered the iddly vada, and special bonda to start and i thought both were quite good. the sambar and coconut chutney that accompanied the iddly vada were very good, though could have had a bit more spice for my taste - the bonda came with tamarind and mint chutneys which were apparently home made and very good.

      for our meal we shared an onion uttapam which was the real winner of the night. i frequently avoid ordering uttapams because i find them limp and uninspired but this rendition had excellent color and really nice crunch and taste. our paper masala dosa was pretty good - the dosa itself was nice, but could have been hotter when it came out (which certainly didnt improve as we worked our way through dinner) but the sides of potato curry and sambar/cocuntu chutney were as pleasing as with the iddly vada. the chana masala was a bit of a disappointment, not terrible but lacking wow. good, but not distinctive flavor and spice and underwhelming portion size were pretty serious downsides, and i wouldnt order it again (my girlfriend picked it to begin with, i like chickpeas enough but feel like my channa masala is as good as most i eat out so why not save restaurant orders for things i dont do well or am too lazy to do).

      in all it was a fine diwali experience, there were lots of family and groups of friends even when we left at quarter to ten. if i ever was nearbye the thought of the buffet could sway me as even with three of us i hate being limited to ordering just a couple dishes. does anyone know if they bring out hot dosa/uttapam with the buffet? (i suppose it could have asked but the few servers last night were so harried i would have felt bad).

      price wise i thought the meal was very fair, a generous dinner for three, no drinks, cost us just 35 bucks before tip.

      Nala Pak
      4920 Central Avenue NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        Yes, a hot dosa is served to the table when you go to the lunch buffet.

        1. re: KTFoley

          Went to Nala Pak for lunch this week, and that dosa was one of many high points. I also enjoyed the paneer, and the lentil doughnuts (not the official name). I debated the merits of grabbing a dessert, but was glad I took the plunge. A mix of rice, cream and nuts, it's worth the price of admission ($9) by itself.

          Highly recommend Nala Pak.

          1. re: kevin47

            lentil donuts = vada for future reference/ordering

        2. re: tex.s.toast

          Thanks for the report, Tex! An onion uttapam with cricket to watch while I eat is my kind of meal.

          If my brain had been working yesterday, I would have mentioned Curry Up Foods in Maple Grove. (I completely forgot about it until the Earl of Sandwich mentioned it in another thread: .) I haven't been there, but it sounds like it would definitely appeal to fans of Bombay2 Deli.


          1. re: AnneInMpls

            curry up also came up in my research on where to go, but it just seemed to far to schlep on a worknight, even to celebrate. ill def have to get there and promise to report back.

            1. re: AnneInMpls

              "An onion uttapam with cricket to watch while I eat is my kind of meal" -- I didn't think we had any cricket fans on chow :) Watching cricket and eating are probably two of my favorite things to do.

              Anne - you should go and watch some cricket over the labor day weekend in Minneapolis (Bryn Mwar Park). There will be plenty of Cricket, Beer and food from West Indies, India and Pakistan. This is a major tournament with teams from all over the U.S. and Canada.

              On a different note, has anybody tried Surabhi in Bloomington? This is my favorite South Indian restaurant.

              1. re: rjayasuriya

                no but id be interested to - we tried curry up a few weeks ago and it was good but some items could have been fresher, and its way less convenient to get to than bloomington.

                what do you recommend at surabhi? (please say dahi vada, please say dahi vada . . .)

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  We really like their Masala Dosa, Chicken Afghani and weekend lunch buffet (these are the only items I remember but we haven't had anything bad there). I remember seeing different kinds of vada at their lunch buffet. We used to go there quite a bit when we lived in Burnsville but since moving to Chaska we haven't been there much. If you haven't tried already, I would recommend India Spice House in Eden Prairie and Kabob's in Bloomington as well.

                2. re: rjayasuriya

                  Wow - cricket in a park, Labor Day weekend, WITH food and beer?!?!?!? This I GOTTA check out. Thanks for the great tip!


                    1. re: soupkitten

                      Here you go;

                      517 W 98th St
                      Minneapolis, MN 55420-4713
                      (952) 746-3663

                      1. re: rjayasuriya

                        oh gosh thanks so much. hmm no menu on website, but i'll go anyway!

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          Do use Firefox? Try using IE and you should be able to see the menu on the left side of the page. The website doesn't work well with Firefox for some reason.

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            are we using the same internets sk?
                            there appears to be a button on the left hand navigation, second from the top, that links to a secionalized menu containing, veg entrees, appetizers, s and n indian specialties, tandoor/kebabs etc (though they will certainly win no points for web design or menu organization, i found dahi vada under n indian specialties which just doesnt compute)

                            additionally i noticed they are promoting their indian-chinese menu. id be super extra curious if anyone had ordered off of it as my hosts in india insisted on taking us out for one indian-chinese meal that was really very good (if not terribly authentic in the way most american-chinese places are).

                            id say from looking at it they have just about eveything id expect at most standard north or south indian spots, plus some less often found things like the indian-chinese, fried rice, and chole battura (id be curious to hear about this one too if someone has tried it).

                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                              *doh*! stupid. . . firefox, and my techno-ineptness rears its ugly head again. . . ack. i think i'm gonna need to access this page on a phone or another computer, shoot.

                              the indian-chinese menu items sound. . . interesting. . . i do think this fusion would be promising. but mostly i'm all about the s indian dishes. could those of you who can see the menu right now do ol' sk a favor and rattle off a price or two for me? looks like i gotta plan a trip southside.

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                a la carte curries seemed to be in the 8-10 dollar range with optional thali service costing a bit more. dosas int he 5-7 dollar range, vada and idli for about 5-6.

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    Even though you would get better food off the a la carte menu I would suggest trying their weekend buffet if you want to get a feel for a lot of their dishes without breaking the bank.

              2. Happy Diwali to all. There is another place that opened across the street from CURRYUP it used to be KABOB and CURRY before. It looks like it is operating under new management. The lady working there mentioned that the place is owned by KABOBs in Bloomington (located on Portland Avenue).
                The new place is serving Lunch Buffet all week long. I missed the buffet, but will give it a try next time when I am in the area.
                I ordered some kabobs from the menu as well a chicken curry which was very good. Their naan was huge and tasted very good. I'll definitely try the variety in the variety in the buffet which the lady mentioned is prepared fresh everyday and features new items everyday.