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Best Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities

k
kristieds Jan 30, 2010 07:45 AM

Am in search of the best Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities. I couldn't find a recent post for this so I thought I'd open it up. The other night I had chicken vindaloo from Biryani in Edina which I thought was really good. It used to be Chapati near Hwy 100 and 70th. Will definitely try again since it's on my way home from work. My all-time fav was Udupi in Columbia Heights but that's been closed for a while as far as I know. Udupi had the best dosa's! Any suggestions from my fellow foodies?

  1. c
    churchka Jan 30, 2010 08:24 AM

    I really like Ghandi Mahal in South Minneapolis. While it may not be the best, it is my go-to place due to location and consistently good food.

    It is a northern style Indian restaurant, so different from Udupi, which I also loved. I've really enjoyed the Tikka Masala, the Rogan Josh with lamb, and Palak Paneer. I think the spice levels are right on, though I've heard complaints from others.

    1. k
      kevin47 Jan 30, 2010 10:47 AM

      Udupi is now Nala Pak, a vegetarian restaurant that retains the emphasis on Southern Indian" cuisine, but with "northern" options as well. The dosa I had was a highlight, and it is complimentary with the excellent buffet.

      The best Indian I have had is Gandhi Mahal, which is head and shoulders above the competition, which tends to feature cookie cutter, buttery recipes. I think I've mentioned the yellow dal soup about a dozen times on this board, but the tikka masala (a far northern Indian dish?) and palak paneer suggest some real cooking chops.

      Those two would be the best places to start. From there, you might try Kabob's (Indian with a heavy Pakistani influence) and OM (upscale, chef-driven takes on classic dishes). Both of those have gotten good recommendations on this board. .

      4 Replies
      1. re: kevin47
        m
        MayrMN Jan 30, 2010 05:55 PM

        My husband and I miss Great India in Brooklyn Center since we moved south. Beef Kadahi there was great as was the Chicken Dumpakht.

        We've given both Tandoor and Surabhi in Bloomington tries and while we'd go back to both, we've never been blown away. Actually we really liked both lunch buffets there. Surabhi's was pretty off beat, which was a nice change of pace.

        1. re: MayrMN
          f
          faith Jan 30, 2010 08:24 PM

          I was in the neighborhood of Gandhi Mahal tonight, could smell the delicious food all the way around the corner by the library! Went to check it out, and it was PACKED! Including a newer third room they have now. There were some very good reviews on here when it first opened, since then not so much. But then recently people are chiming in about it, and even though I have yet to actually eat more than a takeout appetizer, I got very good vibes about it tonight. There wasn't really much room for the people to stand though who were waiting for tables, I think I'll go on a weeknight and report back.

          1. re: faith
            f
            faith Feb 13, 2010 02:03 PM

            OK, finally ate at Gandhi Mahal, loved it! I had something called 'Persian Dansak' that I guess may be Persian in origin, but was kind of a curry with lentils and tomato....you can basically get most of their entrees with your choice of protein, I just had mine with veggies. Wonderful balance of flavors, excellent basmati pilaf with it that I brought home and had 3 more meals from...........I asked for a side of raita which was also great. They bring a basket of pappadams with tamarind and mint chutneys for dipping. Very good. Watching carbs so I skipped the naan but I bet it's great........................

            1. re: faith
              k
              kristieds Feb 14, 2010 07:06 AM

              I'm definitely going to have to check that place out! Everyone seems to just love it. Thanks for the suggestion!

      2. k
        kevin47 Feb 14, 2010 11:51 AM

        I had a chance to hit up Kabob's in Bloomington for lunch, and I can say it largely lives up to its reputation here as a great hole-in-the-wall place.

        The titular offering was great. A friend and I split the kabob trio, and we both thought the ground beef sausages were a standout. We ordered a side of bread stuffed with nuts (anyone feel free to chime in with the name) that was a perfect savory pairing. The beef samosas were great as well.

        The only letdown was the Chicken 65, which didn't seem to be quite fresh, and was a bit too much tomato and not enough cream. Still, you can't beat the price to flavor ratio, and it's another nice change of pace from the typical Indian spot.

        1. mplsean Feb 15, 2010 05:48 AM

          I've got to agree with Gandhi Mahal. They currently have some special Winter specials right now and had a Broccoli/Spinach/Eggplant Curry that was out of this world....

          1. k
            ksioux Feb 15, 2010 06:49 AM

            I went to Ghandi Mahal once last summer and LOVED IT. So far it's the best Indian place I've been to in MSP. I can't wait to go back. And it's great for kids because they have a little play area off in a back room.

            My go to place though is generally Kabobs in Bloomington since it's on my way home from work. It's cheap and good. I generally go with the Tikka Masala. I've heard good things about the Biryani but I was less impressed with it.

            1. a
              alpa chino Feb 18, 2010 03:30 AM

              I haven't been to many indian restaurants at all. I did go to the bombay bistro in dwntown Mpls with a friend for the lunch buffet. The food was actually pretty good.
              http://bombaybistromn.com/bombay.html

              This is going to sound weird, but I'm actually indian and I really don't like indian food. But I was impressed with bombay bistro. Except for the sambar--the owners were probably north indians so I would stay away from the their South indian menu. Not that south indian food is anything to look forward to.

              But I have to try this gandhi Mahal that everyone is raving about. The place sounds good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: alpa chino
                bob s Feb 18, 2010 09:14 AM

                Which Bombay Bistro? There are 2 right behind each other - one has an entrance in the Medical Arts Building and the other faces Marquette. They have different menus - the one in the Medical Arts Bldg is South Indian and the one on Marquette is North Indian. I assume from your post that it may be the North Indian restaurant, but I prefer the South Indian menu.

                1. re: bob s
                  a
                  alpa chino Feb 19, 2010 03:25 AM

                  I'm not sure. I guess the main one on marquette. The restaurant.

              2. a
                alpa chino Feb 19, 2010 03:31 AM

                Okay, so I checked out this Gandhi Mahal place that everyone loves. I ordered takeout chicken tikka Masala and the mulligatawny soup with garlic naan. The food was awesome. I went in with very low expectations and they did a good job. I asked for the chicken medium spicy and they delivered on that too. The sauce was good and everything else tasted fresh. It didn't have that generic, flat, indian taste to it. The restaurant was very nicely furnished too. I didn't eat in, but I liked the ambiance. The only drawback is the price, it was damn expensive. Thumbs up on the Gandhi Mahal. I'll go back sometime.

                3 Replies
                1. re: alpa chino
                  k
                  kevin47 Feb 20, 2010 03:44 PM

                  I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unless the online menu is out of date, the chicken tikka masala is $12, which is pretty standard pricing for Indian food around here. That said, the cuisine does tend to run at a bit higher price point than others.

                  1. re: alpa chino
                    f
                    faith Feb 20, 2010 07:33 PM

                    alpa, very glad you were happy with gandhi mahal. so, why did you have low expectations? but right on about the taste.........much more going on than a lot of the generic indian food around. I have to say that the kabobs that recently opened in Gavidae so far seems pretty generic. Very cheap but I'd rather pay a bit more and have something interesting to eat.

                    1. re: faith
                      a
                      alpa chino Feb 23, 2010 02:32 AM

                      I always go in with low expectations on ethnic food. If it's not done well, you can have some really bad indian food. Plus, indian's not as ubiquitous as others. It's like a madagascaran restaurant--small selection and nothing to compare it too. Luckily, I know my indian food so I know what tastes good.

                      It's like my golden rule on Chinese food. Find a place that you like and stick with it. You can't be experimenting with different joints.

                  2. s
                    shilad Feb 20, 2010 01:39 PM

                    I haven't tried Ghandi Mahal (next on my list!), but I have eaten at the other restaurants mentioned. My clear favorite is India House on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. It's a little pricey compared to the other places, but the food is fantastic. The restaurant is huge, so I've never had trouble finding a table.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: shilad
                      f
                      faith Feb 20, 2010 07:31 PM

                      shilad, I'd be interested to hear how you find Gandhi Mahal to compare to India House. I moved from St Paul to Mpls right as India House was opening and the smell of new paint etc was too much.............so I haven't ever eaten there.

                      1. re: faith
                        s
                        sarahcooks Feb 26, 2010 09:21 AM

                        I've only tried India House once, and it was take out, but it was horrendously salty. I admit I have a lower tolerance for salt than most people, but I could barely eat it. May have been just a fluke, but I don't think I'll ever go back when we live closer to India Palace in Roseville and that has been reliably good.

                        I've been really happy with the Indian food at some of the other S. Asian restaurants around - like Khyber Pass and Everest on Grand (the lunch buffet at Everest was particularly good, my dinner experiences there have been mixed).

                        1. re: sarahcooks
                          f
                          faith Feb 26, 2010 11:39 AM

                          Sarah, I appreciate your input from the point of view of salt-sensitive types, as I am one too. And find that in general Indian food is pretty heavy on salt. So your comment is telling me that India House may not be my best bet. I was very happy with the meal at Gandhi Mahal, didn't feel like Lot's wife after eating there.

                    2. m
                      misterpatrick Feb 22, 2010 11:55 AM

                      I wish I could get excited about Indian food in the Twin Cities but lately things haven't really been much more than the same-old same-old. Here's what I do like. Om is the a place with chef Raghavan Iyer. The Indians I know in town have been unimpressed but mostly because it is a fusion approach to Indian cuisine which they have admitted they are unused to. I enjoyed the food there though found the waitstaff a little ignorant about Indian ingredients. It is nice to see a place that breaks out of the mold of the typical Indian restaurant in the TC's.

                      The old Southeast Asian Foods in Columbia Heights was the best for snacks, chaat and weekend poori. Sadly they've closed. The new owners seem very friendly and the food was very good when I had it last, but I miss a few things from the old menu. I haven't been in the last few months so can't comment on how it is, but it is definitely worth a try. Like many of the best ethnic places in town, it's in a grocery store.

                      Speaking of grocery stores, Pooja is an Indian grocery store (my new favorite) and they have been working on opening a chaat restaurant. I (and they) have no idea when it will be done, but in the meantime, they do have fresh breads, samosas and other chaats available. If you are in the neighborhood and you're still hungry, it's in the same mall as Dong Yang which has the best Korean in town, and of course, is also in a grocery store.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: misterpatrick
                        m
                        misterpatrick Feb 22, 2010 11:57 AM

                        I couldn't find out how to link to Pooja, so here's the address:
                        Pooja Grocers
                        855 45th Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis, MN 55421-2304

                        1. re: misterpatrick
                          f
                          faith Feb 22, 2010 04:41 PM

                          Thanks for the Pooja tip Mr Patrick. Just curious, have you tried Gandhi Mahal?

                          1. re: faith
                            m
                            misterpatrick Feb 23, 2010 11:01 AM

                            I tried Gandhi Mahal when they first opened and thought it was fine, but it was so similar to every other Indian restaurant in the TC's that I didn't get too excited. Also, I am a vegetarian, so for me, the daals and other standards better really be good or unusual or I'm not going to get excited. I have a hard time paying $10 for some chole that I could just whip up at home in 10 minutes, I mean it's $.50 of beans.

                            But it's been awhile since I was there so I can't really comment. But I think as a whole, Indian restaurants here aren't really cooking for Indians so they don't feel the need to be very ambitions and so don't really move beyond the standards. America's just want to get some tikka chicken or whatever and don't want to experiment with regionalism or new flavors. It's a lot like Mexican, Vietnamese or Chinese food here, we have some preconceived notions about what that cuisine is and if something tries to go "upscale" or move outside of that box it often fails. Occasionally something new (like szechuan cooking or masa-based stuff like Los Ocampo) gets added to the mix, but it's a slow process.

                            What I am getting at is that while I would love to see some great new authentic or upscale, or experimental Indian restaurants, I don't know that they could actually survive in the Twin Cities. People want their tikka masala and if they don't find what they expect, they'll probably not be back. That being said, I'd love to be proven wrong on all fronts and hope for an huge influx of new authentic ethnic restaurants in town.

                            1. re: misterpatrick
                              mtullius Feb 23, 2010 11:31 AM

                              I understand what you're saying, but I think you're wrong about what COULD work here-- Little Szechuan has been wildly successful, Ngon Bistro is thriving, and both of these are examples of what you're talking about. I think the fact that there aren't more such places has to do more with the type of people who open restaurants and less with what consumers will support. I was just thinking about how great it would be if there were other ethnic restaurants with Ngon's commitment to local/organic/high quality ingredients... I think they would succeed.

                              1. re: mtullius
                                m
                                misterpatrick Feb 23, 2010 11:40 AM

                                I agree about Ngon which I do like quite a bit. But, I have traveled a bunch in both China and Vietnam so know what these cuisines really could be and you just don't see that here. I think there are some ethnic restaurants doing some great stuff, but for the most part they are hole-in-the-walls catering to their own nationals. Dong Yang, Mañana, Los Ocampo, Bangkok Thai all come to mind. Tanpopo is one that managed to veer out of the sushi/tepanyaki house box and is doing great.

                              2. re: misterpatrick
                                k
                                kevin47 Feb 25, 2010 05:49 PM

                                I have found Gandhi Mahal to be a cut above the other Indian places in the TCs, but I agree that it does not substantially depart from the local standard.

                                I agree with your fundamental point about our eagerness to put "ethnic" food into a certain box. People want to feel like they're slumming it when they eat ethnic food, a perception chefs here have to fight.

                                That said, have you tried Om? What about Jasmine 26, Subo, or Saffron? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

                                Have you tried Om?

                                1. re: kevin47
                                  m
                                  MayrMN Mar 2, 2010 02:38 PM

                                  I'm hearing what misterpatrick is saying, but I think that if any one of the Indian places mentioned here offered a 'separate menu' (as the Tea House does) that maybe foodies would ask for it, knowing it was more authentic and not dumbed down.

                                  A few years ago my husband and I were in London, we wanted Indian food and when ordering struck up a conversation with the manager/owner. He steered us toward more adventurous items and made sure they were authentically spiced, when we told him that we weren't afraid. Apparently the British like their Indian like Minnesotans do :)

                                  In the end, I guess get to know the owner/mgr at the place you like best and see if he can work some magic for you. Some places are more capable than others. We have found that Surabhi in Bloomington had a few surprising items on the buffet and you don't usually see that.

                        2. seacatte Feb 25, 2010 03:46 PM

                          I will admit to not having eaten too much Indian in the MSP area, but I've eaten at a lot of curry houses on the east coast of Scotland, and India Palace in Eden Prairie is still my favorite. I know it's been rated the best Indian Restaurant in MSP by Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. They serve northern Indian style food (Punjabi), but offer vegetarian dishes. My favorite dish is the Lamb Palak, but everything I've eaten there (and I do try for variety from time to time on the menu) is really tasty. And the garlic naan... it melts in your mouth, it's so wonderful.

                          If you're in the area, give it a shot. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

                          -----
                          India Palace
                          936 Prairie Center Dr, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

                          1. m
                            MNCruzn Mar 2, 2010 01:30 PM

                            We have really enjoyed India House on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

                            I have two daughters (8 & 11) and they were able to find something they wanted on the menu, order it to their liking (MILD!) and enjoyed it!

                            Tea (chai) was very good, service was appropriate.

                            I'm not super well-versed in all of the Indian restaurants around town, but I would certainly return here...

                            1. j
                              JimGrinsfelder Mar 2, 2010 09:54 PM

                              I second any recommendations for Nala Pak. The food is vegetarian and very good.

                              I also liked Sambol in Eagan. It's in a strip mall on the south side of Yankee Doodle Road a bit east of 35E. I think. They served stuff not normally seen in every other Indian Restaurant in town. Like Chaat Papri.

                              1. c
                                chowsound Mar 3, 2010 08:30 AM

                                I like Om downtown. Good chef from what I know and the food I have had has been great :)

                                1. m
                                  MNkateo Mar 4, 2010 06:26 AM

                                  I second Biryani- my husband's and my favorite indian in the Twin Cities by far! Delicious and worth a trip.

                                  1. m
                                    MayrMN Mar 12, 2010 05:06 PM

                                    My husband and I just got back from dinner at Tandoor in Bloomington. We were very disappointed. We've been there at least 5 times in the past 18 months since we moved back to Mpls from Fridley.

                                    Our first clue things were different was that the pakora's were more like hush puppies than shredded veggie fritters. Then the chicken makhani (butter chicken) was made with dried out chicken (prolly old tandoori chicken) instead of the cubes we've had before. The Lamb Vindaloo was 'ok' but for the price, I think there were about 6 1" cubes total. The potatoes were bigger to 'fool' you.

                                    In the end, we decided that we wont be going back. Gonna give Gandhi Mahal a try or go back to Surabhi. I wish just one thing had been 'off', we'd have likely chalked it up to an off night for the kitchen.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MayrMN
                                      l
                                      larssten Mar 12, 2010 10:41 PM

                                      Ghani Mahal is by a far the Indian. I've been around Rajas Majal and India Palace and other places but Ghandi is clearly the best place.

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