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Best Indian in the Triangle - Vimala's Curry Blossom Cafe

f
foodieinraleigh Dec 21, 2010 05:56 PM

We were in Chapel Hill last weekend and went to Vimala's Curry Blossom Cafe on West Franklin Street. Vimala's occupies the old space where Sandwich use to be, so it quaint dining room. We live in Raleigh and have been to a lot of Indian restaurants over the years, so we were really looking forward to eating at Vimala's. Boy, we were not disappointed. Vimala's has skyrocketed to our #1 Indian restaurant in the triangle. We started off with the soup of the day, which was a tamarind and lime in a vegetable base with rice. The soup broth by itself might be overwhelming for some with its bright tamarind overtones, but when eaten with the rice, it was heaven on a cold winter's night. The pakoras were also great. We ordered three entrees: vegetable thali with brown rice, beef curry thali and the Kafta curry. The thalis were very good and served with a season bhaji (cabbage based on this occasion), raita, a spicy chutney, dal, chapati and pappadum. That said, we were blown away by the Kafta curry. The mixed vegetable balls in a savory curry cream sauce was unbelievable. So fresh, but very tasty. No Indian beer, but a very good selection of bottled microbrewery beers. If you are looking for a change from the routine heavy, cooked for hours curry, head to Vimala's. You will not be disappointed. Great reason to make a trip to Chapel Hill from Raleigh.

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Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
431 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

  1. RonboNC Dec 22, 2010 06:45 AM

    Vimala's is definitely on my ToEat list but it's just a long way off from me...

    Out of curiosity, what are your fave Indian places here in Raleigh? I've been sticking to Royal Indian, Kadhai and Taj Mahal. Saffron/Azitra are fine but pricey on a regular basis...

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    Taj Mahal
    4520 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27604

    6 Replies
    1. re: RonboNC
      f
      foodieinraleigh Dec 22, 2010 01:37 PM

      Up to a couple of month's ago, I would have said Royal India, but that quality of the food has gone down recently to the point that Saffron and Azitra are back on the list of favorites.

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      Azitra Restaurant
      8411 Brier Creek Pkwy Ste 101, Raleigh, NC 27617

      1. re: foodieinraleigh
        RonboNC Dec 22, 2010 03:48 PM

        Cool, thanks foodie! Glad to see I haven't missed anything in the area yet...

        1. re: RonboNC
          t
          Tom from Raleigh Dec 23, 2010 04:56 AM

          RonboNC,

          Vimala's is actually worth the drive from Raleigh. It may seem far to go for Indian food, but this is really wonderful Indian food. When I first went there, the food redefined "Indian food" for me. I was struck by the lack of cream in the sauces. To give you a level set, we were fans of Saffron in Cary before we moved to Chapel Hill this summer. Also, there are a number of authentic-looking Indian places in Cary that I've been meaning to try near SuperWok.

          I'm glad Vimala's doesn't serve Indian beer, because Indian beer is generally pretty awful. Don't get me started on Tsing Tao.

          1. re: Tom from Raleigh
            RonboNC Dec 23, 2010 06:26 AM

            Thanks for the vote of confidence, Tom! Vimala seemed a bit higher end and focused on local ingredients which would be cool. I was told by an Indian friend that a lot of Indian food in the States is Americanized, i.e. heavy on the cream and butter. So yeah, might be worth the trip for Vimala's style of cooking.

            Out in Cary/Little India on Chatham you've got Suchi, Shree Udupi, Biryani House and Cool Breezes. The couple I've tried are OK, hole-in-the-wall type places. But will definitely put Vimala on the ToEat list. I just find when I get out to Chapel Hill I end up wanting to do Allen & Sons or the Kitchen!

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            Biryani House
            744 E Chatham St Ste B, Cary, NC 27511

            Cool Breeze
            740 E Chatham St Ste E, Cary, NC 27511

            1. re: RonboNC
              f
              foodieinraleigh Dec 23, 2010 06:52 PM

              Vimala is not higher end. It is very reasonably priced. Most of the entrees on the dinner menu run $8-$14. It is quite small and you may need to wait for a table if you have a party of more than 2 people.

              1. re: RonboNC
                t
                Tom from Raleigh Dec 24, 2010 07:27 AM

                Put The Pig on your ToEat list as well.

      2. c
        Chow Penguin Dec 26, 2010 07:53 AM

        Has the original poster been to any of the following and if so, how does he/she rate Vimala's against these?

        Udipi (in Cary), Tower (Morrisville), Spice and Curry (Durham).

        I've not been to Vimala's but have heard positive things about the food.

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        Udipi Cafe
        3300 Peachtree Industrial Blvd Ste J, Duluth, GA 30096

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chow Penguin
          f
          foodieinraleigh Jan 3, 2011 04:21 PM

          Udipi is great for vegetarian buffet. We live close to Falls Lake, so we do not get to Cary unless we are in the area and then it is usually for lunch. We have not been to Tower or Spice and Curry.

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          Udipi Cafe
          3300 Peachtree Industrial Blvd Ste J, Duluth, GA 30096

        2. d
          dschoonmaker Jan 7, 2011 10:24 AM

          Four of us had lunch today at Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, and we were all impressed, some more than others.

          I hadn't been to sandwhich, so I was new to the location. It's tucked back into the Courtyard behind Penang, and is rather small. Business was brisk by the time we left, and other diners were eager to have our table.

          I had the marsala dosa and was delighted. The dosa was as good as any I've had--crispy and flavorful. The marsala was very tasty and medium spicy.

          The chicken curry plate received a "pretty good" from the chef of the group, whose skepticism was high owing to the largely vegetarian lunch menu. (Dinner offers a much wider selection for vegetarian and carnivore alike.)

          The chole bhatura plate got a very strong review. The bread was said to be the perfect counterpoint to the chick pea curry. Again moderately spicy.

          The other entree was a vegetable curry plate, which was rated "good" but not "very good," owing to something that might have been a potato that seemed a little undercooked, and the fact that the red curry was simply to spicy for the person's palate. The green, however, was fine. I tasted the red, and it rates medium on my Scoville, where habanero is hot.

          You order at the counter and food is delivered to the table by the people preparing it. When my dosa arrived first, I was told that normally doesn't happen. The other three dishes arrived at the same time. One of people cooking stopped by to see if everything was okay. All the staff were very friendly.

          Once finished, we bussed our own table. Vimala's is casual, by I don't mind that a bit. Overall, a very satisfying experience, and we'll be back. Better than Saffron? I couldn't say, as I haven't sampled enough of either restaurant's menu, but Vimala's is certainly a contender.

          -----
          Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
          431 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

          8 Replies
          1. re: dschoonmaker
            b
            bbqme Jan 7, 2011 10:54 AM

            It's "masala" which is the Hindi (and other Indian languages) word for spices. Just didn't want readers to get confused with "marsala," the wine.

            The best dosa and sambar I have had in the Triangle is at Tower in Morrisville. I recommend the paper masala dosa, which is extra thin and crispy.

            1. re: bbqme
              r
              Rory Jan 7, 2011 08:03 PM

              I'd kill for a dosa;-) Just back from dinner at Vimila's. Last time Bbqme & my dad & I went. And it was okay. Tonight we had chicken curry thali and pork vindaloo thali. They were both complex and hot! The thalis came with dal (weakest part of the meal, quite bland) basmati rice, raita, coriander chutney & pickle, roti & a papadam. We both totally enjoyed it. But the place is tiny and a crush. Vimala came over to us & brought my father a bun stuffed with chicken, a new item and delicious. I'm only sorry that I didn't have the special iddli with sambar. Bbqme you've got to go!

              1. re: Rory
                w
                wintersummer Jan 8, 2011 10:19 AM

                Rory - I was at Vimala's last evening too! We had the beef thali and thought it was all wonderful, even the dal.

                1. re: Rory
                  b
                  bbqme Jan 8, 2011 05:11 PM

                  Very happy to hear this! Living in Chapel Hill and given Vimala's story, I am pulling for her to succeed but was underwhelmed with the first experience. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, perhaps the criticism we made in the other thread got back to them and it was taken in the constructive criticism spirit in which it was meant. I will definitely visit soon. Heck, are they open on Sundays?

                  1. re: bbqme
                    r
                    Rory Jan 9, 2011 12:46 PM

                    sorry looks like no Sundays or Mondays. here is the website:
                    http://curryblossom.com/

                    wintersummer: sorry I missed you:) I wonder if the chole is tastier now, and want to try the kofta, iddli...decisions decisions;-)

                    1. re: bbqme
                      LulusMom Jan 12, 2011 01:14 AM

                      If you're up for meeting for lunch sometime (after March 6) and don't mind a 4 year old along, Lulu and I would be thrilled to meet you there (and anyone else). My email is in my profile - I'm on vacation and can only check email every few days, so don't be disturbed by lack of answer if you write.

                      1. re: LulusMom
                        b
                        bbqme Jan 12, 2011 04:31 PM

                        Absolutely! But my memory is bad when it comes to this stuff so don't be shy about reminding me about this after March 6th. Lulu is no problem, I have three boys of my own, , 13, 11, and 7.

                        1. re: bbqme
                          LulusMom Jan 15, 2011 11:23 PM

                          It's a deal. will remind. Lulu is (normally) fairly easy to deal with at meals, and likes showing off her taste buds. We'll look forward to it.

              2. ToothTooth Jan 13, 2011 05:29 AM

                The wife and I had dinner at Vimala's last night before a show at the Cat's Cradle. The restaurant was packed! Understandably so because the food was great. I had the Samosa Chole Chaat and the lady had the Thali. Really, really good things are happening here.

                1. b
                  bbqme Jan 24, 2011 12:53 PM

                  In the moods for dosas the sainted wife and I made the trek over to Vimala's. The dosa itself was very good, slightly tangy from properly fermented batter perfectly cooked so that it's softness in the middle and crispy on the edges-- and it was huge like a proper dosa. The coconut-cilantro chutney was spot on. Rather than putting the potato filling inside they put it in a dish on the side. I found it too mushy and bland. However, the sambar was fantastic, better than any other Indian joint in the Triangle. It was thick, spicy, and with rich veg flavor, but not overly sour like some places. One complaint: the chutney, potato, and sambar are rather small portions; however, they gladly gave me more of the chutney when I asked. Besides, it's only $7 a plate and given the high quality of local produce used I give them a pass.

                  For dessert we had the rasmalai. The milky sauce was very nice, redolent of cardamom and pistachios. The milk curd balls were a bit bland and grainy, like made with ricotta cheese. The authentic way of making it is to make paneer, knead it a lot, shape into balls, and then cook in a pressure cooker in sugar syrup (yes, the same steps as roshgollas). I imagine this is too time consuming-- and if not done correctly the balls can fall apart when pressure cooked. But again, for $3 for a portion that was large enough for two to share I'm not complaining.

                  I can't think of too many places in Chapel Hill where two people can have a finer lunch for $20. The idly looked good too. I'll have to try that next time.

                  1. f
                    fussycouple Jan 25, 2011 03:40 AM

                    We got takeout from Vimala's this past Friday night. I have now sampled all their homemade "chutneys" (achaar). These are intense, and a little goes a long way. They taste awfully good but trying to eat a lot of one of them is like trying to eat butter, you can only eat so much.

                    We got a pork vindaloo special, and a chicken thali. We got raita, and bhakura bread, and papadam, and samosas.

                    When I was a boy, a man from northern India came to work with my father at the textile plant -- he was here to study how to make women's underwear. When we'd go over to his house for dinner he'd let me hang out with him in the kitchen while he cooked. It was there that I learned to mix my own spice powders, including ingredients like "these hot peppers that grow in the mountains that I brought here to America because you don't have them here". That was a long time ago.

                    Vimala's cooking reminds me a great deal of his. The spicing is not typical of what you get in local Indian restaurants, so if that is your standard, be prepared to adjust the thinking cap a bit. It is however, very very good.

                    Vimala's sources a lot of ingredients locally, they will feed you if you need to eat, and their prices are very very reasonable. I'm concerned if they will be successful at their experiment --for our sakes, I hope so (not just for the food).

                    I will point out in passing that while there I saw two local farmers eating with their families, and another group that included people who I know are members of Southern Foodways Alliance and Slow Food. To me, this is like finding out where the best coffee and donuts are by cruising to see where the police stop, i.e., it's a sure fire way of figuring out where to go.

                    22 Replies
                    1. re: fussycouple
                      ToothTooth Jan 25, 2011 05:01 AM

                      As noted on Vimala's website, there are other ways to support the restaurant besides just dining in:

                      http://curryblossom.com/vimala/2011/0...

                      Most interesting to me on that list is the suggestion of microloans to help support the business.

                      1. re: ToothTooth
                        f
                        foodieinraleigh Feb 8, 2011 01:42 PM

                        Glad to see our original post generated a lot of energy around Vimala's. We had a chance to revisit Saffron in Morrisville after a hiatus. The food was outstanding and far superior to Royal India and Azitra. Can't wait to get back to Chapel Hill.

                        1. re: foodieinraleigh
                          t
                          Tom from Raleigh Feb 9, 2011 05:27 AM

                          Greg Cox's review of Vimala's will be in the N&O this Friday. That should perk up their business quite a bit.

                          I think Greg will rate the place 3.5 stars.

                          1. re: Tom from Raleigh
                            u
                            ucctgg Feb 9, 2011 09:59 AM

                            I hope he was able to have a crepe for dessert next door at Veronique's.

                            1. re: ucctgg
                              LulusMom Feb 9, 2011 10:32 AM

                              Veronique's is a really nice little place.

                              1. re: LulusMom
                                t
                                Tom from Raleigh Feb 13, 2011 05:37 PM

                                I think the crepe truck is as good as Veronique's.

                                1. re: Tom from Raleigh
                                  LulusMom Feb 13, 2011 07:06 PM

                                  I love them both. Veronique's has the plus of being open more than just Saturdays, but I'm big on both of them. And I think my husband is slightly in love with Veronique, so I have to give her points.

                                  1. re: LulusMom
                                    r
                                    Rory Mar 25, 2011 12:07 PM

                                    Popped into Vimala's last night for a quick bite. Oh my fabulous. I had a side of Chole (chickpeas), methi roti (the night's special) and a glass of Vinho Verde. The chole were terrific I could taste the tamarind and sopped up the great gravy with the flatbread. The wine ($5) went perfectly. People were sitting outside at tables so it wasn't over-crowded... The server (who nicely suggested I might want the chole as a side not a main) said they were quite busy. Deservedly so. Cost $12. 95 Perfect....Vimala's just gets better and better.

                                    1. re: Rory
                                      w
                                      wintersummer Mar 25, 2011 03:24 PM

                                      Rory - well, we just missed one another again at Vimala's! We were there on Wednesday. We were just a bit disappointed in our food this time - it was still very good, just not as good as we've had before. We shared a beef curry dish - and the beef was just extremely fatty, meaning it had chunks and chunks of fat. I think that turned me off just a bit. With that said, I'd still encourage people to go to Vimalas. Food is great.

                                      1. re: wintersummer
                                        r
                                        Rory Mar 25, 2011 10:48 PM

                                        Wintersummer; not again! that is just too too fate-like. It's funny about meat, the few times a year I have it, I like it fatty, but it seems impossible to get. Where were you sitting? I came in 6:30 from a meeting and was at the counter by the window. Really delightful sipping my wine...

                                      2. re: Rory
                                        LulusMom Mar 25, 2011 04:43 PM

                                        I'm going to be obnoxious and say that I'm happy to hear they have wine. I had no idea. Anyway, Lulu and I are looking for lunch companions here, if anyone is available. We usually lunch around noon. We have company coming next week, but after that we're open. Mere ...?

                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                          r
                                          Rory Apr 27, 2011 11:03 AM

                                          Just was back last night., I had a great spicy Kerala fish -wonderful special. Also dined in the courtyard with a jazz trio playing. Great atmosphere.

                                          fyi hounds; she's selling hot lemon pickle & mango.

                                          1. re: Rory
                                            r
                                            Rory Aug 4, 2011 06:33 PM

                                            they're now holding cooking classes
                                            http://www.curryblossom.com/

                                            1. re: Rory
                                              b
                                              boschow Jul 24, 2012 08:25 PM

                                              I'm originally from Kerala, and I can tell you that the spicy Kerala fish is one of the best renditions I've had. Ever. Complex, spicy, layered.

                                              She came over and introduced herself to us as we were leaving. So warm and friendly, she radiates graciousness. We will be back. Often.

                                              1. re: boschow
                                                b
                                                burgeoningfoodie Jul 25, 2012 11:02 AM

                                                A lot of people in the area tend to like Shree Udupi in Cary as well but doubt they have that dish.

                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                                  meatn3 Jul 25, 2012 11:41 AM

                                                  Shree Udupi is vegetarian.

                                                  1. re: meatn3
                                                    r
                                                    Rory Jul 25, 2012 03:16 PM

                                                    wow thanks so much. I'm going to Vimala's Thurs. hope they have the fish! Yes, most Southern Indian restaurants are completely veg. so Vimala & Cholanad are unusual and a treat. It's amazing how Chapel Hill is now a Southern Indian paradise! I'm uber happy.

                                                    1. re: Rory
                                                      b
                                                      bbqme Jul 25, 2012 06:37 PM

                                                      I went to Sai Krishna Bhavan in Morrisville recently. For a veg only joint it was really good.

                                                      1. re: bbqme
                                                        r
                                                        Rory Jul 27, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                        bbqme; did yo have anything special at Sai Krishna ?

                                                        fyi @ Vimala's she's putting in a big coffee & juice bar; will be open in August.

                                                        1. re: Rory
                                                          b
                                                          bbqme Jul 27, 2012 06:08 PM

                                                          I liked their dosa and gobi manchurian. But don't get me wrong, being an omnivore I still prefer Vimala's and Cholanad.

                                                2. re: boschow
                                                  t
                                                  Tom from Raleigh Jul 27, 2012 08:02 PM

                                                  I think Vimala's spirit permeates the place, like a big hug. Love the food!

                                                  1. re: Tom from Raleigh
                                                    r
                                                    Rory Jul 28, 2012 01:14 AM

                                                    Hehe, meat for everyone. @Tom, I so agree.
                                                    I meant to say; she's giving a class on how to make dosas, sambar, chutney. Sign-up sheet is posted there; I already did I'd love to make dosas at home or even get the sambar recipe.

                          2. b
                            burgeoningfoodie Aug 5, 2011 06:45 AM

                            I think the Saffron in Chapel Hill could give it a run.. granted the two are vastly different in who they are aiming at (price wise). I can't speak about the regions of different cooking. I am very interested in the new place opening in Raleigh... Mantra I believe it is called. Their menu looks great and the chef has trained with some pedigree.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                              RonboNC Sep 2, 2012 06:43 AM

                              Late follow-up but for S. Indian, I do enjoy Tower in Morrisville over Shree Udupi. Dosas, vegetarian but it still works for me. Mantra I've been to a LOT! It's not cheap but Chef Rawat puts a twist on a lot of Indian classics. Brought my friend Joe (Keralan guy) to Mantra and he recognized the Chef from his days in NYC. Chef Rawat worked the original Saffon, moved to Chapel Hill Saffron and now has Mantra as his own. Very upscale Indian dining. Anyhow, I'd recommend their executive lunch special if you're trying it out for the first time.

                              Separately have heard good things about Cholanad but don't get out that way too often...

                              1. re: RonboNC
                                r
                                rockycat Sep 2, 2012 05:29 PM

                                Can't agree about Mantra if you're already a fan of Indian food. We thought it might be best for timid palates who are uncertain about trying Indian. The vibe is very hip, if that's your thing, but I can't see going there for the food with all the other great Indian options in the area.

                                1. re: RonboNC
                                  b
                                  burgeoningfoodie Sep 11, 2012 01:53 PM

                                  I've heard many positive things about cholonad and would love to go with a few folks. I don't konw the difference in different Indian foods outside of N vs. S.. That is I wouldn't recognize Tamil from Punjabi etc.

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                    r
                                    Rory Sep 12, 2012 11:48 AM

                                    Bfoodie, ha I'm always ready to go there & eat their fab Tamil food. If you want to make a group thing, I'm in & can explain Tamil cuisine. Sunday, I'm going to Vimala for a cooking class to finally master the dosa.. Tamil vs Punjab [quick n dirty version] : Tamil: black mustard seeds, dried red chilis, curry leaves, coconut milk: Punjab: milk/cream cumin, cinnamon, coriander, garam masala.

                                    1. re: Rory
                                      r
                                      Rory Sep 16, 2012 03:20 PM

                                      Just came back from Vimala's cooking class; it was great, packed full of people & she's going to have more coming up for those who are keen.

                                      1. re: Rory
                                        r
                                        Rory Jan 9, 2013 06:53 PM

                                        Just a heads up Vimala's is now open Mondays, I think they're going to do meatless Mondays menu; all veg.
                                        The bar will be open late with music.

                                        just had dinner & they're experimenting: kim chee uttapam so freakin amazing! she also had a pickled Goan pork dish, that was fab.

                                        1. re: Rory
                                          b
                                          bbqme Jan 10, 2013 12:21 PM

                                          Oooo, Goan dish has me intrigued. I love Goan food!

                                      2. re: Rory
                                        b
                                        bbqme Jan 10, 2013 12:25 PM

                                        To add to Rory's reply, Panjab's food is influenced by the invading Greeks and Persians. Thus they do a lot of grilled meats (tandoori) and have wheat as a staple (e.g., naan), whereas in the South it's mostly rice and rice flour and lentil flour based staples (dosa, idly, uttapam,etc). The food is also much much spicier in the South (but not at Cholanad).

                                        1. re: bbqme
                                          r
                                          Rory Jan 17, 2013 02:04 PM

                                          Before i run off let me be a good hound like bbqme & explain; Goan food is a true fusion of the Portuguese Christians (who colonized Goa) in the 16th cent and the Konkan region in Southwest India - Goa. So you'll find many dishes with pork, vinegar, chillis, coconut. It's spicy, complex cuisine. I love it too!

                                          1. re: Rory
                                            b
                                            bbqme Jan 27, 2013 08:50 AM

                                            Goa is a favorite of mine, after Bengali of course. A lot of their dishes have a lovely balance of sweet, tangy (vinegar or tamarind), and heat.

                                            Have a wonderful trip Rory!

                                2. Janiedoe111 Jan 26, 2013 12:11 PM

                                  Big time Indian food fan here. I've lived in Chapel Hill, Durham, and now Raleigh. My friends and I adore Dawat in Morrisville.

                                  Not only is the food great, BUT the service is also on point.

                                  I really like the food at Vimala's but it is a haul from Raleigh, and as a few others have mentioned, the place is quite small so seating can be difficult in cooler months.

                                  Dawat is super close to the Morrisville/Cary Saffron and we all agree Dawat is far superior to either Saffron location.

                                  3735 Davis Dr, Morrisville, North Carolina 27560
                                  (919) 924-0503

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: Janiedoe111
                                    f
                                    foodieinraleigh Jan 26, 2013 02:01 PM

                                    We totally agree with your comment on Dawat. It is far superior to Saffron. The food and service at Dawat reminds of Royal Indian in its early days. Their balance of spices and heat are far better than Azitra, Mantra and Blue Mango; at a price that is a good value.

                                    1. re: foodieinraleigh
                                      b
                                      bbqme Jan 27, 2013 08:56 AM

                                      There are so many Indian joints in Morrisville now it's hard to know which one to try! I have now put Dawat on the list. Azitra didn't impress me, a lot of cream in several of their dishes. Haven't tried Blue Mango after reading that it was started by the former chef at Azitra. Mantra is very good, just don't go there since I live on the west side.

                                      1. re: bbqme
                                        RonboNC Jan 27, 2013 09:49 AM

                                        I've done Azitra, Blue Mango, Mantra and would like to try Dawat but I did try Tamarind from where I believe, the Dawat chef was from. In general the are all pretty pricey for Indian food but prefer Mantra over the rest. For lunch it's a good deal.

                                        Don't get out to Chapel Hill much but would like to try Cholanad and was impressed by Vimala's. Funny thing but I've also tried Regency Indian-Bakery which does Indian food out of a gas station. Shockingly, it's not bad at all for lunch..

                                        1. re: RonboNC
                                          b
                                          bbqme Jan 27, 2013 03:15 PM

                                          I don't understand the comment "pricey for Indian food...", and frankly, find it insulting-- although I'm sure you didn't mean to be. Many Indian dishes are quite time consuming, labor intensive, and require a lot of ingredients-- if anything, it should be more expensive

                                          1. re: bbqme
                                            RonboNC Jan 27, 2013 05:35 PM

                                            BBQme I lived in San Francisco for six years and all the Indian places I frequented had entrees typically under $10. No different than Chinese food, most ethnic food places that cater to their people are not white tablecloth type spots. So they tend to be relatively inexpensive. Azitra, Mantra and Saffron don't fall into that category. And as an FYI, most Chinese food is very time-consuming and labor intensive, I've cooked it and yet it's still relatively cheap in the Triangle.

                                            If you find it insulting, you really need to get out more, visit major urban areas and eat at great "hole in the wall" ethnic places. I don't find anything I said "insulting", just accurate.

                                            1. re: RonboNC
                                              b
                                              bbqme Jan 28, 2013 10:58 AM

                                              Ronbo, well sure, the food of any cuisine can be had cheaply, but your statement implies that there must be some prerequisite for Indian food to be offered cheaply.

                                              Yes, some Chinese food can be time intensive but most-- certainly not the ones being sold cheaply-- are not. Inexpensive Chinese food requires a quick stir fry with some sort of sauce requiring 5 minutes or less. The dishes requiring more expensive ingredients and time/skill, such as what's found at Gourmet Kingdom, certainly cost far more than $10. So your make a false analogy.

                                              1. re: bbqme
                                                r
                                                Rory Feb 1, 2013 12:46 PM

                                                Arg I'm with you bbqme; it's this kind of attitude that get's to me.
                                                Ronbo, do you realize that there are various regions to Indian food and they are all very different? Bengal is not the Punjab is not Goa is not Tamil Nadu.... there is also home-style and street-style food vs. laborious and elaborate court, fusion, restaurant food. Indian cuisine (and we're talking in generalities it's like saying European) is very very complex. Do you expect Elaine's to charge the same as Dame's Chicken and Waffles?
                                                I make simple homey Tamil & Kerala dishes at home 5 out of 7 days of the week and go out for a restaurant experience that I cannot duplicate.

                                                1. re: Rory
                                                  RonboNC Feb 2, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                  Rory, yes I'm aware there are different regions-states but my point is that restaurants like Azitra and Mantra inhabit the high end of the restaurant scale for a specific reason. To cater to a demographic that sees Indian food as exotic and is willing to pay more money for it in that environment. There are probably many who would be less willing to pay less and go hole in the wall as I'd prefer to do.

                                                  But Indian food is not intrinsically expensive due to some sort of armchair-academic perception of the cuisine. In a country of 1 billion plus it's unlikely. I've dined with my Indian friends at Azitra and Mantra and the comment is usually, "it's good but it's expensive. C'mon now, we're talking vegetables for $x." And yes, I've been to India and spent ten days in country with an Indian family.

                                                  In the end, I don't judge your perceptions but you all are more than happy to judge a comment like "it's pricey" as some sort of insult and slap in the face. Very lame and it strikes me of food snobbery. If you want to go for an upscale experience and pay more, more power to you. My comment was just based on my opinion which is equally valid. I enjoy Mantra a LOT but I certainly can't go there on a weekly basis. I've happily gotten Indian at Regency (a gas station) which I'm good with.

                                                  And I'm not going to even start with the comments on Chinese cuisine. Not even worth my time...

                                                  1. re: RonboNC
                                                    r
                                                    Rory Feb 8, 2013 01:55 AM

                                                    Since there is a big South Asian population in North Carolina, Indian food is normal and indigenous. It is exotic to you & I hope you will wake up and shed the attitude.
                                                    Vegetables are quite expensive, I'm very good at vegan vegetarian cooking which I do every day. Red peppers cost $3.00 per pepper so kindly drop that assumption. It's expensive, meat is subsidized in the USA not vegetables.
                                                    Finally you can go to Cholanad a superb upscale Tamil Restaurant and have a terrific dosa for $10 equally you can go to homey Vimala's and have a side of sag paneer for $7 or tandoori chicken for $12.00 & that chicken is locally sourced. Finally to be fair I just checked The Tower in Morrisville and there isn't one main dish (except the thali) over $10.00. So I expect you're going to the wrong restaurants. Just ask us, that's why we're here.

                                                    1. re: Rory
                                                      b
                                                      burgeoningfoodie Feb 8, 2013 02:30 PM

                                                      A big South Asian population in North Carolina (whether that is true or not), does not mean that Indian food is normal nor indigenous. I think that is left up to the individual and their experiences. It is definitely not indigenous to North Carolina. I also don't think you took the time to read what Ron was saying based on your reply that you still think it is exotic to him as he never said that.

                                                      But I am expressing that I feel hostility coming from you, Rory, when there doesn't need to be and would like to make you aware of how some may interpret that.

                                                      In the end, there are high end restaurants and there are casual restaurants for almost every type of dining whether its something that is comparatively unique for the average diner like Indian or true Japanese food or something average like hamburgers and hotdogs.

                                                      Some high end places may be bad. I for one am not a fan of Azitra. I think it is the Olive Garden of the Indian dining scene and so I would be more willing to explore some other high end place such as Cholonad or Mantra. Again, it all comes down to what I want or haven't tried. If I want biryani or palak paneer, I'm certainly not going to seek them out in high end places but if it is something like masala crab or something that I know is only offered at a place that charges higher..than I'm going to go there to give it a try.

                                                      Lastly, I think this conversation has gotten away from the subject of the OP.

                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                                        r
                                                        Rory Feb 8, 2013 06:50 PM

                                                        You should seek out biryani in a high end place like Cholanad (it's wonderful) biryani is a famous court food of the Muslim princely state of Hyderabad.

                                                        Indigenous means born in the country. Asian-Americans born in North Carolina are as indigenous as 6th gen Scottish-Americans. I notice French restaurants are never termed 'ethnic' food, think about it...

                                                        1. re: Rory
                                                          b
                                                          burgeoningfoodie Feb 11, 2013 05:11 AM

                                                          I was just trying to make a case for the fact that there are foods that one will find at almost all Indian places (maybe biryani is not the best case) vs. food that one might only find at a "fancier" if not pricier establishment. It is not a matter of needing a history or geographical lesson for needs.

                                                        2. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                                          j
                                                          Jeanne Feb 8, 2013 09:59 PM

                                                          Burgeoningfoodie - what Rory said is very true - there IS a big South Asian population in NC - and especially in Durham with families and students and the Research Triangle area and the large population there.

                                                          I love Indian food - need to learn more about the different regions - but have cooked some several times and it is not inexpensive. Just the number of spices can be expensive if you don't have them in your selection.

                                                          I think if the people who are making some of these comments have tried cooking it at home they might adjust their thinking.

                                                          1. re: Jeanne
                                                            b
                                                            burgeoningfoodie Feb 11, 2013 05:09 AM

                                                            What I was wondering is whether the big South Asian population is big in NC vs. big in just this area of NC.

                                                            Rory - indigenous means native or originating in a particular place neither of which I would consider using as you applied it.

                                                            : produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment <indigenous plants> <the indigenous culture>

                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                                              r
                                                              Rory Feb 13, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                              Native Southern iconic foods as sweet potatoes, okra, collards come from Africa; Carolina rice, country captain stew, the crepe myrtle are from Asia.

                                                              Asians are now the fastest-growing racial group in the US and according to the census NC is in the top 5 states with the fastest growing Asian population; it is 6% in Orange Co. and 4.6 in Durham. It is no surprise to me with Govs. Jindal and Haley of LA and SC and they are indigenous Southerners.

                                            2. re: RonboNC
                                              b
                                              burgeoningfoodie Jan 28, 2013 09:11 AM

                                              If I remember correctly.. the original Saffron in Morrisville had the chef from Tamarind who then went to the Saffron in Chapel Hill and from there over to Mantra.

                                      2. b
                                        burgeoningfoodie Jan 29, 2013 09:44 AM

                                        Anywho both Vimala and Cholonad were left off of the N/O list of restaurants.. surprisingly or unsurprisingly.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                          LulusMom Jan 29, 2013 10:29 AM

                                          Wow, how long was the list? like 10 or something?

                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                            b
                                            burgeoningfoodie Jan 29, 2013 03:57 PM

                                            http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/01/2...

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                              LulusMom Jan 29, 2013 04:31 PM

                                              Wow. Plenty to argue about there, isn't there?

                                              1. re: LulusMom
                                                b
                                                burgeoningfoodie Jan 30, 2013 05:06 AM

                                                As always. More omissions than anything.

                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                                  LulusMom Jan 30, 2013 05:17 AM

                                                  I had a boss/friend who used to say "If we ran the world, sweetcakes, if we ran the world ..." I think that sentiment is very fitting here.

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