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Spice Kitchen, new Indian restaurant in Trooper, PA

f
FelafelBoy Feb 16, 2011 10:24 PM

The Chowhound messageboard webpage did not allow me to respond to my original post on "new places to get Indian food in the Trooper/Audubon ... area" so I had to start this new post. (maybe the latest browser is required?)

What Spice Kitchen does very well - providing a very welcoming and warm ambience.

There are no small tables in this restaurant as is the case with almost every other Indian restaurant I have been to, so if you come as a couple or as a single, you will find yourself sitting at a very comfortable table, which is not necessarily the case at other such restaurants. There was very pleasant relaxing Indian music playing in the background at a comfortable decibel level and of an enjoyable nature (no Bollywood music here).

The couple that appeared to operate SK made it clear that they appreciated customers business and checked up on their wellbeing, as well as welcoming them back, something that doesn't occur at every other such restaurant.

Tables consisted of a sturdy cloth covering and upscale silverware. There is a small area in the entrance to hang coats so there is no need to bring coats into the restaurant unless desired. The ambience is a combination of casual, unpretentiousness, and elegance.

The lunch buffet consisted of a variety of dishes one might expect - a variety of vegetarian and chicken dishes, along with a few side dishes, consisting of appetizers, greens, soup, desserts, and tea.

At two visits I noticed that the soups offered were other than those listed on the menu (vegetable and creamy potato soups). The potato soup I had was of a light consistency and agreeable taste. It consisted of a few strands of ginger and onions. It was more tame and thinner than I had anticipated, which is what I prefer for this kind of soup.

The salad bar consisted of nothing other than iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes. Cucumbers and carrots would have been a welcome addition to the lettuce. The raita had too mild a taste for my preference.

Side dishes included pakoras and onion fritters (along with various chutneys).
A nice touch is that you get a basket of fresh naan brought to your table (choice of garlic or plain). The naan was very good - moist and quite different from what is found at some other restaurants in the area. What was interesting is that this naan stayed moist throughout the time of my meal. I had been told that when naan is allowed to sit out in trays, it dries out. This naan didn't loose its moist quality.

The rice at SK is very good - by very good I mean plain. At Taste of India, the rice seems to have an oil coating, and thus has a heavier feel in the mouth (and in the stomach). Lighter rice is a better compliment to dishes that are heavier in taste and have in themselves a degree of oil content. The main rice was called "Jeera" rice, but impressed me as being nothing other than basmati rice. I did not see nor taste cumin seeds or flavor in this rice. The other rice dish was a vegetable biryani which was very good and full of various vegetables and flavor.

Vegetarian dishes on the day of my visit consisted of chopped okra which had been overfried, similar to what I had found at Bawarchi, Navrattan Korma which was very tasty (although not desirable for anyone watching their cholesterol or desiring a lighter tasting noncream based dish), dal tadka which was mildly flavored, and saag channa which looked like the green puree offered at Chinnar but with a taste more similar to what I expect for this kind of dish. For some reason, the chick peas were missing from the saag. (I thought maybe they had sunk to the bottom of the tray holding the green puree, but alas, no chickpeas!

There were three chicken dishes - tandoori, tikka masala (whose sauce looked more tomato based and thicker than I have seen elsewhere - its appearance guided me to just try the tandoori chicken, along with the fact that I had gotten enough cream based dishes already), and some other chicken variety.

Desserts consisted ofl fresh orange slices (hooray for the presence of fresh fruit!), a mango flavored cream of wheat dish (do not recall the Hindi label) and a mango custard pudding. The cream of wheat dish which was warm was enjoyable although a bit on the heavy side, and the cooler mango custard pudding.was refreshing, although being of a thicker and heavier consistency than what I associate with a pudding.

Tea was available at the buffet table. It took me awhile to realize that the tea was, in fact, chai. It was very rich and full of flavor. (The container of the tea was labeled as "Tea," not "Chai" or "Masala Tea." My guess is that the owner wanted to present items in a way that most non-Indians could understand and be as appealing as possible.)

The day that I was at the restaurant, it was filled to near capacity, and a large group near me ordered off the menu and was brought some dishes that were audibly sizzling. I was amazed at how quickly their dish was prepared.

For folks who want a very comfortable restaurant setting with standard Indian restaurant fare of a north Indian style, Spice Kitchen is a nice addition . Current lunch buffet price is $9.99.

To summarize, what SP does best, at least for the lunch buffet experience is the ambience, customer care, rice, biryani, and naan. My preference regarding the food, itself, is for lighter quality in the main dishes as well as stronger flavor. Folks who are not familiar with Indian cuisine will not experience too exotic a treatment of dishes at SK's lunch buffet.
I'd recommend this place over some other Indian restaurants for them due to the mild nature of the seasonings, somewhat more similar to a Chinnar than to a Royal India, Taste of India, or Bawarchi.

-----
Taste of India
348 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901

  1. c
    Chefpaulo Feb 17, 2011 04:44 AM

    My initial review was also bleeped along with the ad that SK owners posted last month. I have been three times and have always been pleased. My first visit was as an only patron on a dreary December night right after they opened. The pakoras and chicken masala take-out were good enough for a return lunch visit but, again, to an almost empty house. Last week, however, I had to wait in line for a table with the lunchtime full house of about 70% Indians keeping staff scurrying to bus tables and fill the buffet trays. Except for the chicken vindaloo, I also found most a bit on the mild side and would have welcomed spicing kicked up a notch. The cooked carrot pudding and saffron yogurt for dessert were very good and welcome variations from the usual rice pudding and syrupy dough balls. For the price, a tasty lunch and welcome addition to the neighborhood.
    CP

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chefpaulo
      g
      givemecarbs Feb 17, 2011 10:56 AM

      Thanks CP! A family member is requesting Indian food tonight and I'm trying to decide between Cross Culture, Saffron and this place, as we are willing to drive to any of the three. They are all about equidistant. I saw that ad, but wonder why your review got zapped. Have you tried Pho and More yet? Been there about four times and they still have that new place enthusiasm vibe.

      1. re: givemecarbs
        c
        Chefpaulo Feb 17, 2011 12:59 PM

        Carbs, Rt. 363 takes you almost to the door. Do give it a try tonight. I've never been to Saffron and never heard of Cross Culture. As for my review, I guess the mods erased it when the SK ad was posted.This is probably a necessity or we'd be reading mostly billboards on this site.
        Pho and More. Is that in the Redner's plaza next to Assi? If so, I'll put it on the "to do' list.
        CP

        1. re: Chefpaulo
          g
          givemecarbs Feb 17, 2011 01:05 PM

          Thanks CP! Yeah that is the one. Went on the new year and people were popping champagne there!

          1. re: Chefpaulo
            g
            givemecarbs Feb 18, 2011 12:44 AM

            Went to Spice Kitchen and had a wonderful meal at a roomy table by the window. My friend got the chicken tikka masala and really liked it. He said it was more tomatoey than other places he's had it. The staff was very friendly and caring. I was happy with my shrimp biryani and my other friend got the goat. Can't wait to go back for the lunch buffet. We missed the place on the first try, it can be a little hard to find. It's in a shopping center right across from the walgreens. Thanks for the nudge CP!

            1. re: givemecarbs
              c
              Chefpaulo Feb 18, 2011 05:20 AM

              Carbs, Glad you enjoyed. And, yes, its not readily viewed from 363. Its next to the Trooper Acme where multiple incarnations of pizza parlor came and went. I hope SK sticks around a lot longer.
              CP

      2. Bacchus101 Feb 17, 2011 02:38 PM

        felafel boy , a very detailed review from one who obviously knows Indian food. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and comments. Should it ever be possible your comments on other locals Indian places would be of value. (Saffron, Cross Culture, Everest)

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bacchus101
          s
          ShakenNotStirred Feb 17, 2011 03:06 PM

          Not sure if he has reviewed the three places you mentioned, but FalafelBoy has written some great and detailed reviews of many of the Indian restaurants in the area. Click on his name and check them out!

          1. re: ShakenNotStirred
            Bacchus101 Feb 18, 2011 03:04 AM

            Thanks for the tip! SNS

          2. re: Bacchus101
            f
            FelafelBoy Feb 20, 2011 10:47 AM

            Bacchus - appreciate being introduced to alternatives outside my area. I explored these (Saffron, Cross Culture, and Everest) online and learned more of them.

            I only rarely go to Indian restaurants for dinner, opting out for the lunch buffets, as well as going to places closer to my residence other than occassional trips into the city where I must get my fix of saag paneer at Minar Palace.

            Saffron appears to have a nicely furnished restaurant. Weekend buffet I see. Interesting that its menu did not list any soups!

            Reviews of Cross Culture appeared mixed! Pictures of the inside reveal a very attractive place.

            Everest Grill has a very interesting menu, including dishes (Everest) from the region not just Indian. Nice that the lunch menu offers a thali selection. Interesting selection of Persian cuisine-inspired dishes.

            These three restaurants look like tasty alternatives to the other Indian restaurants we have posted messages for.

            For making your own thali, you can't beat lunch buffets!

            1. re: FelafelBoy
              Bacchus101 Feb 20, 2011 01:06 PM

              Thanks for your review. We have been to all and have done our own ranking. We have had some experience with Indian cooking here and abroad; thus we know what we like. But I am first to admit this is very personal, of course the intake of food is personal then , isn't it? I was/am interested in matching my humble opinions to those of one who obviously understand the cuisine. If and when you venture out to these places we look forward to your reviews. Thanks FB.

          3. cheesewit Feb 18, 2011 03:56 AM

            This is practically in walking distance to my home (I'm adjacent to Fairview Village). Although I've eaten in many, many restaurants in my life, I've always avoided Indian food. As a result, I'm quite unfamiliar with the foods and am hesitant. I've always said, "I need to go with someone who knows Indian food and could be my guide." I guess I need to bite the bullet and walk through the doors - this restaurant is close as is the Dosa Chat House.

            6 Replies
            1. re: cheesewit
              c
              Chefpaulo Feb 18, 2011 05:12 AM

              CW - I've been to both and SK is the much more comfortable, welcoming and mildly spiced of the two. Dosa Hut is for the spice-hardened who don't mind hot track lighting aimed in their faces and a half-hour between water refills.

              Go for the SK lunch buffet some day and get there early (11:30-ish) before the pharmatech crowd descends from Collegeville. Try a bit of everything and the couple who own SK will be glad to help with descriptions. I'm no expert by far but I like everything I've had there.
              CP

              1. re: cheesewit
                f
                FelafelBoy Feb 20, 2011 10:29 AM

                Cheesewit - if you have "avoided" Indian food due to your dislike of spices used in Indian cooking, even SK and Chinnar may not be to your liking. My first real experience of well-prepared Indian food involved judicious (as in not tame, but artful) use of spices which struck me as heavenly. If I had eaten food mildly flavored, I may have been left with a memory of a mediocre tasting meal.

                So, if you want to gradually expose yourself to Indian cuisine, for the area you live in, I'd recommend SK or Chinnar, not too far from the Gateway Shopping Center. My preference would be Chinnar due to its greater variety and quality for its lunch buffet. If you like the taste of the food at these places, and want to explore more flavor, I'd recommend you drive an extra 30 minutes and try places like Taste of India, and Royal India (in Malvern). Haven't been to Himalayan in Great Valley in some time (they also serve mild tasting dishes with a very large variety at its lunch buffet - main dishes are sometimes too heavily oiled or creamed, but sometimes just right). If you want to explore very different flavors from these restaurants, then try Bawarchi, but don't judge all Indian food from THAT experience.
                Years ago, my first taste of Indian food was at a restaurant in Manhattan and I didn't touch Indian food for about 7 years after that experience thinking that ALL Indian food was as distasteful as what I had there! Now, I can't believe there is BAD tasting Indian food!!

                -----
                Taste of India
                348 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901

                1. re: FelafelBoy
                  cheesewit Feb 20, 2011 11:38 AM

                  Thank you for your comments. I don't think my avoidance is due to a dislike of the spices used, it's mostly based on the fear of the unknown. I'm even uneasy saying that as I'm the first to try hole-in-the-wall roadfood types of places. When it comes to Indian, I had a very unsatisfactory meal many years ago and that turned me off. I went alone and probably ordered things that weren't that restaurant's best dishes. I couldn't tell you what I ordered, it was so long ago. I'll make it to Spice Kitchen and I'll re-read the reviews here. Thanks again.

                  1. re: cheesewit
                    g
                    givemecarbs Feb 20, 2011 11:56 AM

                    Cheesewit, I didn't pick this user name on a whim, my first time they had me at the naan. This was a loooong time ago in Philly at the Taj Mahal so I don't remember what dish I got but I don't think I was all that thrilled. But naan. And it really helped that I love rice, especially yellow rice.

                    1. re: givemecarbs
                      cheesewit Feb 21, 2011 02:42 AM

                      Givemecarbs, I hear you loud and clear. I love carbs (one look at me and you could guess that. Ugh.) and rice. Naan and dishes with rice will ease me into the world of curries and Indian specialties.
                      And I didn't pick my user name on a whim either - I am an Eagle Scout when it comes to cheesesteaks.

                      1. re: cheesewit
                        g
                        givemecarbs Feb 21, 2011 12:17 PM

                        Heh. When I was helping my one friend on his gluten free quest I could get around a lot of the restrictions in his special diet but we just had to give up cheesesteaks for awhile. /cry. This same friend was skittish about Indian food so I had him start with tandoori chicken which he loved. He got that every time. The turning point came I think when John came too and ordered a lamb dish which he tried and enjoyed.
                        He is off the gluten free quest for now but reports that his palate has changed and he loves all kinds of things he didn't care for before, like bell peppers of all things. He is now much more adventurous and likes every Indian dish he has tried thus far.

              2. i
                ilovesummer Feb 24, 2011 04:31 PM

                Well i really hate to be the one lone negative review....and it wasn't about the food....
                My husband and I had been waiting for weeks to try Spice Kitchen...and tonite was the nite...
                Arrived around 5:40 (Thursday nite) and when we entered the first little alcove...rug was in a pile with chair in the midde....We moved the chair back into postion and continued through the next door into the restaurant itself. We were passed by a young man walking toward us as we were walking in...
                Once in we were met with a pair of shoes in the middle of the floor of the narrow passageway...and when I looked to my right along the bench I was surprised to see a youngster (maybe 10ish) laying on the bench covered with a blanket looking chilled The man who had passed us on the way in...came back in...gave us a funny look and then tried to shake the child awake. All we could think was that it was a sick child maybe of the owners...
                But sadly, it was JUST too odd for us...and the restaurant was totally empty otherwise...so we turned and left....
                Saffron, though more than forty minutes further for us, will continue to be our destination of choice for Indian food...
                Again...didn't get to try the food...but the "strangeness factor" was too much for us to get past!!!

                7 Replies
                1. re: ilovesummer
                  Bacchus101 Feb 25, 2011 05:15 AM

                  Too bad, arriving early can sometimes present some fairly strange things including being subjected to hearing the previous nights adventures of the wait staff who choose to convene in a grouip in what should be a customer area., which had recently occured at an early side dinner at Harvest in Deco. 5:45 on a weekday evening in a strip mall does not qualify for the "too early" defense. Unfortunately I always extrapolate this type event to other undesirable behavior or lack of standards. Even more so after reading Bourdain's book.

                  1. re: ilovesummer
                    g
                    givemecarbs Feb 25, 2011 12:51 PM

                    I would have bailed too ilovesummer. No need for you to feel uncomfortable while you eat. Whenever I want that I just go to my friend John's house for dinner. :)

                    1. re: ilovesummer
                      g
                      gardens4me Feb 27, 2011 04:31 AM

                      Hmm, I have been wanting to try this place. Think I'll go at an early time and see what's up. Frequently, owners of these small places have to have their kids there with them and I don't have a problem with that at all. I'll report back.

                      1. re: gardens4me
                        i
                        ilovesummer Feb 27, 2011 04:56 AM

                        I agree, oft times small places have their children with them.....What put me off was this was AFTER 5:30 and shoes kicked off in middle of floor and someone fast asleep on the bench covered with a blanket as you first walk in?????? Not the first impression I want from ANY restaurant.......I always think that if that is happening where we can see it....WHAT is happening in the kitchen!!! Just my opinion....hopefully you have a better experience!

                        1. re: gardens4me
                          Bacchus101 Feb 27, 2011 07:15 AM

                          Sure hope you do not find the same thing. It would be most unlikely that you would. The point made here by ILS and in my previous comment referencing Bourdain's comments in his book is if this is allowed to happen in the front of the house what is allowed in the back? It is not a very auspicious first impression and is a non-starter for me just based on a standards issue. As far as kids in the business goes there are both regulatory issues as well as personal standards for behavior. Our friends in the business with kids are very careful so as not to created an appearance of a day care location. Based on comments regarding the food , I am sure they will do well unless others need to step over sleeping children, shoes and circle chairs and piled up rugs on their way to dine.

                          1. re: Bacchus101
                            r
                            rj2003 Apr 23, 2011 07:56 AM

                            I have been in this restaurant at least 10 times since it opened. It may have been a one off incident. After reading this post, I went there yesterday at 5:15 to see how things were...The door was closed..someone from inside saw me and opened the door for me. I asked if I should wait for 15 more minutes to open the restaurant but the waiter that I usually see there said, no I can order my take out... I have seen how the owner of this restaurant have improved the service since it has opened. I personally find this place one of the best Indian restaurant that I have been into in terms of service and food. Food has been excellent from day one and service has improved...I should say best at this time.

                            I am a frequent customer at SK and glad to see this place has open near my house. I live just 2 blocks from this place...Keep it up SK...

                            1. re: rj2003
                              Bacchus101 Apr 23, 2011 08:46 AM

                              Most pleased that you enjoy SK and took the opportunity as a first time poster to share your pleasure with us. We also love Indian food and may need to give it a try again based on your objective comments. thanks

                      2. p
                        percyn Sep 25, 2011 03:24 PM

                        Its been a while since someone provided an update, so thought I would say that the food and service have improved in the past few months.

                        What I like about Spice Kitchen compared to the other places is that the food is good, not overly oily like other restaurants and ... this is the key point... they serve fresh / heated Naan bread tableside. This is how they do it in India and it makes a big difference in your dining experience.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: percyn
                          g
                          givemecarbs Sep 25, 2011 11:46 PM

                          Thanks percyn! John said he enjoyed our recent dinner at Saffron at the time but now he seems to be fixating on the one piece of lamb korma that was all fat and he won't go back. I tried his dish and I didn't get any fat and the sauce was rich and delicious. His birthday is coming up, maybe we will go to spice kitchen.

                          1. re: givemecarbs
                            FrancisdeR Sep 26, 2011 04:14 AM

                            My wife and I went a few Fridays ago, after a review from The Artful Diner. We enjoyed it very much. One of the few places you can get fish at an Indian restaurants. Out here (West Chester / Exton) the best you'll do is shrimps. Nothing remarkable, just tasty Indian food, reasonably competent service, and a pleasant enough atmosphere.

                            1. re: FrancisdeR
                              g
                              givemecarbs Sep 26, 2011 07:11 PM

                              Spice Kitchen or Saffron? Went to spice kitchen last winter and enjoyed it once we found it. :)

                              1. re: givemecarbs
                                FrancisdeR Sep 27, 2011 08:34 AM

                                Spike Kitchen. Sorry, I should have specified.

                              2. re: FrancisdeR
                                p
                                percyn Sep 28, 2011 09:31 AM

                                Regarding the fish, this is one of the few restaurants where I have seen "Koliwada" fish on the menu outside of India. Have not tried it yet at Spice Kitchen, but it is on my mental list.

                                1. re: percyn
                                  g
                                  givemecarbs Sep 28, 2011 11:32 AM

                                  Get back to us when you do please percyn. I'm intrigued.

                                  1. re: givemecarbs
                                    r
                                    rj2003 Jan 30, 2012 06:35 PM

                                    OMG.. I just came back from my few weeks overseas trip. SK has completely new look. I am amazed to see the new decor. SK has been my favorite place for Indian food since they opened however more I visit this place, I find it interesting. I have taken a screenshot of their interior design from their website SpiceKitchenOnline.com. There is a link for photo gallery on the site but it doesn't seems to work.. Also they have new wait staff. Extremely professional and they take order on iPad and waiters shows picture of each item you order. Very good addition on the technology side and best food in the area. Keep it up SK.

                                     
                                    1. re: rj2003
                                      f
                                      FelafelBoy Apr 24, 2012 09:13 PM

                                      I didn't believe SK had changed to the extent you posted. But I heard another person remark positively on SK and how it had a different chef and management. That second opinion reinforced yours and motivated me to give SK another chance. I did learn that the chef had changed, not the management.

                                      First, my overall impression of the different experience from last visit -
                                      very pleased. Overall, the food quality was better than average, the service was very attentive (although due to the crowd, a bit delayed, especially with the check), variety of food, although not as extensive as TOI, Bawarchi, or Chinnar, diverse and satisfying, flavor (spicyness) very appealing, and freshness of food was better than average.

                                      I would compare the style and flavor of food to be that between south Indian and north Indian, with a strong bias toward south Indian. The spice flavor is decidedly different from that found at TOI. Also, there is much less cream in the sauces. If I had not had the chicken tikka masala (I went for the lunch buffet), and the strawberry custard, I would have left with a lightness and no sinus congestion!

                                      The buffet I was at included a surprise to me - sambar - which was VERY good (and different from what Bawarchi does) and giant-sized
                                      idlis. Fresh naan was brought to the table - the choice on this day was plain or garlic. I chose garlic and it was among the best I have had at this kind of a buffet (the other great naan was had at Royal India in Malvern). It was freshly made, warm, and stayed moist throughout my meal. The pakoras were very good, and although I try to stay away from such deep fried food, I indulged. The coating was pretty thick around the inside filling/vegetable, and was the only dish I had among everything at the buffet's offerings that bordered on being "oily," though I would not call the coating excessively oily. (Chinnar does a good job at pakoras that are not oily at all. Bawachi's pakoras, along with some of its other fried vegetarian dishes, like its bhindi dish, are oily.).

                                      I don't recall the name of the kind of dal served at the buffeton this day.. It almost looked like dal makhani, but its look was more of a creamy brown lentil kind - though it wasn't masoor dal. It had a very nice flavor. The sambar, idli, dal, and naan, were satisfying in themselves alone, to override anything else that followed that may have been less satisfying..

                                      The buffet included a small salad bar that consisted of iceberg lettuce tomatoes, finely cut carrots, and red onions. Raita and chutneys were very tame. TOI uses sour cream in its raita to make it taste richer and be thicker.

                                      The buffet included four different vegetarian entrees - the dal, channa masala, an okra dish (bhindi ... piazza), and a vegetable paneer dish(Kadahi Paneer I think - according to the menu, this dish contained certain vegetables that were in addition to those listed on the menu for this dish, though I may be incorrect in my memory). Two of these dishes were the only significantly subpar foods I had on this day, at least to my taste and preferences. The sauce in the chana masala was very thin, and the dish impressed me as being little more than chick peas in a thin sauce. I don't remember having such an unadorned chana masala at any other Indian restaurant I have been to. The chana masala at TOI, Bawarchi, Chinnar, and Royal India all make a more interesting and satisfying chana masala. For my taste, the paneer dish was in a sauce that was too sweet and may have had a small tinge of vinegar, both of which made the dish shifting back and forth between pleasant and unpleasant, although I did like the freshness of the vegetables in it.

                                      There was no tandoori chicken at the buffet. The chicken dishes consisted of chicken biryani and tikka masala (chicken pieces were tender). There was also another kind of chicken appetizer type dish next to the pakoras. The chicken tasted and looked like dark meat chicken.
                                      The tikka masala was pleasant - not as rich as you would get at TOI.
                                      I passed on the goat dish.

                                      Desserts consisted of freshly cut orange slices, galub jamun, and strawberry custard. The custard appeared to have canned fruit cocktail in it, which surprisingly complimented the custard very well.

                                      The main entree area featured lemon rice which included nuts. (Bawarchi makes a vey interesting version of this kind of rice - this was good, although not as elaborate as Bawarchi's version.) Off to the side next to the desserts was a small tray of basmati rice that was displayed in a matter that appeared to present it as an afterthought. The basmati rice was displayed not in a tray like the lemon rice but on foil in a smaller area that impressed me as just being odd. I had wondered prior to seeing that area why basmati rice wasn't offered. I would think that unless the restaurant patron had viewed the entire buffet area, he/she would have assumed lemon rice was the only choice to go with the entrees.

                                      The server (American) was very extraverted, engaging, and attentive.
                                      The owners presented a pleasant demeanor while they helped to keep the place humming.

                                      I did not get the decor. It consisted of the white curtains hanging everywhere as shown in the picture provided by the previous post by
                                      rj2003. Patrons whose groups consist of two or fewer people are seated off to the side in a fairly secluded and intimate space bordered by a wall that extends up about four feet, but still allowing them to feel a part of the restaurant. It was an odd feeling being secluded away, but on the other hand, it allows a person dining alone or part of a two member group to have more privacy while eating. (The small side area helps to create the illusion of more space and complexity in the restaurant, whose space is quite different from that of the other Indian restaurants. Due to the space of the restaurant being fairly small, any group that is overly loud can be easily heard by others. On the day I was there, although it was filled to near capacity, the background noise was manageable except for two men who laughed repeatedly at a level with abandonment more appropriate for a bar setting.

                                      Upbeat pleasant Indian music was played in the background.

                                      On the way out, I was greeted with an "opinion" card to fill out, with the chance of winning a free lunch. I don't recall any other Indian restaurant in the area, in all the years I have eaten there, ever displaying an interest in customers in this way. I remember from years ago, the owner's wife greeting me in a friendly way to return and they would be happy to see me.

                                      With the exception of the two dishes previously mentioned not up to my preference for taste and consistency, almost everything else I experienced will motivate me to return and strongly recommend SK as one of the better Indian restaurants in this area.

                                      Overall, the buffet makes up in quality and service with the slighly smaller offerings (no mango lassi included with the buffet) one would find at the buffet of some of the other local Indian restaurants (Chinnar, TOI, Bawarchi, Royal India). Fewer desserts, but the delicious sambar and freshly made naan, Idli, and other tasty vegetarian dishes. If you want fresh-tasting mild-tasting and flavorful Indian food in a pleasant environment (served by upbeat folks), SK will satisfy.

                                      With the kind of food quality offered, this area should be able to support a larger SK. (on the day I was there, with the large crowd, the staff had to hussle to keep up with check dispensing and customer's needs). I would guess that an SK in the Devon/Wayne area near the other Indian restaurants would do very well. Glad that we have SK in the Trooper area. I hope this restaurant thrives and expands its buffet offerings.

                                      1. re: FelafelBoy
                                        f
                                        FelafelBoy Apr 30, 2012 09:49 PM

                                        Note that the restaurant's main phone number area code 610 exchange 910 - ....
                                        is not located in the Trooper, PA area as is the restaurant - it is for an Avondale, PA. location. For those folks whose phone plan is zone-based, the charge for the call could be other than a "local" call. If you have local regional calling and are calling in an area close to Trooper to this restaurant, you will be charged for a long distance call, believe it or not!!

                          2. k
                            Kater May 4, 2012 03:23 PM

                            I just gave them a second try and once again was so disappointed. The food is just off. They put some sort of old sliced boneless chicken breast in the makhani and I would swear that the makhani sauce was from a jar. Korma was bland and there was no almond flavor and the bread was rubbery. Just not good at all and I want to support them!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Kater
                              f
                              FelafelBoy May 5, 2012 06:27 PM

                              Kater, rubbery bread is inexcusable, yes? I have had that experience repeatingly at one of the other Indian restaurants. Recently, I had to stop eating the piece of naan at Taste of India as I found that I was losing the battle of it dissolving in my mouth. The naan there is normally edible if you get it when it is first put out although not in the league of what you get at RI and SK. . The naan I had at Spice Kitchen as I posted previously, rivaled the tender naan I had at Royal India years ago - crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, and dissolving quickly in the mouth. I wonder if you got dried out naan. At the lunch buffet, the naan was brought to each table, freshly made.
                              If you believe the sauce in the makhani was from a jar, I would have told them you wanted to duplicate the sauce on your own and wondered what brand of canned sauce they used - or ask in a way that might suggest a food allergy to prompt them to tell you whether the sauce was canned or fresh. What I was picking up on one of the sauces was an unpleasant aftertaste of vinegar and sugar that didn't contribute to the dish - something as you said, you might expect from a canned sauce.
                              It wouldn't be surprising if these restaurants reused some items from the previous day since they put out so much in the trays for the buffets and at the end of the day there is probably a considerable amount of food left. When I used to go to the lunch buffet at Royal India years ago, they frequently never replenished the trays of food past a certain time - that reassured me that they were not reusing food, although it annoyed me significantly that the trays would run out of food sometimes just past 12:30. Maybe things are different now. Taste of India normally has its trays of food well-stocked for the lunch buffet, including their many trays of desserts.
                              The time I was at Spice Kitchen, there was no tandoori chicken, and it seemed that whatever cutup pieces of chicken there were, were mixed in with other dishes. I viewed the chicken breast pieces as a healthier and more expensive part of the chicken. (marinades seem to partner better with the fattier portions of the chicken)
                              The sauces in the dishes I had at Spice Kitchen did not impress me other than the dal. The spice mixture Bawarchi uses for its chana masala and korma dishes appealed to me more, and except for the heaviness of the sauces in most of the Taste of India dishes, the spice mixture they use appeals to me much more. Last two visits at the lunch buffet at Taste of India were at times that the restaurant was selecting alot of starchy dishes as a replacement for green and healthier vegetable dishes. I like potatoes and noodles, but they featured at least four dishes that included as its primary food potatoes or noodles. Even one of the vegetable medley dishes seemed to be mostly sauce, onions, and carrots with a few small green pepper pieces tossed in. On that day, I had to rely on the green salad, chana masala, and dal for my vegetarian selections. At Spice Kitchen, Bawarchi, and Chinnar, I have experienced fewer visits involving such an imbalance of dish selection.

                              1. re: FelafelBoy
                                f
                                FelafelBoy Jul 15, 2012 10:03 PM

                                I think I know what the sauce "problem" is - on a recent trip to SK, I enjoyed most of the lunch buffet items, but did not care for the sauce in which some of the dishes were cooked in (such as the chicken tikka masala and the jalferezi).
                                The jalferezi sauce didn't have the depth of flavor I prefer - I can't place what spices were missing from the sauce that made it taste "off" to me. The sauce in the chicken tikka masala had a more bitter and sharp taste than I have had elsewhere. It was not a pleasant flavor.

                                The "off-flavor" in these dishes was strange given that the flavor in all the other dishes were pleasing - great dal, sambar, and chutneys. Unlike most ofher Indian restaurants I have been to, the fried coating on the pakora was not oily or greasy in the least.

                                One of the appetizers in the buffet - it was some sort of a chicken dish had an overly spicy pepper in its mix. It was not something that I would care to have again.

                                Note that there is only one main rice dish in the buffet - a tasty lemon rice type dish almost identical to what is served at Bawarchi. The other rice dish is displayed by the desserts with a label that says it is made with milk. It is displayed in a small portion size on aluminum foil. I can only guess that it is meant to be a dessert type dish. One of the desserts was a very attractive whipped cream dish (a brulee) - thoughtful variety of desserts - a pastry (galub jamun), two different kinds of fresh fruits, and the gourmet cream dish.

                                As before, the garlic naan, brought fresh to the table was outstanding.

                                Very attentive service was given by the server who was new and who was gently guided by the more veteran server. Mid-week, the restaurant was completely filled.

                                1. re: FelafelBoy
                                  k
                                  Kater Jul 18, 2012 07:32 PM

                                  I really appreciate your reviews of local Indian restaurants. Do you ever go to Persis near George's music in North Wales? We went recently for lunch and I thought it was fantastic. The buffet has fewer offerings than other restaurants but the quality was high and all the dishes were very flavorful. They seemed a lot less greasy that what one commonly finds on Indian buffets. Also they bring you your own basket of bread. I actually did not care for the particular type of bread they serve (it was very soft and puffy) but it was warm and i liked the way they serve it. Also they offered a chicken biryani and an vegetarian biryani and both were delicious.

                                  1. re: Kater
                                    f
                                    FelafelBoy Jul 20, 2012 10:53 PM

                                    Kater - thanks for informing me of Persis in N. Wales. I hadn't heard of this restaurant and I always like to know of such restaurants that offer a lunch buffet, particularly with the kind of quality you described. It is helpful to be informed as you did of some specifics of the buffet, i.e. fewer selections in the buffet than other restaurants. Last time I visited Devi in Exton, I noticed a smaller selection of vegetarian dishes than I have had at other restaurants (such as at Chinnar), but its quality made up for the smaller selection (though its desert selection was subpar - maybe it has improved and expanded since the last time I have been there). You know, for these kinds of buffets, all I need are two decent main dishes, primarily vegetarian, to be contented! Every so often, I walk into a restaurant and see that there is only one dish that is appealing (too many starchy other dishes), which tells me that the cook/manager was not thoughtful with balancing the selection - there should always always be at least one green vegetable dish!! Or at least a healthy vegetable dish, such as one with cauliflower. I have not found any restaurants that make outstanding chicken biryani (that includes Bawarchi, although some people like their version very much). I often find the chicken pieces in the biryani full of bones and the rice flavored with an unsensational chicken fat flavor. (Bawarchi's dishes tend to be lower fat, but I found its chicken biryani lacking exciting flavor.) On the contrary, almost all the vegetarian biryani's have a more pleasant, lighter, and flavorful taste to my palate. Speaking of chicken, I forgot to mention, that the treatment of tandoori chicken at Spice Ktichen was a puzzlement to me. The tandoori chicken was displayed on the buffet table on a separate tray, having been cut up into small pieces, as though the thigh or a similar auxiliary part of the chicken had been chopped up into the smallest size possible. The number of pieces on the tray was minimal which seemed strange given the number of people in the restaurant. The piece I put on my plate was consisted mostly of bone, with a small amount of meat on a hidden side, enouhg for no more than one large forkful of meat. The flavor was nothing like what I had associated with the marinade I have associated with tandoori chicken I have had at other restaurants, even those that are not doing North Indian cooking. The flavor of the chicken that had been baked in reminded me more of tamarind. I did not detect any use of yogurt in its preparation. Even the color was very brown, not reddish like what is offered at Taste of India. The flavor was mostly salty and a bit on the sour side which is what made me think of tamarind. The chicken lacked the crispness and moistness I associate wsith tandoori chicken. It could have been baked in a normal oven for all I know. The flavor of the tandoori chicken at Taste of India tastes like it has been marinated in yogurt, red chili powder and other spices for hours and then baked at a high temperature in a tandoori oven. I have yet to have a chicken dish at Spice Kitchen that I would like to have repeats on. I have gotten to the point of giving up on their chicken dishes and simply enjoying their vegetarian dishes. Unfortunately, in the western suburbs, with the exception of Deva, the only Indian restaurants that I am aware of that change their dal daily are Bawarchi and Spice Kitchen. For vegetarians and semi-vegetarians like me, getting a tasty dal at the buffet is an important element of the Indian cuisine experience. For some reason, many of these restaurants think that dal makhani is the favorite dal that will appeal to westerners. I have seen patrons bypass delicious soup, sambar, and dal at many of these restaurants, going for the more "familiar" dishes. There is an Indian cooking tv show on during the weekend featuring healthy south Indian cooking, and it puzzles me why these restaurants don't offer some of these dishes, even as the "odd dish of the day!" Last week, I saw the show host do Adai and Upuma (not the plain kind often served at Taste of India, but made with coconut flakes, various vegetables, urad dal, and cashews). Only Bawarchi has offered some "lesser known (to those who frequent North Indian-based cuisine restaurants) dishes (like baby eggplant and methi dal). The soft bread that was brought to you, do you whether it was naan? Could have been a bhaturi or a puri. To make me happy, all I need at a buffet is a nice dal (preferably tadka tor/yellow dal) and a green vegetable dish (squash/spinach/okra)) with some good rice and a nice side of salad and raita. I love it when there is a tasty soup and/or dal, which is why Taste of India seldom disappoints except when they go overboard occassionally with flour/starchy dishes in the buffet to the exclusion of vegetable dishes. One of the most enjoyable restaurants for buffets and "authentic" Indian cooking (at least Bengali-style) was Govinda's on South street on the 500 block before the place burned down years ago. Now, the new Govinda's closer to 15th street near Broad does more gourmet vegetarian with more vegetarian treatment of "Americanized" dishes. The previous Govinda's buffet featured more traditional Indian-type dishes, and was strictly vegetarian (as is the current Govinda's). I'd find dishes there not found at other Indian restaurants. I don't think many Indian restaurants (other than south Indian) use asofoetida as a flavoring element in their cooking. Next time I go up to N. Wales around lunchtime, I will make an effort to visit Persis. I need to revisit Aman's, too!! Is it still true that in the Queens area you can get a lunch buffet for under $8? Some restaurants out here have raised their prices and the buffets are now near the $11 range (not including a drink, like a lassi) if not more (Bawarchi) during the week. Still a good value - a friend and I had dinner at an Indian restaurant the other night and excluding drinks, the meal (for pretty much the same kinds of dishes I would get at a buffet) came to over $50! I had an item or two I normally don't get at the buffet (kulfi), but it reminded me what better value it is to have the "main meal" at the lunch buffet, to keep prices in the more manageable area! It would be interesting to get updates on other restaurants in the Malvern and Exton area, like Royal India, Himalayan, Devi, and Desi Village, to hear of their current offerings and quality . I had given up on HImalayan after having tasted too many oily and dishes made with too much concentration of cream (too bad because they offered a great variety of foods and welcoming service) and lost the interesting restaurant down the road from them in Frazer, Gateway to India, who had great squash soup, the most beautiful display of dishes in its buffet, and occassionally interesting unusual dishes made with a personalized touch (dosas and subji), but alas, without advertising, few people visited the place. So out in that area, it seems like Himalayan Royal India, and Devi are it. With all the steak houses in King of Prussia, I'd think a vegetarian only restaurant would be in demand.

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