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Oct 24, 2011 09:05 PM
Discussion

Indian in Seattle?

I am looking at a potential relocation to Seattle and I'm wondering about Indian restaurants and markets in Seattle. I cook a lot of Indian and Sri Lankan food, so I'm looking for a good Indian market. Is there one in Seattle?

As for restaurants, my tastes go quite a bit beyond your typical Chicken Tikka Masala and Mutter Paneer. I'm actually not at all interested in North Indian food (if you're eating CTM or Mutter Paneer with garlic naan and a mango lassi, you might as well just get the microwave kind you get at the grocery store as far as I'm concerned). I'm really hoping for a good South Indian place (preferably non-veg), and ideally a Keralan, Hyderabadi and/or Tamil place. I'm sure there's no Sri Lankan there - it's rare to find that anywhere outside of NYC and Toronto - but that would be nice.

So does anyone know what kind of good, authentic Indian stuff there is in Seattle?

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  1. If you find such a place, let me know.

    12 Replies
    1. re: PAO

      You don't think Mayuri fits the bill?

      1. re: GreenYoshi

        I've never actually been to the restaurant. We go to the bakery/chaat place frequently.

        1. re: PAO

          This Mayuri has a chaat place? That sounds promising. Is it prepared chaat (with chutneys, etc) or just the dried snack items?

          1. re: MaddoxBT

            Prepared chaat. For example, papadi chaat, sev puri, bel puri, etc. And things like daal and chapati, bhatura, etc. And an extensive Indian sweets selection as well as dried snack items. Bakery is not anything to write home about but the Indian sweets are very good and some of the chaat items too. They also have an Indo Chinese menu. I think you can buy fresh chapati there--not sure whether on a daily basis or not. This place is in the same strip mall as Mayuri grocery, where you can get all your Indian groceries, produce, meats, etc. They do NOT serve dosas or iddli or anything like that. Here's the link:

            http://mayurifamily.com/chat.php

            1. re: PAO

              Nice. So I'd still be able to cook and get short eats when the mood strikes me.

              I take it the Indian population in Seattle is small? Even with Microsoft?

              1. re: MaddoxBT

                As I'm sure you know, Seattle proper and Microsoft (Redmond) are separated by Lake Washington, and a lot of people tend to stay on their side of the lake. I feel like I've heard about some good Indian places on the Eastside (near MS) but haven't ventured over. In the city there are the usual variety of cheap Indian places around the University of Washington, which seem good enough to people who don't really know better (like me). But if anyone does have an amazing recommendation worth the drive I will want to try it. The East Asian population is much larger here than the South Asian.

                1. re: babette feasts

                  Indian in Seattle is pretty generally worse when compared to the eastside. What's the best on the westside these days? Taste of India? Seems like every place just serves individually plated lunch buffet fare for dinner.

                  -----
                  Taste of India
                  5517 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

                  1. re: HungWeiLo

                    I stand strong on Kabob House being the best. They are definitely Pakistani, so their execution on some of the traditional Indian style cuisine is less than perfect, however they make everything fresh, which means it does sometimes take a little while, and when you do order their Pakistani dishes, they are superlatively good.

                    1. re: dagoose

                      Agreed. It's the only place my Pakistani brother-in-law ever wants to eat at if we go for "Indian" food. Not that being from the country necessarily gives him good taste, but I think it gets some points for authenticity if it reminds him so much of his family's cook's cooking.

                      1. re: dagoose

                        This is place on 80th & Greenwood? That may be the best on the Westside; some things at Bengal Tiger were good when I was there, but that was years ago now.

                        Re: Pakistani, I really enjoy Naan'n'Curry in Renton, and even better, Kebab Palace in Redmond. The biryani there is a knockout.

            2. re: PAO

              Right, I'm talking about the bakery/grocery/chaat place.
              You don't think that's solid as an Indian market?

              1. re: GreenYoshi

                It's a good Indian grocery, yes, although I still have to go to Vancouver to find dal badi.

        2. The short answer is to consider finding work in Vancouver, B.C. where your selection is bound to be decent. Indian is NOT Seattle's strength, and certainly not south Indian.

          6 Replies
          1. re: twinsue

            We're going to be moving for my wife's job, and Seattle is one possible option. Canada is a great place to visit (we visit a few times per month right now), and I have a lot of friends there, but I could never live there.

            1. re: MaddoxBT

              I tend to do my Indian shopping at Mayuri and Apna Bazaar, both of which are located along the Redmond/Bellevue border.

              I would agree with some of the other respondents who say that offerings on the Eastside include those that are different, spicier, more regional (and therefore in my view superior) than what is availabe in Seattle proper. I think that the best dishes at these places are often overlooked because the management promote so heavily toward getting non-Indians to come in for lunch buffet (including the predictable Northern/punjabi items) and are judged accordingly.

              Before deferring to Vancouver completely, I would say that several Hyderbadi and Tamil dishes are offered at Spice Route, which is located adjacent to Apna Bazaar; I recommend the items marked "(Specialty)" on the dinner menu, especially the Chettinad dishes. Dosai and uttapam are also served, and I think they do a good job with them (but not so good as my favorite places from the NYC area). On my last visit to Spice Route they offered a hopper dish and another Sri Lankan dish as specials.

              Mayuri's chaat are decent, but I think of them as a further notch or two below what one can get in larger US Indian population centers. There is a new place in that vicinity called "Chaat Corner" or something similar that shows positive signs but I have not visited yet.

              Re: Keralan there used to be a good place called "Curry Leaf" in Factoria that has since either closed or changed to a more generic buffet/Northern place. I am told that Keralan food is also featured at Chili's Deli and Mart in the U District, and at a commonly owned restaurant in Bellevue called Sadya Palace. I haven't been to either yet, but I intend to.

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              Spice Route
              2241 148th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98007

              1. re: equinoise

                There is a place in Renton that sells chaat, I can't remember the name? Sri Lankan, I don't know of anything closer than Vancouver, but they serve some Kerala dishes at Chilis in the U District. For markets, Apna Bazaar in Bothell or on the east side, or the Pakistani Indian market at 125th and roosevelt for smaller selection closer to the city.

                1. re: dagoose

                  Thank you both!

                  Wow, I'm very impressed with the depth of knowledge here. Detroit has some really good regional Indian places, but the people here can't tell the difference between Indian and Lebanese, much less regional Indian.

                  I'm excited about the place that sometimes serves hoppers. I have to make them myself or drive 4hrs to Toronto to get them right now.

                  1. re: MaddoxBT

                    equinoise and dagoose did a great round up of what we've found as well.
                    There is a place in Renton called Naan -N- Curry that probably isn't what you are looking for - but they do grind their spices fresh and the flavors pop a bit more than the typical curry houses. I think they are more Pakistani cuisine.
                    We make the trek to Spice Route most of the time, but have enjoyed Mayuri as well.

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                    Spice Route
                    2241 148th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98007

              2. re: MaddoxBT

                Trust me, if anyone moves to Vancouver they won't be able to afford eating out if they buy a home here:

                http://www.vancouversun.com/business/...

                Back on topic ..... I'm quite familiar with UW district (or was, between '99 and '06) and I always liked Cedars @ NE 50th & Brooklyn behind the Safeway to be very decent. And all-you-can-drink chai too :-)

            2. When I said "Seattle", I was basically referring to the metro area. I live in Metro Detroit right now, and while there are four Indian restaurants within a three mile radius, my go-to Indian place is 35 miles away. According to my check-ins, I've been there 54 times in the last year and a half. So I'm more than willing to drive a ways to get good Indian food.

              Side question - does the floating bridge move with the motion of the water? I've never seen or been on one before.

              7 Replies
              1. re: MaddoxBT

                re: the floating bridge moving: Not really. Only when the wind and water really get moving, during storms. For the most part, movement is imperceptible.

                1. re: dagoose

                  When the wind gets high and it's raining, waves can crash over the side of the smaller of the two bridges! Exciting when you're riding on a big bus (my commute mode of transport), terrifying in a small car.

                  1. re: MaddoxBT

                    The floating bridge is really floating - on pontoons.
                    This does not cause insane conflicts with tides or ocean waves, as freshwater Lake Washington is isolated from saltwater Puget Sound by the Chittenden locks, but the lake is made to rise and fall about two feet seasonally, according to the needs of Salmon spawning grounds and other considerations. From day to day, or hour to hour, movement of the lake is accommodated by ordinary bridge engineering ('ordinary' floating bridge engineering, of course). Ordinary bridges are engineered to go with the flow of winds (except for galloping Gerty, of course) and whatever assaults are presented by the waters they span. This is just all about why engineering is cool.

                    1. re: MaddoxBT

                      If you move to Seattle area, you really don't want to be crossing one of the floating bridges as part of your commute.
                      Some storm pics here but the main reason to avoid them is due to traffic.
                      http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR52...

                      Bellevue/Redmond area has a fairly large Indian population. Think Microsoft employees.

                      1. re: zippyh

                        I appreciate the heads up on that. It's definitely something to consider, and probably something we wouldn't have thought of.

                        1. re: MaddoxBT

                          I have been living in Kirkland (part of the so called Eastside with Bellevue and Redmond, some people add more cities to the list) for 14 years. Storms (very rare here) or bad weather is never a real issue for the bridges, which very rarely close. I actually do enjoy driving on the bridge those rare times when the waves splash over :-)

                          The real, atrocious problem, is traffic. You wouldn't want to commute over the bridges at rush hour twice a day. Look at the WSDOT traffic website (with real time traffic monitored with sensors under the roadway), and pay attention to how bad it is.

                          Things are going to change with the tolling of 520. If the change is going to be net positive, is anyone's guess (I wouldn't mind paying a few dollars to save 40 minutes stuck in traffic)

                          To get back to food, the best part is that traffic at night is not bad, so I can live in Kirkland, work on the Eastside, and go to Seattle for the restaurants you don't find on this side of the puddle.

                          The food scene (and the availability of international ingredients) has made a quantum leap in the last 10 years or so. Mexican is still weak (but not as desperate as it was), and we are never more than a couple of hours drive from Vancouver/Richmond for outstanding Asian (not that Asian is bad here, but Vancouver has things you won't find here)

                    2. Also in the University district is Pam's Kitchen - Trinidadian. They have roti and curries that I think may be similar to Sri Lankan cuisine. But I don't know from Sri Lankan to confirm that.

                      It's very close to Chili's Deli & Mart - last time I went there it still felt more like a quickie mart than a restaurant, but you can sit down to eat. The sambar vada had me gasping for air (and something to cool me off afterwards!) That was at least a year and a half ago.

                      -----
                      Pam's Kitchen
                      500 Univ Way, Seattle, WA 98101

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tsquare

                        Trini and Sri Lankan are not similar at all. The both have some Indian roots, but they're very different. Trini food is basically a mix of West African and Indian with Caribbean ingredients. Sri Lankan is a very intense, pungent, spicy cuisine with strong Indian and Maldivian influences with some far subtler Dutch and Portuguese influences.

                        They're both very good, and I'm happy to learn that there is at least one Caribbean restaurant in the area. I appreciate the heads up, because I wouldn't have thought to look for it.

                        Right now, I'm four hours from the nearest Sri Lankan restaurant. It'd be nice to have one nearby, or at least a Sri Lankan market, but I can make do with an Indian market. My Sri Lankan food is pretty damned good, I don't mean to brag, so I can satisfy myself by cooking it. But having a good Indian restaurant is pretty important because I don't always feel like cooking. It's nice to know that Seattle isn't a black hole for Indian food like my other potential destinations.

                      2. There's a new South Indian restaurant called Udupi cafe in the same strip mall as Spice Route and Apna Bazar store. Their dosas and thali offerings are decent, I wouldn't order anything else though. But everything is a bit bland. Wish they wouldn't hold back so much.

                        I haven't been to Chili's Deli in more than a year. Their food was great when they first started and no one knew that there were a few tables in the back of the convenience store. Now their prices have gone up, and their service and food quality have gone down. I'd love to hear from anyone who's been there recently.

                        I second the Pam's Kitchen reco. Pam came out to talk to our table the last time I was there. We had chicken roti, duck roti and jerk chicken. The curries were all fantastic and well balanced spice wise. There was lots of flavor and the meat was tender. The rotis were good too.

                        You'll definitely be able to find most Indian ingredients in the Seattle area, especially Bellevue. It is harder in the Seattle metro area. There are a couple of small stores (55th and Ave in U district) but they usually have older stock.

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                        Spice Route
                        2241 148th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98007

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: veenaprasad

                          Meant to say that the dosas at Udupi Cafe are marginally better than at Spice Route.

                          Also, I haven't had much luck finding Sri Lankan ingredients like pandan leaves in the area. But I haven't tried very hard either.

                          -----
                          Spice Route
                          2241 148th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98007

                          1. re: veenaprasad

                            Pandan leaves are pretty common in Filipino places, I think. I don't know what they are, but I associate them with Filipino food.

                            1. re: tsquare

                              I associate pandan leaf with Thai food, especially desserts. I'm not sure about actual leaves, but I know I've seen pandan flavoring or extract at places like H Mart.

                            2. re: veenaprasad

                              I went to Udupi Cafe/Chaat Corner and got a tiki chaat and two samosas to go. Much better than Mayuri: more heat, more sour, more flavor. Recommended.

                              1. re: veenaprasad

                                I went back to Udupi Cafe and tried a Chettinad-style masala dosa. It was large, about 2 feet in diameter, and was served with two chutneys and sambar. I thought it was pretty good, but I don't think was materially better than the smaller similarly styled dosa at Spice Route, IIRC. I would tend to agree with veenaprasad that the masala potato filling seemed missing some, well, "masala." I have an issue with paying $10 bucks for something that is sold for half of that at my favorite place in NJ. But I digress.

                                1. re: equinoise

                                  I found a better alternative to Udupi Cafe that is in close proximity. In the back of the Indian grocery called Swagath there is a chaat/thali cafeteria. Very basic for sure, but the mysore masala dosa was better in taste than Udupi (albeit somewhat smaller); the peanut and coconut chutneys were decent and the sambar had real heat. Cheap deal at $5.49 plus tax (cash discount)

                                  The place is peppered with poor reviews on Yelp, many of which mention messiness and impoliteness, but I guess I sort of expect that with this genre and price range. http://www.yelp.com/biz/swagath-food-...

                                  1. re: equinoise

                                    I checked out a spot off NE 24th St. called Chaat N' Roll. This is basically a vegetarian Indian street food purveyor that looks like a fast food counter and sells chaat, kathi rolls, bread sandwiches known as pav, and some other combos. I tried the HARIYAALI KATHI ROLL which looks like a paratha-wrapped burrito, stuffed with cooked spinach/other vegetables, potatoes, mint chutney, tamarind sauce. The flavors were very bright and spicy, but the texture was not for me. I would probably try the PAV BHAAJI next time, which I understand to be a classic Mumbai street food, and I have not seen that available at other veg./chaat places that I have visited here. One thing I would not recommend is the masala Thums Up, an Indian cola mixed with spices and herbs. It don't know if it was caused by some kind of chemical reaction, but the drink had a sharp sulfuric note that was just wrong.

                                    1. re: equinoise

                                      That may have been black salt, which is used by many regions in India - it's very sulfurous. I use it (in moderation) when I make Punjabi raita and a few other dishes. I like it when in proper proportion to other spices; a light hand is key.

                                      Or maybe it wasn't...take my post with a grain of salt!