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Chola Nad Chapel Hill

  • r

It's moving in to the space where Cypress was, I saw the makeshift sign from the bus. Anyone know about this place? Chola definitely sounds Indian to me; hope so:)

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  1. Interesting. I saw a group entering the building last Thursday while I was waiting for the bus across the street, and was wondering what was going on...

    And chance the sign said Nadu instead of Nad? Chola Nadu would definitely be Indian.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mpjmph

      I thought I saw something (also from a moving bus) with that name but with a sub-title that included "...Italian concept". I got hung up on the use of "concept" and could be butchering the rest of it.

    2. I've seen the sign too, but only while driving by...not enough to see the specifics. My first thought was Indian, followed by a thought we might be getting saturated with Indian. (side note - Rory, we always hit the same spots on the same nights. I was at Kitchen on Saturday)

      4 Replies
      1. re: wintersummer

        Italian that could be good, right now I go to International Pizza for my red sauce fix. Wintersummer that is too much, fyi I'm going to Elaines for thanksgiving;-)

        1. re: Rory

          I've never heard of International Pizza....where is it? I know Thanksgiving at Elaines is going to be great. It's one of my favorite places.

          1. re: wintersummer

            bother, meant Italian Pizzeria III on Franklin St, the family is from Naples and they make their own sauce, I've had the marsala and cacciotore & recommend it. The pasta won't be al dente.....super about Elaine's, never been.

            Italian Pizzeria III
            508 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

            1. re: Rory

              Elaine's is pretty wonderful, most of the time. I hope you have a wonderful T-giving. Won't soon forget how happy Lulu and I were to run into you last year at Carolina Inn. Will be interested to hear how Elaine's t-giving is.

      2. Geez, that's 4 Indian joints within a couple of hundred feet of each other!

        I've never heard of dosas with fish or chicken gravy...and I'm Indian.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbqme

          bbqme; It's the new fusion dosa & I've never had one. You can get dosas lunchtime at Vimala's but not for dinner. I would love dosas for dinner. Hope so

          LM: thanks for the kind wishes, it was fun bumping into you & Lulu too. Have a lovely TG yourself. Though I wish I were at the vegetarian one at Spice Street. Arg....

          Spice Street
          201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            Tower has dosas but as it is a veg restaurant I doubt they will have fish or chicken gravy.

            1. re: bbqme

              right I was just going on the dosa part.. based on your reply of never having heard of the combo that Andrew mentioned.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                http://www.flickr.com/photos/prabhaka... Dosa with Chicken gravy, looks good, hope they make that!
                cooking eggplant theeyal now:)

                1. re: Rory

                  I got another Indian cookbook recently, India: The Cookbook, by Pushpesh Pant (yes, that's really his name!). It's quite the anthology on Indian cookery in case you're interested.

                  1. re: bbqme

                    Yes Pushpesh and Madhur are well known Indian cookbook authors as you may already know.

          2. I saw people working inside as I drove by today so I stopped and asked them when they were opening and the owner said Monday. They had a copy of their menu posted and it indeed looks great, decidedly South Indian (Tamil, Andhra, Kerela). Several intriguing sounding dishes besides the typical offerings. Their table sized dosas for 4 people must be quite the spectacle.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bbqme

              Now I'm in heaven:) If they'd been open yesterday I'd have had a great Thanksgiving & my family agreed - the big dosa trumps turkey any day. Thanks for the rec for Pant's book, pumpkin erriseri turned out a treat tonight!

            2. They just put up photos of many of their dishes on their Facebook page and I must say, it looks really tantalizing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bbqme

                Gosh just looked & it does look fantastic; we have to go.

                1. re: Rory

                  We're heading to Chola Nad Friday night for dinner. I'm eager to try the Singaporean chili crabs.

              2. What kind of impact do y'all think this will have on Vimala's? If the rent's the same as it was for Cypress, I'd be surprised if they are able to make it. I'd hate to lose Vimala's in the process. One thing's for sure, they are going to have to feed a lot of people to survive.

                17 Replies
                1. re: veganhater

                  By the way, I'm aware they are not identical styles of Indian cuisine. Just not sure it matters for the general public.

                  1. re: veganhater

                    I'm a little confused.. what does them losing their space have to do with Vimala?

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      I don't think veganhater is saying they'll lose their space - just that the space on Franklin is likely pretty expensive, and it is a bit risky having 3 (maybe 4?) Indian restaurants all within a few blocks of each other. And that having so many makes it more likely that at least one will fail. Hoping it isn't Vimala's. I hope I have that right VH.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        All Indian food isn't alike. Mint & Guru are Northern & Mint especially caters to the creamy Indian-American taste. Not authentic. They have their following & more power to them.
                        Vimala and Cholanad are Southern; big difference. Vimala's is for everyday & she has great prices & locally sourced food & is authentic. Cholanad seems to do fusion & 'new' Southern food & looks decidedly upscale. Different.

                        1. re: Rory

                          I was just trying to explain to burgeoning what I thought veganhater was saying; I get the differences. That said, I am not sure most of the populace of the area will get the differences. I hope whatever is good is successful, for sure. And that definitely would include Vimala's.

                      2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        who's losing a space? Cypress lost a space because the economics of rent versus sales is razor thin on Franklin St. I don't see a great difference in this new restaurant's ability to succeed, especially in light of the close by Indian options. I also love Vimala's, and want them to continue to be successful. Lulu's Mom is correct in her interpretation of my post, which incidentally, seems fairly clear after re-reading. To clarify for burgeoningmoodie and rory, re-read my post. Cholanad occupies the old Cypress space. This will be a tough go for anyone, especially an Indian restaurant with vimala's and others in very close proximity.

                        As for Rory's last comment, come on man. I said Vimala's and Cholanad were not identical styles of Indian food, which you agreed with. I don't see enough people differentiating the subtleties of two southern Indian restaurants on Franklin St. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

                        1. re: veganhater

                          Reread and I stay by my original thought process. I think LulusMom cleared it up better. Cypress wasn't just a victim of the economy. I had some dealings with them and beside the fact that their food seemed uninspired, they had an air about them that borderlined on arrogance instead of confidence. That aside.. the space on Franklin is always going to more pricey (especially closer to center) than the courtyard. The one improvement the courtyard has made over the past year is kicking out a supposed jerk of a director/owner. If they could some how get better signage out front and fix the parking lot in the back, it would also help.

                          On a slightly separate note, Now that Penang is gone I wonder what will go there. I've never eaten there so I don't know what the space is like. I still hold out for an authenticate tapas place, yakitori bar or ramen/noodle shop. If the space were larger, I'd say go with a japanese steakhouse or a farm to fork restaurant in the vein of Piedmont or a good but not overly expensive French Bistro.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            I've heard the rent on the Penang space is 14,000/month. What do you think will be able to survive there? It's gotta be something priced to do large volume.

                            1. re: veganhater

                              Japanese Steakhouse? Sushi Bar? Golden Corral (I keed I keed)... *shrugs* Wonder what will become of the former Ham's space.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                With two sushi/Japanese places already on Columbia, another one wouldn't be likely to succeed, I think. Heck if I know what would, though.

                              2. re: veganhater

                                Was just walking by the old Penang space last night (after a good meal at Talulla's - that place is worth giving another try everyone, maybe the problems of the past few years are over) and commenting on how busy it always seemed. Horrible food, but they always seemed to draw a crowd. So it really does boggle the mind what they could put in that big space that would make as much or more than what was already in there.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  How about a really good diner? Breakfast, lunch and dinner would help tackle the rent hurdle. Reasonable prices would help draw the volulme of people needed. If everything was made from scratch, the kitchen was run by a talented chef and there was an interesting beverage program I think it would have a shot at making a little money.

                                  1. re: veganhater

                                    Vegan - that's what I'm looking for. I want someplace with good, homemade comfort food, serving 3 meals a day, at reasonable price point. I'm not saying inexpensive, just good (great) food. Also, I'm not interested in the typical diner menu of offering everything under the sun, but just good fresh food.

                              3. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                I ate lunch at Vimala's today (first time in store, I'd had take-out and eaten their food at events). The food was super.

                                I was surprised by the parking lot out back. They've repaved it, opened up the whole back and have a small adjacent city lot back there now (this may not be news to anyone else, but it was to me).

                                I also didn't notice Penang was closed. Surprised they lasted so long.

                                1. re: brokegradstudent

                                  It might be that Penang lasted so long because it is a chain - maybe corporate helped them out. But as bad as it was, it did always seem to be busy when we'd walk by.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Glad you had a great lunch bgs:) I was just trying to say that that Chola may be a destination seeing as they have things like Andhra dishes and Singapore Chili crab. Anyway I wish them success.
                                    Penang, I went with a Singaporean friend, ugh. A real noodle place with korean, chinese, Thai would probably go over great.

                                    1. re: Rory

                                      We did carry out from Chola Nad tonight. They're using a different menu than the one published online, so no Singaporean Chili Crab for me, which was a big let down. I asked about the missing crab and was told that the paper carry out menu (which is now posted on the website) is the only menu they have.

                                      They do have one soft shell crab dish on the menu. It was excellent. We also ordered saag paneer, bindi, and a dosa. I'm spoiled by the crispy bindi served at Saffron. Chola Nad's version was more of a stew, so I was disappointed. The saag paneer was OK, though a little light on the paneer. I'd say they're definitely worth a try, but keep your expectations in check, they're still finding their way.

                                      For those of you who raised concerns about the fate of Vimala's in light of Chola Nod, I say this: the best way to express your support is to occupy Vimala's for a meal preferably with friends.

                        2. We had lunch at Chola Nad (day #4) and it was really good. We particularly liked the chicken dosa. Spoke with the chef briefly who was very enthusiastic about his New "South Indian" fusion cuisine. Our final assessment is pending a dinner (or two).

                          1. We went there for lunch today and really enjoyed it. We shared a samosa chat for an app. The 4 small samosas are filled with a daal instead of potato and the chutneys that came with it was yummy. Not as good as the samosa chaat at Kebab and Curry House in Durham though. For mains my wife got the spring veg dosa with a medhu vadai (savory, crispy doughnut-like item) and I got the sauteed chicken dosa. Her dosa was served with sambar and mine was served with curry gravy and raita. We were also served three chutneys: coconut, chilanto/chili, and tomato/onion. First impression is that the servings are huge! My wife's dosa could feed at least two people and I finished a little more than half of mine before I as full. Both dosas ere nicely crispy and delicious. The prices here is very reasonable , the atmosphere light and bright, and I liked the 80s music rather than the obligatory sitar music playing over the sound system. This was a promising experience and I look forward to coming back for dinner soon.

                            One concern: at 12:30 we and another couple were the only ones in there. I hope this was because UNC was playing Kentucky.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: bbqme

                              Franklin St. was insane today. I've never, in 7 years here, seen such traffic jams. So I'm guessing that had something to do with the lack of patrons.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Bbqme; what is in a spring veg dosa? Gosh medhu vadai I love them. Sounds delicious; want to try the buns, the Tamil specialty. Also the Andhra egg curry & more!

                                1. re: Rory

                                  It was just carrots, cabbage, peas, onion,etc. cooked with some spices and curry leaves. It was only $7 to boot (mine was $9). My Kingfisher beer was $3. Lunch here is a bargain.

                                  1. re: bbqme

                                    Went tonight for dinner. The reason it's not crowded is they haven't advertised as it's the soft opening.
                                    We ordered; the curry puffs, a nice light flaky mouthful the pepper, crushed pepper, onion dosa (which is actually not the crispy crepe it's a pancake called an uppatham), the Madurai Mutton biryani and a side of Andhra eggs.
                                    I was disappointed at getting an uppatham, it was served with sambhar (thick spicy lentils) a lentil doughnut, 3 chutneys: mint, coconut, tomato(?) but it was fantastic, really refined. No way I could make this at home. The biryani was just awesome, it's spicy, studded with mutton & came with a mild gravy & cooling raita we all loved it. I have never had a decent biryani much less a terrific one like this. The andhra eggs were a treat; they're hard-cooked with a sauce.
                                    The chef, Subash, came out to talk with us afterwards & apologized about the uppatham, talk with him before you order. He gave me suggestions about what to order & insisted we have payasam pongal for dessert (I wanted carrot halwa). We finished with masala chai and the pongal a rice + jaggery dessert. He was right the pongal was wonderful. And I have never seen it on a menu.
                                    We all loved this place & can't wait to come back. Dinner was very reasonable & the cuisine refined. The chef was really warm & loved to share his enthusiasm for South Indian & Tamil food we had a good laugh about trying to make iddlys in this climate.

                                    1. re: Rory

                                      Glad you had a good meal. We are scheduled to have dinner the Friday after next. I will definitely order the biryani. Frankly, I've never been a big fan of uttapam or idly. I also told the owner that I was really happy to have a South Indian restaurant that was non-veg. He was pleased to hear that.

                            2. I've been following all the posts about Chola Nad.

                              Does anyone know the history of the people involved in the restaurant? For instance, has the chef been in this area for some time? Moved here from another place? I'm just intrigued by history or development of restaurants. Also, intrigued by decision to add another Indian restaurant to Chapel Hill, especially so very close to 3 other Indian restaurants.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: wintersummer

                                I asked the owner if he previously owned a restaurant or if this was a totally new endeavor and he replied the latter. Despite the inexperience I think he is doing most things right except he could be leaner with his staffing. For example, there was no need for a hostess at lunch time when we went. Given his reasonable pricing he needs to keep his costs under control because of the high rent I imagine he has to pay for such a premium location. I really want this place to make a go of it.

                                1. re: bbqme

                                  Thanks to Rory and bbqme for their reviews which will be very helpful when we go on a second visit to Chola Nad.

                                  We also asked the Chef about his background during our first visit and he stated that he had helped to develop concepts for several Indian restaurants the most recent of which was in Hopkins Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb. The restaurant appears to be Curry 'n Noodles, www.currynnoodles.com/ but I have not yet confirmed this. It is the only Indian restaurant in Hopkins and the staff is reportedly South Indian. The menu seems completely different to me (not an expert in regional Indian cuisine) but there are some South Indian dishes. There is a buffet. Nothing useful on Chowhound. Urbanspoon reviews range from "best Indian in Minneapolis metro comparable to Indian restaurants in San Francisco" to "Service sucks (no comment on food)"

                                  I also agree with Tom from Raleigh that the best way to support your favorite restaurants is do dine out often and with friends. If a restaurant provides exceptional food at a good value, then they will come.

                                  1. re: ocathain

                                    Report back here I'm dying to hear what everybody had. It makes for a tastier next trip; hehe;-)