Curry Mantra 2 in Falls Church - Report
Restaurateur Asad Sheikh wants to have a mini-empire of restaurants just like Ashok Bajoj (Rasika, etc). To that extent he has created a second Curry Mantra in Falls Church that looks like a sophisticated spot in a strip mall.
The first thing that will hit you over the head like a ton of bricks is a wall of reviews plus extra signs proclaiming how much Tom Sietsema loves the place. It is practically a Tom Sietsema shrine.
The menu is filled with more superlatives. Dishes are highlighted in bold as TOM SIETSEMA SAYS "MUST ORDER!" Repeatedly.
I have never seen such overkill.
The restaurant is a bit Jekyll and Hyde. We ordered one of the MUST ORDER dishes, and it was a couple of chunks of dry boneless, skinless chicken breast swimming in a completely bland gravy with zero flavor. I think it was the dish with cashew gravy, but honestly I couldn't tell by tasting it. This dish could qualify as defamation of character for unsuspecting Tom.
We also ordered goat with okra from a page entilted Home Cooking. It was not a dish, but a list of ingredients (meat and vegetable) you could choose from. In theory, it is made just like the proprietor's mom would have done in his hometown. We made sure to ask for it spicy.
This was an excellent dish. The meat-on-the-bone was savory and the okra had been beautifully caramalised.
The prices are not as gentle as other places nearby, so some care in ordering is important.
I had a free lunch there on their opening day. It was OK, but they're trying to be too upscale (fancy menus and elevated prices) for the area. Though I haven't been to Haandi (practically across the street) in a while, I'd probably go there before a paid meal before going to Curry Mantra 2.
I miss Uncle George's kabobs that was in that space not too many years back.
The price is high because they offer coupons via Restaurant.com. Woe is he who pays full price at Curry Mantra.
I've been curious. The price point is not low enough to take me away from Haandi into that crummy parking lot, but I was not aware of the coupons before now, thx for the tip.
Oh well, the restaurant.com site has a Lowe's ad that even when shrunk, blocks out the vital information.
A very astute review. Asad is a very nice guy and working really hard. I've spent a fair bit of time in S. Asia and find the cooking at Curry Mantra one really exceptional, I'm not sure they're at quite the same level as Rasika but superb. Curry Mantra II was a huge disapointment. None of the dishes we ordered was anything like the quality of the origninal.
Had dinner recently at CM2. Ordered some samosas, a 7 wonders dish called Bombay Spicy Fish, and vegetables Biryani. The fish was tilapia. Whether it was fresh or frozen, I don't know but it tasted fishy. It wasn't terribly fishy, but enough to be off putting. I enjoyed the other dishes but they're not noticeably better than the competition. With a Specialicious certificate, the price becomes reasonable.
I recently went to the Saturday lunch buffet and thought it was excellent. Mostly standard Indian buffet options but all very well executed. I posted details under the April 6 mini review thread. I paid full price but the buffet price seemed fair to me, no complaints.