Category Archives: Indian

A+ for taste. That’s right, A+!

Udipi Cafe

4141 Old William Penn Hwy
Monroeville, PA 15146

Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine

This place is in the middle of nowhere, looks a little sketchy on the outside, and a little sketchy on the inside, but OMG is the food amazing.  I though Zaiaka’s was good (and I still think it is well above par) but this place-AMAZING!

We went on a Sunday night and there was a line out the door.  Now, mind you, the place is pretty small so it doesn’t take more than 50 people to make this place burst at the seams. The inside was pretty dull and boring and the service was nothing to write home about, but again, the food was worth writing to just about anybody about.  And all vegetarian?  I’m a believer!

The menu is large and full of amazingly tasty looking veggie delights.  A friend recommended the Dosa, so we went with that and quite a bit more.

First, we went with the Royal Appetizer Sampler.  Fancy, I know. It was huge and delightful!

And here is my only warning to you.  The peppers are “praying to sweet baby Jesus make the burning stop” hot.  I mean like hot, hot.  Now, I love me some hot peppers and can usually hang with the big boys, but I may have lost a taste bud or two after this one.  The curious thing about this little pepper, is that after I was done with this one, I ate the other one on the plate.  Why, you ask?!  I think I was drunk with the heat from pepper #1.  But, pepper #2 was not spicy at all.  Pepper #1 could have been hotter because I was dipping it in the green sauce that I mistook for a cilantro sauce which was, in reality, a hot peppery sauce.  Once can never be sure, but sample with caution.

For our two main course dishes we went with an old favorite, Malai Kofta, and a new favorite, Masala Dosa.

Malai Kofta– Beautifully floral curry with hearty veggie balls.  Perfectly cooked rice and a sweet and tangy veggie yogurt on the side.  Was just as good reheated for lunch the next day!

Masala Dosa– Perfectly soft crepe with crispy edges good for scooping the chunky potatoes and onions.  The dosa was served with sambar and chutney (two spot on accompaniments.)

I have zero, yes zero, criticisms about either dish.  I would go back for both in a heartbeat, but I am so excited to try everything on this menu.  It is authentic, fresh and flavorful. What more could you ask?  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it is stupid cheap.  You can thank me for the recommendation after your dinner.

Overall grade for Udipi Cafe: A (but A+ for taste!)

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Indian, Monroeville


30 minute drive? Fine by me!

Last week, I decided to redeem a Groupon that I had had laying around for quite some time.  Boy, am I glad I did!!!  Probably some of the best North Indian food I have ever had!

Zaiaka: Authentic Indian Cuisine

Fresh ingredients in EVERYTHING we had.  Competent service.  Friendly owners.

Zaiaka literally means”the flavor.”  Perfect name for this place!  They even start your meal off with the Indian equivalent of chips and salsa- a basket of crispy pappadum, served with sweet tamarind and mint chutney sauces for dipping.

We started off our meal with the Zaiaka Mixed Vegetarian Platter.  This dish won’t win any awards for being, let’s say, heart-healthy, but it could win some for taste!
Vegetable Samosa, Vegetable Pakora & Paneer Pakora.  All of it was tasty and the perfect amount for 2.

Main course:

Malai Kofta: Homemade cheese stuffed in mildly spiced vegetable rounds in a creamy sauce. I have never had these lovely cheesy vegetable puff balls before, but I will now order them anywhere I can get them.  Delicious!  And the sauce that they came in was amazing- the perfect dip for the poori and garlic naan!

Aloo Gobhi: Fresh cauliflower and potatoes sautéed with freshly ground spices.  It’s pretty hard to beat SPICY fresh veggies on top of perfectly cooked Basmati rice. All the veggies were cooked perfectly- still crunchy and very colorful.  Really the perfect, fresh pairing with the Malai Kofta.

North Indians are known for their flatbreads, so we got two different kinds- garlic naan and poori.  The naan was perfection – chewy baked bread covered clarified butter (ghee) loaded with fresh garlic and herbs.  The poori, while a bit more simplistic was just as tasty and naan’s fried counterpart.  I would recommend both, for sure!

I have been to a lot of Indian restaurants in many different states and this was absolutely one of my favorites, if not my favorite to date.  Fresh, spicy ingredients.  Very friendly service.  Gracious owners. And a great assortment of veggie offerings.  They also have a lunch buffet every day of the week.  I am already looking forward to going back!

Overall grade for Zaiaka: Solid A

Zaiaka Authentic Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Indian, Plum


(Almost) Vegan Indian Buffet!

India Garden in Oakland offers some DELICIOUS
vegan offerings on their lunch buffet!

Last week’s lunch expedition lead us to Indian Garden on Atwood in Oakland.  We had orginally set out to have lunch at a neighbor of India Garden, Mi Ranchito Mexican Restaurant who we found closed till Jan 2nd.  As our luck would have it, India Garden’s almost vegan lunch buffet awaited us.

We were greeted at the door by a man who I assumed was the owner.  We sat down and ordered some tea to help us warm up.  The tea was a delicious Masala Chai- if you don’t eat (or drink) dairy, be warned that this comes standard with milk.

We then made our way up to the buffet.  It was a large spread of mostly vegan dishes, all were well marked.  They had lots of lentil and chickpea dishes, some paneer dishes, and the always welcome fried veggie dish.  They also had a dish that I have never had in an Indian restaurant before.  It was in kind-of an Indian BBQ sauce with veggies.  Whatever it was, it was TASTY!  They only had two meat dishes- one chicken and one lamb. The buffet had two bread offerings- garlic nan and poori, which were both good and clearly homemade.

Overall, this was one of the better Indian buffets that I have been to.  Our bill in total was $25.00 for two buffets and two masala chai teas.  A bit pricy for lunch, but the food was fresh and very, very veggie friendly!

India Garden grade= B

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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Indian, Oakland