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Archive for April, 2009

…but I was in another state so it doesn’t count.  I spent the weekend in Indianapolis visiting a friend, and a quick internet search pleasantly surprised me with Indian Buffets-a-plenty scattered throughout The Crossroads of America.  The first stop: Passage to India, a vegetarian buffet located in a random strip mall on Lafayette Road.

Passage to India/Udupi CafeI believe it used to be called the Udupi Cafe, named after a town in Southern India (Udupi cuisine is one of the popular cuisines of South India)

mmm... food

I just love trying out new Indian restaurants everywhere I go. This place definitely had it’s own unique overall taste going on. Everything was exceptionally flavorful, a little spicier than most buffets I’ve been to. Some of the dishes had a pungent, almost minty flavor. The food was interesting and very, very delicious. This buffet is exclusively Southern-Indian, featuring dishes like Sambar, Pulao, idlis and dosas. The Mattar Paneer and the Sesame Potatoes were so good they required a second (and third, I won’t lie) helping.

the dosasThey even brought us fresh dosas (and some of the best Naan I’ve ever had)

the parking lot hair clipthe little white flower-shaped hair clip my friend found in the parking lot deserves a mention too.  Unsanitary?  Noooo.  Slightly fearless, yes.

India PalaceThe next day we tried India Palace Restaurant located in the same strip mall as Passage to India.  India Palace is (obviously!) far more visible from the street, but less delicious than it’s elusive vegetarian neighbor. The food here was way less spicy, and the Naan, featured as a buffet element as opposed to made fresh, was quite stale.  But hey, I still left happy.

Round 1Round 1: more yummy Mattar Paneer, Saag, tomato chickpeas, Masoor Dal, stale naan, semi-stale poori, and a tasty fried potato thing.

Round 2Round 2: more of the above-mentioned yummies, plus a bowlful of chutneys and, hidden away on the right side of the plate, a veggie pakora. The chutneys (mango, tamarind, mint and tomato) did plenty to liven up the slightly bland food.  India Palace did have the most extensive dessert bar I’ve yet to see at a buffet, which made me happy.  Overall a delicious experience.

Though I discovered at least 5 other Indian restaurants I’d like to try next time I visit Indianapolis, the uniqueness of Passage to India will definitely have me coming back.  I won’t forget those Sesame Potatoes any time soon.

But just to be clear, my heart will always belong to one buffet only <3

-Carolyn

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My super-vegan friend and I were trying to figure out where we could eat the other night; ever since Balasia moved locations (and has yet to re-open) our choices were quite limited.  We decided to try Mangos, located at 3750 Hamilton Blvd in Allentown.  I had never even heard of this place before, but with several smoked tofu dishes on the menu, we figured they must be at least relatively veg-friendly.

Chips and non-vegan dips :P
We sat down and were immediately given a basket of chips with a little bowl of black bean hummus and a cheesy corn dip.  Yum, hummus – a vegan’s safe haven right?  Not exactly; we learned (after my poor dairy-hating friend had taken several bites) that their hummus contains sour cream.  Not a big deal to me, but my friend was kind of annoyed, since hummus is traditionally a vegan dish.

Veggie Empanadas

I decided on the Veggie Empanadas appetizer – a pastry filled with smoked tofu, plantains, roasted vegetables and goat cheese.  I asked if there was any chance they could leave out the goat cheese, which there wasn’t, since the filling was already pre-made.  That was fine by me – I didn’t want to be too huge of a pain in the butt!   They were more than willing to bring me sides of pico de gallo and avocado salsa in addition to the ranchero sauce that came with the dish.  The empanadas were good – and with all the extra salsas they were nice enough to bring us, there was plenty of flavor going on.

Smoked Tofu Tacos

We both ordered the Smoked Tofu Tacos for our entrees.  Grilled tofu served in grilled flour tortillas with pickled cabbage, pico de gallo, black beans and yellow rice on the side.  We left out the cilantro creme fraiche, but learned that the rice dish did contain butter.  Well, the chefs were nice enough to make us some new rice from scratch, sans butter.  The tacos themselves were ok – the first one was quite bland, but after I loaded up the other two tacos with the tomato and avacado salsas, and the hot sauce my friend requested, the tofu was able to soak up some flavor and ended up pretty good.  The pickled cabbage gave everything a nice tangy crunch.

So, the bottom line: Mangos might not be the best place to eat if you’re looking for a killer tofu dish.  It’s a little disheartening to be served bland tofu in a restaurant.  But with dishes like Turmeric-blend rubbed Salmon, and Macadamia nut encrusted Mahi Mahi with coconut rice pilaf, mango chili gastrique and tropical salsa, I’d definitely want to give Mangos another try.  Maybe if I get back into eating seafood anytime soon I will.  They were willing to bend over backwards to accommodate us, though, so for that Mangos scores some major points.  They even refused to charge me for the Veggie Empanadas, just because they weren’t able to make them without the cheese!  How freaking nice was that?  Mangos definitely provides some of the nicest service I’ve experienced in the Valley.

-Carolyn

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