Indian Spicy Kitchen
This worthy new joint will get your goat
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Oct. 7, 2011
all-you-can-eat buffet, 11am-3pm
Indian Spicy Kitchen500 Canyon Ridge Dr. Ste. L-275, 828-6909
Daily, 11am-10pm; all-you-can-eat buffet, 11am-3pm
What separates Indian Spicy Kitchen from other Indian restaurants in town is simple: big, bold, complex flavor. Where others make a perfunctory nod toward the flavor profile of a particular dish, Indian Spicy slaps you upside the head with it, all the while keeping it balanced and clean. I might as well tell you up front: It's my new favorite subcontinent food in Austin.
Head man Dhan Raj Basnet arrived from Arizona. "It was too hot there for me," he says with a wry chuckle. He picked a fine summer to migrate, no? The restaurant opened about six months ago; you'll find it in the H-E-B shopping center just south of Parmer Lane. Take the first right off of Parmer east of I-35, and the first right when you enter the shopping center; Indian Spicy Kitchen is due west of the H-E-B in the center of its own satellite ministrip. When you enter, you find a large, open dining room that manages to seem intimate despite ceilings more than 20 feet high.
Huge kudos go to the management team for seating all of the families with noisy small children in a back dining room – not banished to the boonies, mind you, just offset so that their racket was less intrusive. The whole place is sparklingly clean, and the staff is friendly and accommodating. A large percentage of the diners appeared to be natives, which always lends credibility and helps to boost my assessment of authenticity. The UT cricket team was seated close to the flat screen showing the cricket match, while the rest of us had flat screens showing some robust Bollywood action. The bottom line, though, is that everything we tasted was delicious.
We started with mango and corn soup ($2.99), refreshing, clean, and full of corn flavor with a sweet-sour mango edge. The accompanying pappadam are rich, savory, and spicy with black pepper, while the chutneys are superb: Lime and chile pickle has real depth of flavor without being overly salty, the cilantro sauce has a green chile edge that works perfectly, and the tamarind sauce is rich and tart. Aloo tikki ($2.99) is the ideal latke, except bumped up with layers of spice: crispy outside, moist inside. A mixed appetizer platter ($6.99) came with juicy chicken tikka chunks from the tandoor, along with two cylinders of amazingly flavorful and lamb-y seekh kebab, a nest of crispy vegetable pakoras, and a golden brown pyramid of spud-stuffed samosa. The flaky keema naan ($3.49) is loaded with so much tasty minced lamb it shames all of its competitors, more suggestive of a burger than the typical naan.
A Nepalese dish got us very excited: momos, or coarsely minced chicken and spinach-stuffed steamed dumplings ($7.99); a dozen large, plump dumplings encircling a ramekin of zesty cilantro-yogurt sauce. They are incredibly delicious and rich, and the plate shimmers with schmaltz when you cut them open. No meal here should go momoless. Another Nepalese dish blew us away: taas ($8.99), a goat dry curry, with the tender chunks of meat thickly coated with a paste of spices and chile. The taste is addictively excellent, and it comes resting on a layer of popped rice. The rice absorbs the flavor of the goat and spice paste and tastes light and airy, yet manages to be toothsome at the same time. It is very unique, very interesting, and absolutely delicious.
Our order of lamb vindaloo ($9.99, a dish from Portuguese-influenced Goa) was one of the better versions we've tasted lately. The lamb is tender, and the assertive flavors of vinegar, ginger, tomato, and masala complement one another well. Malai kofta ($7.99), a classic vegetarian Mughlai dish, is a surprising delight. Torpedo-shaped dumplings of grated paneer cheese and vegetables and green chiles are bathed in a thick, oniony, creamy almond sauce with hints of cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, tomato, and turmeric. It was the spiciest dish we tasted, and one of the favorites. Aloo bhojpuri ($6.99) is a treat: Potatoes are hollowed out and stuffed with a mixture of cheese, currants, cashew paste, and the potato. They sit in a complex, tomato-based curry with ginger, turmeric, dried mango, cumin, and red chile: a fantastic combination.
We checked out the lunch buffet ($9.99), and it all looked interesting, fresh, and well-replenished (and included a tempting goat curry). Portions here are large when compared to the typical local Indian restaurants, and Indian Spicy Kitchen doesn't scrimp on curry; there is plenty for scooping up with any of its excellent breads. We couldn't have been happier with our meals. Very highly recommended.