Spicy Tandoor Restaurant

Chronicle Food writer Mick Vann writes that Spicy Tandoor is Austin's latest Indo-Paki-Bangladeshi restaurant, the most fun and flavorful combination of foods to be found in town.

Spicy Tandoor Restaurant

6800 Airport Blvd. (at Guadalupe), 459-6859

Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-10pm,

Sunday, 11am-8pm

Mubarak Jaffery has opened Austin's latest Indo-Paki-Bangladeshi restaurant in the old Airport Haven restaurant on Airport Blvd., creating the most fun and flavorful combination of foods to be found in town. The old burgers and shakes can now be accompanied with curries, biryanis (a spiced rice dish), and lassi (a yogurt fruit smoothie), or even Greek dishes. One can even get them at the drive-through, and never leave the car.

Mubarak has an interesting culinary pedigree. After obtaining a food management degree in his native Karachi, Pakistan, he moved to Florida, where he owned and managed three Greek restaurants. He has lived in the States for 16 years, working for a wide variety of chain restaurants and obtaining a computer engineering degree before branching out on his own.

Dell brought him to Austin, and while working in the computer field, he bought the 58-year-old Airport Haven restaurant. Over the last two years (especially the last six months), Mubarak has experimented with adding selected South Asian dishes to the old burger menu. This summer he decided to make the metamorphosis complete, converting the popular burger joint to a full menu of eclectic Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, and Greek food, while retaining the old menu.

Our first visit yielded Chicken Jalferezi ($5.99), a famous Pakistani curry flavored with turmeric, red chile, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cilantro. The flavors are complexly spiced, the portion large, and with the accompanying naan bread, it's a complete meal. We also tried the Reshmi Kabab ($4.99), a platter of three Bangladeshi minced chicken kababs, with naan, chopped tomato salad, and chutney. Cooked in the tandoor oven, the kababs are a spicy treat for bored Texan tongues.

Our next visit yielded the succulent Mutton Korma ($5.99), an unctuous New Delhi curry loaded with mutton swimming in a deceptively spicy sauce with hints of cardamom and cayenne. We used toothpicks to extract all the bits of flavorful marrow from the shank bones, and sopped the plate with naan. A flaky samosa stuffed with masala-flavored potato and peas ($.99) polished off that appetizing meal.

Our third visit found us ordering a cheeseburger ($2.59) and onion rings ($1.75) to start the feast, in order to apprise the burger side of the menu. The burger is all that can be expected of the genre (grilled bun, flavorful halal [kosher] meat, nice amount of veggies), and the onion rings were good, although we found the cornmeal breading a bit too thick for our tastes.

We followed the burger starter with the hottest dish we have eaten at Spicy Tandoor, Achar Gosht ($5.99). This dish is a curry of plastic-fork-tender beef cubes in a sauce of "pickling spices," with hints of serrano, tomato, vinegar, coriander, and many more subtle flavors. Luckily a small cup of yogurt-cucumber raita comes with it to calm the heat in this addictively tasty dish.

We also split an order of Behari Kabab ($5.29), which is the beef bargain of the decade. Eight pieces of beef are folded on a skewer (after being marinated in a spice paste with yogurt) and cooked in the tandoor oven. Two naan breads, a tomato-onion salad, and a tamarind-honey chutney come with the dish, so the diner can fold your own wraps. The flavor and tenderness of the beef is sublime, with a spicy finish on the palate.

Jaffery plans on opening a market upstairs at this location, another market with a takeout menu at 3004 Guadalupe, and a sister restaurant with a market at the intersection of Brodie and William Cannon. They can't happen soon enough for our taste.

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