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Category Archives: Indian

Erik and Kira Eat Bombay Cafe

(Update: Bombay Cafe closed in August of 1014 and was eventually replaced by Amrit India. We have no idea if there is any connection between the old restaurant and the new one. -Erik, February 22nd, 2015)

Bombay Cafe. Thursday, May 22nd, 2014. Dinnertime.Kira at Bombay Cafe

Kira and I have been to Bombay Cafe a number of times, both at it’s old location and at its new one. Sometimes when a restaurant moves, it’s just a matter of location and decor. The new spot on the northeast corner of the Square* is more certainly more convenient and visible, and it allows for some outside seating too. The cafeteria-style interior of the old location has been replaced with something a bit more restauranty, with orange walls and plenty of wooden furnishings. If you look closely, you can still see the Quiznos trash cans and sneeze guards. But the move has brought other changes too.

*For those who are new to Bloomington, “the Square” refers to the area around the Monroe County Courthouse, between Kirkwood Avenue and 6th Street and between College Avenue and Walnut Street. It’s the center of the downtown area.

Left: naan. Upper left tray: goat curry. Upper right tray: coconut chicken. Lower left tray: daal.

Left: naan. Upper left tray: goat curry. Upper right tray: coconut chicken. Lower tray: rice and dal.

Some of my friends bemoan the loss of the freshly-prepared dishes of the old Bombay Cafe, but I don’t think anyone misses the long wait times for the food. As it stands now, all the dishes are prepared ahead of time, and you can pick and choose whatever combination of dishes you like. But the quality of those dishes is still outstanding, and I don’t think anyone would complain if it hadn’t once been otherwise. The particular dishes on offer vary from day to day, so if you want something in particular, make sure you check on their Facebook page first. But there’s always at least a few vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Upper right: daal. Lower left: chicken tika masala. Lower right: some kind of cheese dish.

Uppe: rice and dal. Lower left: chicken tika masala. Lower right: some kind of cheese dish.

Kira and I are both fond of the butter chicken, but on this particular trip, we wanted to try some different things. I had goat* curry and coconut chicken, while Kira tried the chicken tika masala and some kind of cheese dish whose name I can’t remember. The goat curry was a little too spicy for me, but not for Kira, although she wished it had more meat in it. The coconut chicken, chicken tika masala, and cheese dish were excellent. The naan is always tasty, if sometimes a little burnt around the edges. I’m not usually crazy about dal, but I like Bombay Cafe’s dal. The owner told us that they’d dropped the old family recipe in favor of a more complex flavor that has a few bits of veggies thrown into the usual mix of lentils. If you’re sensitive to spicy food like I am, I’d stick to the dishes that they tell you are “not spicy”. Some places I can handle “not very spicy” or “only a little spicy”, but Bombay Cafe is not one of those places. When in doubt, the staff will be happy to provide a taste of any of the dishes they have.

*My notes say “gort” curry. I’m not sure if this is my typo or if I was faithfully recording a mistake on the label. This review sat half-written in the queue for a long time, so my memory isn’t very fresh.

Erik, at Bombay CafeI do regret that I never got a chance to try some of the odder-sounding items on the menu at the old location. They’ve still got a sign that advertises “innovative Indian food”, but most of the dishes they offer now aren’t exactly what I’d call “innovative.” Although it is one of the few places in town that regularly serves goat meat. (Although to be honest, when it comes to curry, I can’t really tell much of a difference between the various different kinds of red meat.)

If the owner is there (and he almost always is), he’ll also be happy to talk your ear off about the food (or about anything else too). He’ll tell you if a dish is traditional everyday Indian food, or if it’s really only eaten on special occasions. If you ask, he’ll talk about the trials and tribulations of running a restaurant, from why he decided not to dump his Quiznos franchise for his own restaurant to why he doesn’t have a cash register. Fortunately, he always maintains an air of friendliness and helpfulness, so I enjoy engaging him in conversation whenever I’m there.

The “combos” come with naan, rice, dal, and two dishes. The regular size is usually enough for me or Kira, and will cost you eight dollars. If you opt for the large combo, it will cost you somewhere between twelve and fourteen dollars, depending on whether you get vegetable, chicken, or other meat dishes Even though you’ll order your food at the counter, they’ll ask you to pay when your’e done eating. It’s really easy to forget, and I’ve almost walked out the door without paying on more than one occasion.

Making a crêpe at Bombay Cafe

Erik eating a crêpe at Bombay CafeProbably the best new addition is the shawarma and crêpe stand that appears outside the Cafe on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. We’ve never had the shawarma, but when we visited, I insisted on trying a banana-Nutella crêpe. It was fun to watch the crêpe-maker at work, and he graciously allowed me to take lots of pictures while he worked. And of course it was very tasty.

So here’s the short version: Consistent quality Indian food at a good price; not as freshly prepared as it was at the old location. Don’t forget to pay on your way out. Also: crêpes!

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Bombay Cafe (closed)

Exterior of Bombay Cafe, with crêpe stand out front (Update: According to their Facebook page, Bombay Cafe closed for a week in August, 2014, but has not been open since (6 weeks later), and is not responding to questions on FB. If closed, this would become the millionth restaurant that has closed after we reviewed it. Ok, maybe just the 7th, but that seems like a lot. Either way, we will miss it if it truly is gone. -Kira, September 17th, 2014)

(Update: Bombay Cafe never reopened and was eventually replaced by Amrit India. We have no idea if there is any connection between the old restaurant and the new one. -Erik, February 22nd, 2015)

Bombay Cafe is has closed, becoming the millionth restaurant that has done so after we reviewed it. Ok, maybe just the 7th. But that seems like a lot. Either way, we will miss it.

An Indian restaurant/café featuring “innovative Indian food”

Location:
124 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 200-9999

Hours:
Closed

Website: http://www.bombaycafe.net (their Facebook page is more up-to-date)
Menu:
 changes daily (see their Facebook page for today’s menu)

Prices:
$8 – $15

Review Summary:
Consistent quality Indian food at a good price; not as freshly prepared as it was at the old location. Don’t forget to pay on your way out. Also: crêpes!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Asian, Cafe, Closed, Indian, Info Pages

 

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Kira’s Number 16: Bombay House

Kira at Bombay House(Update: Bombay House closed down a few years ago, only to be reopened by some of its former employees under the new name Amol India. Amol India closed down last year. The location is now India Garden. We haven’t been there yet. -Erik, May 2014)

The Place: Bombay House

I have never been much of a fan of Indian food. I will eat it, but have never really enjoyed it. Erik had been to Bombay House before for both the lunch buffet and for dinner, but I had just been there for dinner. This time we went for the buffet.

The Time:
Monday, August 07, 2006, 12:30pm

Erik's plate at Bombay House

Erik’s plate: navratan kourma, aloo beans, garlic naan, chicken vindaloo, rice, and dal makhani

The Atmosphere:
The place has a little bit of an upscale feel to it, but is still cozy. There are 2 different rooms to sit in, but there was a large group in one of the rooms, and even though we happened to know 1 of the people in the large group, we sat in the other, smaller room. The room fits about 15 people, but does not feel cramped.

The Food:
There was a wide selection in the buffet, from Tandoori Chicken, to Chicken Vindaloo, Aloo Beans, and Dal Makani. There was plenty for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Of course there was the traditional bread, naan, but there was also the garlic naan, which was quite good. I couldn’t really get into the main dishes. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t to my taste. Once again, I think that I am just not a big fan of certain Indian foods. The one thing that I did notice was that the Tandoori chicken was not as dry as I’ve had it other places.

Tapioca pudding at Bombay HouseThere was a selection of rice, and also some mediocre rice pudding and fruit in sweet cream for dessert. And don’t forget the weird little mint things that are in a bowl in the hallway on the way out. I don’t particularly like them, but they amuse me for some reason.

It wasn’t a bad experience, I just think that I would have preferred a different selection.

The Service:
For the buffet, there really isn’t much service. They seat you and get you drinks. A few things in the buffet line were almost out when we got our first plate of food, but most things had been refilled by our second serving.

When we went for dinner, I had nothing to complain about the service.

Weird little mint things at Bombay HouseThe Price:
I don’t quite remember, but I think it was around $8-9 for the lunch buffet, which seemed a little over-priced, but not outrageous. It could be worth it if you came really hungry. The entrees for dinner are between $10-14. Again, a little high, but you generally get a lot of food.

The Rest:
Bombay House is a perfectly good Indian restaurant, I just happen to not like Indian food very much. Maybe I’ll go back and try again someday.

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 7 months, not because the quality was bad, but because I don’t care for Indian food very much.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2007 in Asian, Buffet, Closed, Indian, Sit-down

 

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Erik Eats Bombay…finally

Erik, about to stuff his mouth at Bombay House(Update: Bombay House closed down a few years ago, only to be reopened by some of its former employees under the new name Amol India. Amol India closed down last year. The location is now India Garden. We haven’t been there yet. -Erik, May 2014)

Right, so it’s been a while since we last updated, and the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. Things got busy for a while. Not in the terribly busy way that makes respected professionals miss important deadlines, just the normal business that all bloggers either deal with or succumb to. I succame. Then I blew an important exam, and everything went up into the air. We didn’t know if we’d even be around Bloomington long enough to finish the alphabet, and somehow that turned my subconscious’s vision of this one stupid review into a monstrous ordeal, Sisyphean in both difficulty and futility. I still don’t know if we’ll be around long enough to finish the alphabet, but I think I’ve banished the blogger demons of procrastination long enough to spit out at least one backlogged review. (There really are only two, so if they stink, you can just wait until we’re back on our feet with Burger King).

The lunch buffet at Bombay House.

Left to right, top to bottom: tandoori chicken, aloo beans, chicken vindaloo, and navratan kourma

If you notice a difference in style during this review, it’s because I wrote most of the previous reviews without using any form of the word “be” as a literary exercise and a personal challenge. I left it in a few places for humorous effect, due to a literal quotation, or by accident, but I think I was pretty good about it. I’ve lifted the restraint now primarily to make it easier to spit out the dreaded Bombay House review, but also because you can only be arbitrary for so long. Hopefully I’ve learned something from it. I wonder if anyone noticed? (I just read through almost all of the reviews while fixing up the blog for the relaunch, and not only had I forgotten that I was doing this, but I didn’t notice until I read this sentence just now. I guess this means I succeeded? -Erik, May 2014)

More of the lunch buffet at Bombay House

Left to right, top to bottom: bell pepper and onion pakora, naan, dal makhani, and garlic naan

So to review the Indian restaurant Bombay House. It’s been a good 7 months since the visit that appears in the pictures, but I eat there all the time, usually for the lunch buffet. Kira and I have eaten dinner there once or twice, but the lunch buffet is where Bombay House really shines.

It’s not that dinner there isn’t worth your while. On the contrary, it’s the best Indian food I’ve had in the area. The atmosphere is sufficient to make you feel like you’re treating yourself (and your dining companion(s)), but the price isn’t utterly ridiculous. I recommend ordering something other than the tandoori chicken for dinner because while it doesn’t taste bad, it’s a little dry to make an entire meal out of it.

The first time I ate at the very reasonably priced lunch buffet, I was a little set back. The cloth napkins, solid flatware, and overall nice-restauranty feel of the place seemed a little at odds with the fact that I was eating at a relatively cheap lunch buffet. As soon as I tried the food, however, I got over it. For lunch buffet food, it really is quite excellent. Heck, the food quality is above average for a full-price dinner. There’s a good variety of food there, with about a dozen savory dishes and half as many desserts. The menu doesn’t change much from day to day, but it doesn’t have to because just about everything is tasty.

I’m somewhat of an adventurous eater,Dal Makani in that I’ll try just about anything non-toxic at least once, and often repeatedly over the years just to be sure my tastes haven’t changed. I’m not quite sure why this is the case as I usually don’t like the new things that I try. I keep hoping that I’ll like fried jellyfish, soup made with beef tripe, or jalapeño jelly, but I usually don’t. I never have this problem at Bombay House. Most of the food isn’t too strange, almost all of it is tasty, and nothing is ever spicy enough to make me wish I hadn’t put it on my plate. If you’re generally queasy about trying new things, you don’t have to worry too much here, even if you have no idea what “dal makani” is, nor which item on the buffet it refers to. (It’s like ordinary dal (a kind of lentil soup, essentially), only it’s made with black lentils and kidney beans instead of red lentils. -Erik, 2014)

My final thoughts on Bombay House: good for dinner, great for lunch.

See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 4, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 4.5, Wow – 3 (Huh?)

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2007 in Asian, Buffet, Closed, Indian, Sit-down

 

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Bombay House

Exterior Bombay House(Update: Bombay House closed down a few years ago, only to be reopened by some of its former employees under the new name Amol India. Amol India closed down last year. The location is now India Garden. We haven’t been there yet. -Erik, May 2014)

An Indian food restaurant with a lunch buffet

Location:
416 E 4th St (map)
Bloomington, IN 47408

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 4, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 4.5, Wow – 3 (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 7 months (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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Kira’s Number Three: Anyetsang’s Little Tibet

The decor at Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant. Includes a photo of the Dalai Lama and a Tibet poster.The Time:
Wednesday, April 19th 8:30 pm-ish

The Place: Anyetsang’s Little Tibet
This was my first time to Anyetsang’s Little Tibet, although Erik had been there many times for lunch. I am a fan of most Asian foods, and so was looking forward to this place, which has a menu of ‘Tibetan Specialties’, ‘Thai Specialties’, and ‘Indian Curry Specialties’. Over all, I was not impressed.

Temo and phing shaw

Temo and phing shaw.

The Atmosphere:
There are a lot of photos of the Dalai Lama. I heard somewhere that the owner is the Dalai Lama’s brother, but I didn’t ask. There is outside sitting, which at this time of year I would have preferred, but there was a little chill in the air, and I get cold easily, so we opted to eat inside. There were plenty of people there, but they were all outside. We were the only people inside, which probably contributed to our slow service.


The food: 

Since Tibet is in the name of the restaurant, we both opted for one of the Tibetan specialties. I ordered the Phing Shaw (“Bean thread noodles stir-fried with assorted vegetables, secret seasonings and your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, pork or tofu”). I asked for half chicken and half tofu, although they forgot my tofu the first time around so that they had to take it back to add it in. Salad at Anyetsang's: iceberg lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and red cabbageErik got the Temo She Tse with chicken, another veggie stir-fry, this time with “all famous seasonings”.

But first came the soup of the day, which was a watery lentil soup. Eh. Then the tossed salad–some iceberg with red onion, cucumbers, and a big slice of carrot, served with a side of surprisingly strong oriental-type dressing. While I usually I like oriental salad dressing, I did not like this salad. The dressing just didn’t go with the iceberg, or maybe it was just too strong. Both entrees came with a choice of jasmine rice or temo (steamed bread), so Erik ordered the rice and I got the Temo. The steamed bread was definitely the best part of the meal. It almost tastes like eating raw dough, and it is great for dipping in the sauce of the entrees.

Temo she tse, with chicken, carrots, bean sprouts, black mushrooms, broccoli, string beans, cabbage, onions, baby corn, and zucchini

Temo she tse.

The menu mentions secret seasonings, special seasonings, now-famous seasonings, and special sauces. I have no idea what the differences are between them, if any, but the now-famous seasonings in Erik’s Temo She Tse was more of a tomato sauce-not an Italian tomato sauce but more like tomato soup-while mine was more what I think of when I think stir-fry. And there definitely was a wide assortment of vegetables in both of our dishes. There was a slightly different assortment in each dish, but they included mostly: broccoli, tomatoes, many different kinds of mushrooms, carrots, sprouts, bok choy, onions, bamboo, and probably a few more that I am forgetting. I’m not a huge veggie person, so I could’ve done with less vegetables and more meat. I didn’t like Erik’s dish as much, the tomato-y sauce didn’t go as well with the rest of the food, although the steamed bread sure did taste good in it. Mine was pretty good, though, for how many veggies there were. And the tofu was just regular tofu, like most places I go to. There is a place in Tempe, AZ called Plaid that has THE best tofu. I think they bake it or grill it first, so it isn’t slimy at all. I keep hoping that I’ll find another place that does it like that, but this is not it.

The Service: 
Our waiter was friendly, but was not good at giving suggestions. He was also was pretty slow, and we had to ask another woman who worked there for water after we had been without it for quite awhile. It also took a long time to deal with the check.

The Price:
Wow, I just really looked at the menu. Every dinner entree on it is $9.95 ($10.45 for shrimp), except for the Pad Thai, which is $9.25 ($9.75 with shrimp). Most everything for lunch is $5.95. Appetizers are $4.95, and Soups and Stews are $7.50. I guess they find a number a stick with it. (Prices are now $8-$9 for lunch, and pretty much every single dinner entrée is $12.95. -Erik, April 2014)

The Rest:
Eh, I wasn’t impressed, even though that Temo bread was really good.

How often would I go back? 
Maybe 3 times a year. It wasn’t awful, but I don’t see a reason to go back very often. (what’s this?)

 

Erik Eats (a little) Tibet

Erik at Anyetsang's Little Tibet RestaurantI can think of many features of family-owned restaurants that make me prefer them to large chains. It turns out that I don’t like everything about the little independent restaurants. Case in point: major franchise restaurants do not close on Tuesdays. I understand all the work involved in running a restaurant, and that everyone needs a weekend, even if they can’t afford to hire replacements. And I appreciate that the restaurants stay open on my weekends. But you have to give me a little sympathy here. I mean, come on…Tuesday?!

Eventually we did make it to Anyetsang’s Little Tibet, which showed up quite a bit earlier on the list than I’d expected considering everyone just calls it “Little Tibet.”
I’ve heard rumors that the brother of the Dalai Lama owns this restaurant, but I have yet to confirm this. I normally try to remain skeptical about claims of this sort, but every time I mention it to someone, I usually receive a response along the lines of “I didn’t know that, but it does make sense.”The Dalai Lama, hanging out at Anyetsang's Little Tibet. The Lama seems to have some sort of connection to Bloomington, but I haven’t tracked that down either. Let me see what the internet has to say on the subject… You can go read Kira’s review while you wait.

[two hours pass]

Okay, so the brother of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, does not own Little Tibet. That honor belongs to Thupten Anyetsang, although the Lama’s brother, Thupten (or Thubten, depending on who writes it) Jigme Norbu, a retired IU professor does live here in Bloomington. The search has reminded me how much more I like Gyatso than most other religious leaders in the news, but I don’t want this to become a political blog, so I’ll avoid heading down that path.

(Thubten Jigme Norbu’s son, also named Thubten Jigme Norbu, was the owner of Snow Lion, Bloomington’s other Tibetan restaurant. In 2008, the father died from an illness at the age of 86. Tragically, three years later, his son was hit by a car and killed during a walk to promote Tibetan independence. -Erik, April 2014)

Instead I’ll talk about Anyetsang’s little restaurant. So far, I know of two Tibetan restaurants in the city, and I haven’t eaten at The Snow Lion yet, so you’ll have to wait until we get to the S’s to read a comparison. Little Tibet falls into the surprisingly large group of small, family-owned, ethnic restaurants that Bloomington seems to do so well. (I say family-owned, but I guess I really just mean that the owner actually shows up to work occasionally.)

Temo bread.

Temo bread.

Whenever I go to an ethnic restaurant for the first time, I always try to stick to those dishes labeled with the advertised ethnicity. Little Tibet also has Indian and Thai cuisine, but it just feels wrong to order pad thai when they’ve got mo mo, temo she tse, phing shaw, and a half dozen other entrées of which I’ve never heard. I had eaten there before, so this time I passed on the mo mo, a tasty, doughy bread-ball with a variety of stuffing options, and instead I ordered the temo she tse. I don’t know what that means, but I’ve learned that “temo” refers to a steamed bread item which, for some reason, appeared only as an optional side with my dish. I’ve got nothing against their rice, but if you get a chance to try Anyetsang’s temo, do it. That was probably my favorite part of the meal.

Yellow, soupy stuff. (Otherwise known as dal.)

Dal.

Most dinner dishes at Anyetsang’s come with salad (don’t use too much of the dressing) and a yellow soupy substance that I’ve never developed a taste for. (It’s called “dal.” -Erik, April 2014) My friend Neeraj (a.k.a. Baby Bok Choy) says that outside of the U.S., people pour the stuff over their rice instead of eating it as soup, which struck me as odd because around here, it always shows up before the rice. I don’t care much for it either way, but your mileage may vary.

Both my dish and Kira’s (the phing shaw) bore many similarities to the sorts of stir-fry dishes that you can find at most Asian restaurants in this country, featuring some kind of meat (or tofu) and a very wide variety of vegetables. Other than this wide variety of vegetables, I don’t really have any other complaints about the food. But I do feel that they put too many different types of vegetable on my plate. I got up to twelve before I lost count. It seemed as if they just threw a bit of every vegetable that they could find in there. Some didn’t mesh as well as others, especially the tomatoes. Kira’s phing shaw didn’t seem to have this problem, though that dish also featured a bewildering variety of vegetation. Somehow, it just seemed to work better, the veggies backing each other up rather than getting in each others’ ways. See if you can tell the difference between my food (on the left) and Kira’s (on the right). They look very, very similar, but do not taste the same at all. Despite its lack of coherency, I still finished off my food, and I did not leave dissatisfied.

Erik's temo she tse (left) and Kira's phing shaw (right).

This time, we remembered to take pictures of the food before we ate it, so if you’d like to take a look, head on over to the photo gallery. (Sadly, we lost most of the pictures in the move. I’ll see if I can track them down eventually. -Erik, April 2014)

(I’ve located the pictures, and I’ve started re-uploading them and integrating them into the posts. I probably won’t recreate a full gallery for each restaurant, however. But you can see more pictures in Kira’s review. -Erik, May 2014)

Yum – 3.5, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 2, Wow – 4 (Huh?)