May 18, 2010 > Restaurant Review: Great Indian food, handmade sweets at Taste of India
Restaurant Review: Great Indian food, handmade sweets at Taste of India
By Shavon Walker
Taste of India, tucked into a small strip mall off Mowry Avenue and a few doors down from Massimo's, is a taste sensation. During twelve years of business, they have maintained high quality. When asked how they do it, owners Davinder Singh, brother Mohinder and Mohinder's son, Monu, agree, "We grew up in this business. A lot of these other restaurants were started by engineers. I was supposed to be the fourth generation in the restaurant business." Davinder wryly noted that he is majoring in engineering, adding, "I did it backward."
The brightly colored restaurant boasts two large flat screen televisions, one playing Indian music videos. A picture of the owners' father is prominently displayed as are photos of certain dishes. Clean, shiny buffet tables stand ready in a corner for the lunch rush.
My husband and I perused the menu and Davinder called my attention to the pictures. "We did a survey and discovered that people ordered based on the pictures," he explained. "We changed the menu to add more pictures. Later, we'll make them even bigger and use less text."
We ordered butter chicken, Taste of India (TOI) mixed vegetables, lamb masala and goat rogen josh. I also discovered an array of Indian candies, some familiar and others new to me. Monu proudly explained, "We're known statewide for our sweets. Everything is made here. No place else has our selection. People come here for a taste of home." The restaurant even makes sugar free desserts, such as Bason Ghulfi. Of course, we indulged - but I'll get to the desserts in a moment.
The butter chicken was chicken breast prepared Tandoori style in a spicy, creamy tomato sauce. Most restaurant chicken breasts tend to be dry, but this was amazing - moist, juicy and flavorful; the sauce was an added bonus.
My preferred version of Indian vegetables is pakora, but TOI vegetables - fork tender, not too crunchy or overdone - were tossed in a sweet, slightly tangy gravy. "Some families will ask us to do catering and will order Dal (beans) or other simple dishes for the children. We give them samples of the food, and when the kids try the TOI vegetables, they love them so much the family will pick those instead of the Dal," said Davinder.
Taste of India caters weddings and other functions, and takes pride in its ability to make food to order. They have even created original versions of traditional foods. Monu described one particular dish. "We've made paneer chicken with no color on it. It was pure white, but still had all the flavor." The dish was served at a wedding with mashed potatoes. "The guests loved it," he said.
Lamb masala consisted of chunks of tender lamb in a tomato sauce with onion and bell peppers, just as delicious as I thought it would be. The Goat Rogen Josh, cooked in a yogurt and curry sauce with tomato, onion and garlic, didn't have a gamy taste. Every single meat dish was above and beyond my greatest expectations.
I noticed that the sauces at Taste of India were darker and richer than at other restaurants, and the flavor was slightly different. When I asked why, Monu explained. "Many restaurants will add cream to their sauces because their ingredients aren't the best, or to save time. We cook everything from scratch and use the best ingredients we can. We've had cooks here who have wanted to cut corners - they don't stay."
Even the desserts tasted fresher and better. Many Gulab Jamun are served hot to hide a hard and chewy texture; Taste of India's version is like a fresh, cinnamon flavored doughnut hole in a light honey syrup. And, best of all, it can be eaten hot or cold. The Rasmelai, cheese in sweetened condensed milk, was superb. Davinder told me that instead of using canned condensed milk, they boil regular milk for hours until it reaches the right consistency. Indian food lovers can definitely tell the difference.
Taste of India is a wonderful, family oriented restaurant with some of the best Indian food in Fremont. You'll love the food; and the leftovers (if there are any) are even better. I'm already planning my next trip to Taste of India.
Taste of India
5144 Mowry Ave., Fremont
(between Blacow and Farwell)