Monday, January 11, 2016

North India Restaurant

This is a story of a very poor delivery experience.

First, you know I rarely order delivery.  I have too many issues with wanting my food hot and fresh, so I'm generally just not willing to order food that I know will be sub-par.  But sometimes, it makes sense to get delivery, and in those cases, my cuisine of choice is usually Indian.  Curries hold their heat decently well, and, if they do get cold, are easy to reheat without sacrificing quality too much.  Naan can be revived decently in the toaster oven.  Rice microwaves well.  So, if you stick to the basics, indian food can be an ideal fit for delivery.

One lazy Sunday, we ordered dinner from North India Restaurant, via Delivery.com.  North India Restaurant is a fairly new place, located just a few blocks from my house.  I hadn't ever had the food before (not in person, nor delivery), but Yelp reviews seemed fairly positive, plus, its close proximity made me think the food had a chance of arriving hot.

Our order came at a time when Ojan had fairly strict requirements about when he ate (for health reasons), so I made the order in advance, at 3pm, for a 6pm scheduled delivery, to ensure it was there in time for dinner.  I was shocked to discover, at 5:30pm when I returned home, that the food had been dropped off sometime before 4pm, and just left sitting in my lobby.  Yes, it was obviously not hot at this point, and I could obviously heat it up, but I was concerned with food being  leftout for 2 hours at room temperature actually not being safe to eat.

So I called up Delivery.com and let them know what had happened, hoping they'd replace the order.  They put me on hold (for 15 minutes!) while they called the restaurant to figure out what was going on.  Finally I was told that they had pretty serious language barrier when speaking to the restaurant, but they *thought* that a new order would soon be delivered.  I was told that if nothing arrived by 6:30pm to call back, because she honestly wasn't certain that the communication had been clear, and a new order made.

Shortly after 6pm, a new order did appear.  And they threw in rice pudding as a bonus, presumably to make up for the mistake.

The food was ... mixed.  I'm still searching for good indian cuisine in this city, and, just like with Thai, I welcome any recommendations!
Chutneys.
Our food came with two little containers of chutney, one was a basic tamarind and the other some sort of green chutney.

I was happy that the restaurant included these automatically.  The green chutney was fairly fresh tasting, loaded with herbs.  I liked having both to jazz up my food and dunk my naan in.
Garlic Naan: Naan studded with garlic & cilantro. $3.95.
The garlic naan came wrapped in foil, but was stone cold when it arrived, even the second time.  The restaurant is only a few blocks away!  They clearly didn't transport the food in a heat bag.

The naan was very thin.  I prefer a puffier naan, with some char, but Ojan said he liked this style.

We ordered garlic naan, but I honestly didn't taste any garlic.  It did have cilantro.

This was totally unremarkable, and $3.95 was actually a bit pricy for a small, thin naan, particularly when compared to other places.  I probably wouldn't get the naan again, although, since I don't like rice, I really do usually require naan for my indian meals.
Saag Paneer: Cubes of homemade cheese sautéed with spinach & spice. $11.95.
My pick of dishes was saag paneer, since I adore paneer, and wanted a dish with some veggies too.  I've been on a spinach kick lately, which, of all my random obsessions, seems like a pretty healthy one, but I'm sure it won't last.  Anyway, paneer and greens was exactly what I wanted.

As you can probably guess, it was also lukewarm, but I heated it back up easily in the microwave, which didn't seem to alter the texture of the paneer.

The dish was actually quite good.  The chunks of paneer were decently sized, and there were a reasonable number of them.  The paneer wasn't rubbery, and was quite moist.  Above average paneer.

The saag was fairly fresh tasting, not too oily, although it was clearly not a light dish, I'm sure it had plenty of cream in it.

The part that impressed me was the spicing; it had a bit of kick to it, and small chunks of tomato and onion for additional flavor.

This wasn't the best saag paneer I'd had, but it was pretty solid, better than most.  I'd get it again.

$11.95 is a bit high compared to other restaurants in the area, but it was a decent portion (2 people could easily split this).
Kashmiri Chicken: Clay Oven roasted chicken cooked in butter sauce with spinach. $13.95.
Ojan's favorite dish at indian restaurants is butter chicken.  The North India menu didn't have butter chicken, but it had something we thought was going to be similar to butter chicken: Kashmiri chicken.  The description said it was cooked in a butter sauce, but it said it also had spinach.  We weren't entirely sure what to expect.

However, we weren't expecting this.  In fact, I thought that both the containers were the same, and that we just got two saag paneer, until we dug in and found chicken in one.  I still somewhat think this was chicken saagwala, not kashmiri chicken,  as it honestly tasted exactly the same as my paneer dish, just with chunks of chicken instead.

Anyway, since I don't like chicken, I didn't try the meat itself, but Ojan (and my mom who was visiting) both thought the chicken was flavorful and good, except ... loaded with cartilage and tiny bones.  They both wound up with a pile of rubble on the side of their plates from the bits they would bite into and crunch down on.  They commented that one or two pieces showing up in the mix was one thing, but this really was a remarkable amount of cartilage, to the point where it turned them off, no matter how good the flavor was.

And again, price of $13.95 seemed a bit high.
Kheer: Traditional Indian rice pudding. $3.50.
I think to apologize for the food being delivered at the wrong time, they added kheer to our order.  Since I'm a dessert girl, and a pudding girl in particular, this was very welcome.  In fact, I'd almost ordered it myself, except that I had a freezer full of ice cream I was hoping to put a dent in that night.

Sadly, this was not good rice pudding.  Short grained rice, a bit too al dente.  Really runny.  There were strange dark bits that seemed burnt stirred in.  The flavor was rather bitter.

I really, really didn't like this, and didn't even bother take a third bite (of course I took two, just to be sure ...).  Clearly, would not get again.
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