Monday, March 28, 2005

India Cook House - Irvine

A visit to India Cook House, an Indian restaurant in Irvine, has been long overdue by me. After all, I drive past it on a daily basis, and I have heard a lot of good remarks about it on Chowhound.

We arrived on the early evening to an almost empty restaurant. The room was larger than I expected, with a dramatically lit white stone fountain on the far wall. A few cushy booths hugged one side of the restaurant, while square tables dressed with white cloths occupied the rest of the space.

We ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala ($11.95), which was described on the menu as "All white meat boneless chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, tandoored in clay oven, then blended in our delicious curry sauce" and the Shrimp Jalfrezi ($12.95), which was "juicy shrimp cooked with assorted vegetables". We also ordered Naan bread ($1.50).

The first thing that was brought out was the papadum. These, for those who've never had them, are thin crispy Indian crackers, which are served with a spicy mint chutney and a sweet mango chutney. The papadum were light and airy, perfect with a dab of the marmalade-like, sticky consistency of the mango chutney and the piquant heat of the mint chutney.

Then the dishes were served, all in shiny metal bowls. The Chicken Tikka Masala was fantastic. It is quite simply, the best that I have ever tasted. The sauce was the star of the dish. Deep reddish orange, it was creamy and rich. Eaten with rice, each spoonful of it filled my mouth with the faint sweetness of tomatoes, the silkiness of coconut milk (or was it yogurt), and the ever present tang of spices. It was not overly sharp or too bold. Just perfect. The chicken meat was really just playing second fiddle to the sauce.

The Naan, which is Indian flatbeard baked in a tandoor oven, was also surprisingly bubbly, crispy, and yet still supple. It's somewhere between a matzo cracker and a thin pizza dough crust. Perfect when dipped into the aforementioned Tikka Masala sauce.

The Shrimp Jalfrezi was also good, but not a favorite. The shrimp, completely stripped of the shell and tail were quite large and plump. They could have been cooked a little less, since some were a little rubbery. And the accompanying sauce was quite mild and was more akin to a vegetable soup that an actual sauce. The veggies (potatoes, carrots, zucchini) were a nice addition, rounding out our meal nicely, but I don't think you could order the Shrimp Jalfrezi all by itself and feel satisfied that you had experienced all the flavors the restaurant had to offer.

In any case, a great meal, and a stone's throw from home no less. By the time we were finished with our meal, the restaurant had filled up completely. Dozens of people, Indians included.

India Cook House
(949) 857-4858
14130 Culver Dr
Irvine, CA 92604

5 Comments:

At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lunch buffet is great and I believe it is offered over the weekend as well (not as crowded). The butter chicken and mushroom masala are very tasty and the buffet is very reasonably priced.

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We stopped by for dinner last Friday. We were waiting for ordered food for about 50 minutes. People at the neighbor table were waiting for about an hour. When we complained about service we received unethical comments about our nationality from waiters. When food eventually arrived it was good, but it does not taste the same tandoori as in other Indian restaurants, it tasted more like boiled chicken. At the end the abnoxious waiter brought the bill and said that we had to write a 20% tip. This was unbelievable. There are plenty of good India restaurants in the area, we definetely will never return to this one.

 
At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Raghavendra Masineni said...

Bad restaurant I have ever seen. I wish I will never come cross such a bad restaurant in my lifetime. Owner of the restaurant is Foul-mouthed (rude) person and behaves very badly with customers. In spite of my close friends bad comments about this restaurant I visited this place and experienced the same treatment. He treats customers like beggars. So it is your choice if you still want to have food here. I felt being hungry is much better than taking food in this restaurant. (

 
At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worst customer service.

 
At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Sanjay S. said...

You should visit Natraj Cuisine of India in Laguna Hills! They recently remodeled the place and as a 'regular' there, I have to say, the food has gotten even better as well!

Happy eating!

 

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