Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tandoor Cuisine of India - Orange

I wonder how many meals start with the phrase: "I have a coupon that's about to expire."

If I had to guess: Quite a few.

That's exactly what a co-worker proclaimed one lunch hour and on general principle, we could not let it go to waste -- we're in a recession after all.

Never mind that it was just a buck off of Tandoor Cuisine of India's already cheap $8.99 lunch buffet. Never mind that just the week before, I gorged at another Indian buffet.

No, this coupon must serve its intended purpose and it must do so, like, today!

Besides that, I hadn't been to Tandoor, and she had noted that it was the Indian restaurant of choice for all her Indian friends.

You had me at $7.99, I said. That's less than what they charge at the scummiest Vegas buffet or the ickiest Chinese all-you-can-eat. It's about the price of a half sandwich and cup 'o soup combo at Corner Bakery. My wallet hemorrhages $8 just by being in my pocket.

And it was chump change for what I discovered to be one of the most complete and well-prepared Indian lunch buffets in O.C. Though I haven't found an Indian lunch buffet that I disliked, this one exceeded my expectations.

Even before I sat to eat, I knew they were doing something right: the restaurant was packed, the busiest I've ever seen an Indian buffet get at midweek.

All present were stuffing their faces with rice and curry, returning for seconds, thirds.

I gravitated towards the vat of the ever-popular chicken tikka masala and ladled its addictive silken orange gravy over my rice until I drowned every grain. I gnashed my teeth on their unearthly red-tinged tandoori chicken, picking it down to the bone. I shoved forkful after forkful of saag into my gullet. I chomped on crisp pakoras, and tried to not kill my appetite on too many of their fat, densely-packed samosas. Every bite I slathered in either mint chutney or mango chutney or the simple burn of milled chili paste.

When my face felt like it was going to melt off a la Raiders of The Lost Ark, there was cooling raita and salads to calm things down again.

In the meantime, our waiters had this pathological need to continually replenish our basket of naan -- an obsession we were only too happy to oblige. The flat bread was served scorching hot and slicked with garlic butter.

And once I consumed my eight dollars worth of lunch, there was the dessert bar to milk, where there wasn't just one choice, there were four.

- Gulab jamun (fried bread pudding orbs steeped in honey syrup)

- Rasmalai (Indian cheesecake balls soaked in condensed milk syrup)

- Gajar halwa (sweetened shredded carrots with cheese, nuts and raisins)

- Kheer (spiced rice pudding)

As you might have expected, I'm already looking forward to the next expiring coupon.

Tandoor Cuisine of India‎
(714) 538-2234
1132 E Katella Ave
Orange, CA 92867

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Bai Plu Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar - Long Beach**

**Special Thanks to Monster Munching location scout Cecile for the tip on Bai Plu.

20 Comments:

At 7:36 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Oh WOW! The food doesn't just look great; your elaborate descriptions and awesome vocabulary make me feel like I am eating it already. Mmm.

I agree with the meal start phrase! We recently did that too for a restaurant we visited.

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

last time i had indian foot buffet, i created a shit storm in the toilet. oh yeah, stomach cramps too!

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cont. never again!

 
At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Marvin said...

There's more shame in letting a coupon go to waste than using it, I say. I've got a wallet full of two free tacos coupons at JITB--that's a free lunch!

I wish my wife liked Indian food, I don't get enough of it.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger christoofat said...

Hey "Anon" thanks so much for stopping by and "sharing"..

I've come to realize that going the buffet route is the only way to eat Indian food, at least for me.It just tastes so much better "all together", plus you get so many different flavors/textures to sample from one plate! And having the fresh hot naan brought to you (they do it similarly over at Indian Cuisine too) is icing on the cake.Or...something comparably yummy.

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger polar said...

Hey MM,

Again, a place I will be bookmarking for a new venture. (Did I ever tell you that I've been hooked on Cafe Hiro and now I crave it every week? Damn you~!)

Have you tried Guru Palace? Its in Tustim, off the 55 fwy and McFadden. Their buffet is $7.95 and they serve garlic naan upon request (included).

 
At 10:40 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

EatTravelEat,

Thanks for the nice words! The only thing I regret is the fact that I don't get coupons for Tandoor in those usual mailbox coupon books. But the place is worth the extra buck.

Anon,

Alllllrighhhty then. Gooood mornin'!

Marvin,

Those JITB tacos are manna from heaven, as my colleague Gustavo puts it. I don't know what's in 'em, and I probably shouldn't know, I just know they're goooooooooood.

Christoofat,

Amen on Anonymous...and amen on Indian buffets...that's the only way to do Indian. No sense limiting one self on two dishes when you can have ALL OF THEM!

Polar,

I haven't tried Guru. Sounds like my kind of place if their lunch buffet is $7.95 even without a coupon. And Cafe Hiro is the shiznit, ain't it? I've already got my reservations for this Valentine's Day. Special menu sort of like the Christmas one...at least that's what I'm hoping!

 
At 12:46 AM, Blogger Passionate Eater said...

I was going to leave a relevant comment, and then I read your response to Anonymous! Any meaningful thoughts completely evaporated from my head.

Hilarious response Elmo!

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger GRAVITAS said...

Although it's not a buffet, and is just a mere hole in the wall, I'm glad not too many have discovered my personal favorite of the past 15 years, Taste of India (Magnolia/Warner).

 
At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

these indian buffet places serve leftovers from the day before or the day before the day before.
why do you think they're so cheap?
they buy in huge bulk, cook it once, and leave it out there for a week. they eliminate the cost of a daily chef.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger NP said...

Tandoor Cuisine is a place we've used for catering events. They are really good.

I will agree that a lot of places here in the US have TERRIBLE Indian food, but there are a few bright places.

The logic of most Indian restaurants is to hire people who have NO idea what they are cooking or doing. Throw any spices in hence - the issues a few hours after the meal.

Remember: Most people 30 years ago had "stomach issues" from eating Mexican food. Indian food here in the US is just in its infancy. It is the most popular food in England (bet some didn't know that), but it also took 25 years for that to happen and for extraordinary venues with good food to show up. In the 70's when I grew up in England the Indian restaurants were like how they are here - bog standard decor, medicore food. Go to England now and it's quite different.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger melissa said...

Indian is the cuisine I have eaten the least of that I actually WANT to explore. A buffet would work really well for me in that regard so I could try a little of everything. It's not like I don't have a few places right nearby in Tustin.

I don't think I have ever used a coupon at a restaurant. Not that I wouldn't, not at all, I just don't recall ever doing it.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

P.E.,

Yup leave it to comments on bowel movements to completely derail any food related thought. Still, I found it rather funny.

Gravitas,

Well thanks for sharing! If it's that consistent, I'll give it a shot even it isn't a buffet.

Anon,

Hey, you're not the same dude with the gastrointestinal issues are you? If so, I think you may have diagnosed your own malady!

Me, I fare fine at these places. You should see the hole-in-the-walls I've eaten at in places like Indonesia. It'll make these O.C. Indian restaurateurs cower and suck their thumbs in a corner.

NP,

I guess I've been lucky. I haven't had one bad experience at an Indian place...maybe a too chewy piece of meat here, a not-so-fresh cube of cheese there, but generally not anywhere as scary or disappointing as some Chinese buffets I've seen out there. I'm not going to mention names, but I went to one in Santa Ana that still gives me nightmares.

Melissa,

Tustin is Indian central! I've not tried Laxmi, but I want to, and India Sweets and Spices is alright for vegetarian. And of course: Haveli! They have coupons in the Clipper Magazine all the time.

 
At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Cynthia said...

I was just here last Friday for lunch with a bunch of coworkers! My favorite was the chicken curry and tandoori chicken. The fried balls soaked in condensed milk was also yummy.

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Juliet said...

My mouth watered just reading that! Indian food is one of those things that, when I crave it, I HAVE to have it! Thanks to you, I'll be obsessing about it until I get some.

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger melissa said...

Yep yep!

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Cynthia,

Love those things...probably my fave next to the gulab jamun. The carrots are okay, but to me carrots = vegetable, never dessert! HAHA!

Juliet,

That's my job! Or hobby, when it comes to this blog.

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger Just Spotted said...

can't wait to try it out! i LOVE indian!

xoxo, K

 
At 7:46 AM, Blogger joanh said...

Your post makes me want to eat Indian food tomorrow! Though in Taipei they do buffets on the weekend rather than the weekdays..

random question- do you keep your Dining Out Restaurant list on the sidebar updated? It's hard to do as we get more and more reviews, or are those your faves?

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

J.S.

This is one of the best! At least in my book (which contains 4 other Indian places that pale in comparison).

Joanh,

I do try to keep the Dining Out section updated, but I've been getting lazy lately. I think I'm due. It's been at least three months since I added the newer reviews to it. Thanks for the reminder!

 

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