Wednesday, November 05, 2014

India Kitchen - Tustin

Last week, in celebration of Diwali, I ate at India Kitchen in Tustin, which was previously Traditions--a restaurant I reviewed long ago for The Weekly. I had their lunch buffet. It was great. But to be honest, if the place hadn't changed its name when new owners took it over, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

After the feast, I thought about why. Traditions was, after all, a Northern cuisine specialist, which rely on breads. India Kitchen now offered food from the entire subcontinent, even the Indian take on Chinese food. So why did it taste almost exactly the same?

I concluded that an Indian lunch buffet, no matter the kitchen's proclivities, must serve the same cast of characters. Red-tinged tandoori chicken. Fat samosas. Sludgy saag paneer. And of course, everyone's favorite: the chicken tikka masala, which is not actually Indian.

It must do all this because Indian buffets, especially around these parts, must cast the widest possible net to please the widest possible audience.

That's why the tikka masala--Great Britain's national dish and the Indian bastard child equivalent to Panda Express' Orange Chicken--had to be refilled by the kitchen more than once during my visit. And it tasted as gloriously creamy here at India Kitchen as it did at Traditions.

Still, there were standouts. The biryani was shotgunned with so much spices and herbs I had to spit out a few bay leaves. The sambar was a sweat-inducing, hellish chowder that I ate with the idli, puffy little life-rafts that soaked up the spicy soup like a loofah sponge.

But in the end, I left India Kitchen the same way I do most other Indian lunch buffets: overstuffed, happy, and my clothes reeking of curry.

India Kitchen
14131 Red Hill Ave
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 505-0300

Capital Noodle Bar - Irvine


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