Monday, March 31, 2014

Revisiting Indiya - March Restaurant Week : Collingswood, NJ

Revisiting Indiya - March Restaurant Week : Collingswood, NJ 
Welp, I'm a bad foodie blogger. Friday night had I planned on reviewing the Table 8 Bistro in Collingswood, but I didn't make a reservation. I always saw empty tables when I walked by, the restaurant isn't visible from the main street, and they don't have a website, so I just assumed I could get a table. I was wrong, so I made a reservation for dinner Sunday night and I walked back to Indiya where I was seated right away.
(I could have made a reservation for later Friday night, but I was already meeting friends. I also could have gone Saturday, but I didn't want to eat two huge dinners in a row. I figured Sunday was my best bet.)
Normally, if I couldn't get a table I would have just gone home and eaten something there, since all of these restaurant meals are rather pricey, but we were meeting friends for dinner and had already planned on eating out together in Collingswood. Since neither of our friends had ever had Indian food before, and I had such a great experience last weekend, we decided to revisit Indiya.

Indiya's restaurant week menu features a 3-course meal for $22 a person, so it's the lowest priced meal offered in the entire event. (All of the other participating restaurants are $30+ per person.) The food is well priced, you get a ton of it, and the restaurant has a lovely atmosphere with a very attentive staff. What better way to introduce people to Indian food for the first time?
This time I ordered: 
  • Crispy Lassuni Gobi (Cauliflower)- Crispy cauliflower tossed in a tangy garlic sauce  (V)(GF)
  • Garlic Naan- (Which is a side dish that is not from the restaurant week menu.)
  • Shrimp Makhani- Shrimp simmered in tomato honey sauce and fresh ginger (GF)
  • Pistachio Kulfi with Poached Blueberries- An Indian ice cream served with poached blueberries flavored with crème-de-cassis (GF)
And my boyfriend ordered:
  • Tofu Lettuce Wraps- Grilled tofu tossed with veggies, spices, and cashew nuts. (V) (GF)
  • Hyderabad Lamb Achari- ATender Lamb cooked in a tantalizing pickle masala laced with fennel, mustard seeds & ginger. (GF)
  • Pistachio Kulfi with Poached Blueberries- An Indian ice cream served with poached blueberries flavored with crème-de-cassis (GF)
We both picked the same dessert that I reviewed last Sunday because it was just that good. I think the combination of warm berries with the cool ice cream is a fantastic way to end your meal. Since I have already photographed and reviewed it, we're going to focus on the new items we tried.

This time I started with one of Indiya's best selling dishes, the Crispy Lassuni Gobi. There's no need to adjust your screen, and I did not alter the coloring in anyway, this stuff is really that vibrant red color. At first  I was worried I had picked another dish that would be too hot for me to handle, but these cauliflower were absolutely incredible. I have no idea how they are cooked, I am assuming they are fried, but the texture is almost exactly like a boneless chicken wing. The outside "skin" was crispy, and covered in a tangy garlic sauce, while the inside  remained moist and "meaty."

I can honestly say I have never had a vegetarian dish that was this close to recreating the texture of a chicken wings, and I doubt that was even the intention of this dish. These little cauliflower are tangy, a little spicy, and very garlic-y. It's no wonder that this is a best seller. Vegetarian or not, everyone should try this dish. I know I will be ordering more of it in the future. (This also makes me want to try making the cauliflower buffalo wing recipe I have seen on Pinterest lately.)

Along with our appetizers, I ordered a basket of garlic naan. This was a side item that I always order from IndeBlue, so I wanted to see how Indiya's version would compare.
Although both IndeBlue and Indiya serve garlic naan, the two breads are slightly different. The garlic naan at IndeBlue, that I have eaten maybe 20 times in the last two years, has a stronger garlic flavoring, but once and a while it can have a rubbery texture. The naan I had at Indiya had less minced garlic, but the texture was a lot lighter and fluffier. I've only had Indiya's naan once, so I have no idea how consistent it is, but I think both restaurants have their strong points when it comes to this delicious side dish.

Lastly, my boyfriend and I decided to splurge , so we each picked a specialty entrée. On the restaurant week menu there are two items that are an addition three dollars, he and I each picked one.

I picked the Shrimp Makhani, while he chose the Hyderabad Lamb Achari. Both dishes are served the same way as the curry I reviewed previously, which is with several heavy silver-toned metal bowls on a large silver kidney bean-shaped platter. The sauce for this dish wasn't as spicy as the chicken curry, due to being sweetened with honey, but it was really creamy and it paired very nicely with the shrimp and Basmati rice.

Unlike the shrimp dish that I reviewed at Akira, these were tender and cooked very well. The only little issue that I ran into was that the tails were still attached, so I just bit my tails off as I ate. (Although I do know people who eat their shrimp tails and all.) 
This was my second time eating at Indiya, and it was just as great as my first visit. My boyfriend and I really enjoyed our meals and, out of the three restaurants we visited this week, we both ranked Indiya as number one. If you're in NJ, and your curious about Indian food (or you're already a fan), I strongly recommend visiting Indiya in Collingswood.
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