Background: Two years ago, Jasmine and Vineet Talwar took over a defunct Indian restaurant, renovated and reopened under the same name. Their Indo-Chinese menu includes familiar Indian fare plus Hakka-style Chinese dishes, a spicy take on traditional Chinese, flavored by coriander, chiles and curries. The style of cooking is named for the Hakka people, a group of Northern Chinese who migrated to South China in the 13th century.
Ambience: What the restaurant lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for with its food. All of the tables and booths are covered with glass over linen tablecloths.
Starters: Photographs of the menu items made us want one of everything. Samosa chaat ($4.99), cooked to golden brown until the delicate dough is crisp and flaky, is accompanied by spiced chickpeas mixed with onions. Or dig right into an overflowing basket of delicious shrimp pakoras ($9.99) — fried fritters prepared from chickpea batter flecked with spices and laced with tiny bits of eggplant, onions and moist shrimp.
Entrees: Tandoori chicken ($9.99) has a scrumptious charred exterior seasoned to build waves of spices. Tandoori shrimp ($11.99) is just as divine. Dal targa ($9.99) uses yellow lentils that keep their shape yet are remarkably creamy with flavor from onions and bold spicing. Tilapia is the kitchen's fish of choice for fish curry served in a luscious thick tomato based sauce ($10.99). Mutton Karahi Gosht ($11.99) is a delightful dish of bone-in goat simmered with tomatoes, chilies, ginger and garlic until the meat slips easily from the bone. From the Hakka portion of the menu, chilli chicken ($10.99) has enough heat to live up to its name. The tender morsels of boneless chicken are stir-fried just before being merged into a green pepper and onion sauce. All of the chow mein dishes are terrific, but don't expect the usual Chinese restaurant stuff. The Hakka version is made with soft spaghetti-like, heavily spiced noodles. They're available with chicken, shrimp or vegetables ($9.99-$11.99). No meal is complete without piping hot tandoori-baked Indian naan ($1.75-$2.99).
Sweet!: First rate ras malai ($3.99) is made with homemade Indian cottage cheese soaked in milk syrup with a sprinkling of pistachios. But cream of wheat halwa ($3.99), an Indian pudding with comfort food qualities, is still on my mind.
Service: Personable servers graciously guide you through their menu if you're experimenting with unfamiliar dishes.
Insider's tip: Thali-style lunch ($7.99) is served noon-3 p.m. weekdays. Thali is a universal vegetarian Indian concept centered on rice and bread served with curries and chutneys for dipping. The all-day weekend buffet is $12.99.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun