Tag Archives: Indian food

Mumbai Chopstix Lunch Buffet

6 Feb

There’s some good shopping on Newbury Street, but when I thought of restaurants on the street, touristy and overpriced were the only words that came to mind. Due to these assumptions, I was surprised by a recent visit to Mumbai Chopstix.

Wading through four-foot-high snow piles, we made it to Mumbai Chopstix at 11:30am on a Friday. The Indo-Chinese fusion restaurant opened in April 2010 and I’ve been hearing mixed reviews ever since. Furthermore, after visiting The Dosa Factory (same owner) a few weeks ago, I was reminded that I should try it out! When we arrived there was no host, so when I saw someone in sweats come upstairs carrying place settings, I apologized for arriving early and asked what time we should come back. The quick response was “we’re open right now! Buffet or menu?” The whole situation was very confusing and unnecessarily rushed. I would have come back if they weren’t ready to open.

We began the meal with Calcutta-style hot and sour soup, which had a thick and sweet broth. The mushrooms and vegetables were delicious, but I ate them with chopsticks to avoid the broth.

A small plate of fried noodles and chickpeas was next. The server said this was a street food snack. It was tasty. We also had small salads from the buffet with a fresh-tasting oil and vinegar dressing.

In the buffet were six dishes, a combination of vegetarian and meat. The vegetable hakka noodles (similar to lo mein), vegetable manchurian (like mini veggie burgers in ginger and cilantro sauce), and “hawker-style” eggplant and tofu in garlic sauce were my favorites. Other dishes included Calcutta Szechwan chicken (terribly sweet, I could only taste sugar), a beef dish & standard a fried rice with vegetables. The selection was simple: I would have liked a few more unique dishes, along with at least one seafood dish. I would have also liked to see more fusion (most of the dishes seemed like standard Chinese food, maybe with the exception of the veggie manchurian).

Our server was very friendly, but became a bit too involved in the conversations my friend and I were having. It would have been fine if this was our third or fifth visit, but not when you’re serving to complete strangers. We also couldn’t find him when we were ready for the bill.

The interior was intimate and easy: Mumbai Chopstix feels like an awesomely-cool Brooklyn apartment. Food was mediocre. Service was oddly unprofessional. The room was empty until we left at 12:30pm.

We couldn’t find the cost of the buffet when we ordered (based on the entree prices, I expected early/mid-teens), but at $9 for a complete meal on Newbury, it’s difficult to be too critical. I would consider going again if I was shopping at lunch time with an out-of-towner, but the quality of the food and service would keep me from returning for dinner or with someone other than a close friend looking for a casual meal.

Mumbai Chopstix, 254 Newbury Street, Boston

Mumbai Chopstix on Urbanspoon

Dosas at (where else) the Dosa Factory

17 Jan

The Dosa Factory is easy to miss in all of the commotion of Central Square, particularly if you’re looking for a restaurant and not a storefront. Entering through the Mass Ave side, you’ll walk through a small, but well-stocked (and slightly overpriced) market to a small kitchen surrounded by ten tables between two casual rooms.

On a weekend evening it might be difficult for a party larger than four to find seating, but you should try your luck anyway. The flow of students and shoppers makes for a fun environment (sometimes it’s fun to pretend I’m still in college) and a henna artist was looking for clients the night we were there.

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Our crowded table

Dosas are huge, crispy crepes served with a variety of fillings (including vegetarian, chicken, seafood, and lamb). I ordered a masala dosa (potato and curry leaf spiced onions served with sambar and coconut chutney, $7.95), paneer pakora (fried cheese with three sauces, $3.95), and a mango lassi ($2.95). All were satisfying and inexpensive (I was so full, couldn’t finish the last third of my dosa).

The best way to describe the service is simple and efficient: you order and pay at the counter, find a seat if you can and eat in, or wait for your order and take out. They don’t go out of their way to be friendly, but they distribute food quickly and check in to be sure you have what you need.

On my list of items to try next time: gulab jamun (condensed milk and wheat balls soaked in syrup), saffron and pistachio milkshake (how can that not be amazing?), oh, and the huge list of chaat (road-side-style snacks).

Go by yourself, meet some friends, or bring home for take-out. The Dosa Factory has a great selection of difficult-to-find-in-Boston Indian street food and is conveniently located in Central Square (I may need to start taking a detour on my commute to work…).

Dosa Factory, 571 Mass Ave, Central Square, Cambridge, MA

Dosa Factory on Urbanspoon

What’s Ghee? (and other reasons I was afraid of cooking Indian food)

14 Jan

Garam masala, dal, ghee: all intimidating terms that once scared me out of trying to cook anything I enjoyed at an Indian restaurant. Even if I knew what these ingredients were, I didn’t know which to buy or how to put them together. With these fears, I paid $20 for sometimes good and sometimes mediocre dishes I could have made myself for a lot less and (maybe) better.

Last week I won a Boston Food Bloggers giveaway for a cooking class on Indian food from Boston Center for Adult Education. Winning anything is exciting – and food/travel prizes are my faves – so this was fun to look forward to. On Friday I made my way through wind, snow, and MBTA to the Around the World in $15 class. Instructor Priyanka Sancheti taught us how to make a mango lassi, chicken masala, and a simple veggie salad.

If you have absolutely no knowledge base and want to learn about a cuisine new to you (and particularly if this idea is super frightening), hands-on and in-person is the way to go. You’ll be able to take in scent of a spice combination, see the consistency of a sauce, and understand timing in a way that can’t be explained through written recipes.

With confidence from learning how to make chicken masala, I put together a curry the other night, no recipe! Over the next few weeks I’ll post some recipes from my experimentations.

So what is ghee? It’s just clarified butter, you can use it like oil or butter in cooking, but it has its own distinct flavor. See? More comfortable already!

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