Having never been to an Indian restaurant and having a group of (awesome) Sri Lankan friends, it isn't hard to guess where I'd go to if I ever needed a restaurant suggestion. Or better still, someone to take me to one =] Since I'd taken my friend to an Asian restaurant (sushi train) last year, she decided to take me to try out Indian food, which is why our small group end up in front of Ambi's Indian Restaurant on a Monday night. Even if it's three quarters of a year after I took her out ;P We had pondered about whether or not to make a booking, but decided against it since there was another Indian eatery down the road if it was full. We needn't have worried though- we were the only ones there when we walked in!
We take a seat right in front of the display of Indian sweets, and slowly ponder over the menu. The menu is extensive and even my friends don't know a lot of the food on the menu. When the waiter arrives, ready to take our order, we're still slowly trying to decipher the menu and attempting to choose something. The waiter suggests we choose our drinks, and copying my friend, I order a mango lassi (we all end up ordering one =])
The mango lassi is sweet and surprisingly thick. Given that I love mangoes, and it's been too long since I've had one (or even anything mango flavoured), I loved it. Both the sweet and the cold also went well to cool the spiciness of the curries too!
The rice is ordered separately to the curries, something which I'm unused to, and we decide to order a saffron rice just to try it out. The saffron rice was...well, laughable. Despite never having saffron rice before, I do know that saffron is yellow, and I was pretty sure that saffron rice is meant completely yellow, and not just a splodge of yellow rice in a dish of plain rice. Nevertheless, it was fun to try, even if it mightn't have been worth the extra dollar it costed. Funnily enough, I also found bits and pieces of yellow rice in the plain rice, along with other funny spices which were in there in a way that made me uncertain whether it's there deliberately or not.....
Papdi Chaat $6.00
My friend orders the papdi chaat, one of her favourites. The thin, crispy wafer, made from the same deep fried pastry as the samosa pastry, covered in yoghurty sauce looks delicious. And, as my friend remarks, looks like an Indian version of nachos =] Although it appears on the menu as an appetiser, this serving does well to fill her up for the night. But then again, she's the one who was too full after eating two pieces of terriyaki chicken sushi when we took her to the sushi train...
Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani) $14.50
We order butter chicken, simply because it's a dish we're all familiar with- even me. Despite never having had butter chicken at a proper Indian restaurant I've tried authentic butter chicken a few times thanks to my friends, or rather their mothers at parties and get togethers. The butter chicken does not dissappoint, and the rich and flavourful sauce has us finishing this in no time. I find the chicken surprisingly tender, perhaps because they use chicken thigh instead of breast (I think) which makes me love it even more!
Chicken Tikka Masala $14.50
The menu states that we can choose how hot we would like the curries we order, so we ask for both curries to be mild because I can't stand hot very much. The Chicken Tikka Masala however, can only be medium-mild because the sauce base itself is mild from the spices used. Despite it being a slightly common Indian curry, I'd never heard of it before and my friend explains that it's similar to tandoori chicken- without the bones. Which sounds all good to me, only I'm a bit scared of the spiciness (I really don't take hot food well). The curry is quite different to the butter chicken- it's not as creamy, and has a strong tomato flavour. It is extremely flavourful, and although I have no idea what the spices used in it were, I can tell they used a lot in it :P As for the spiciness, I'm surprised that it isn't too spicy and eventhough my mouth slowly got hotter and hotter through the meal, it was bearable enough not to stop me from continuing to eat it! I personally preferred the butter chicken better, perhaps because of the spiciness, but I loved this too.
Our order for raita seemed to have dissappeared and it isn't before we've gotten through half our meal that we decided to enquire about it. Now I usually don't like mint, but I found this minty yoghurt sauce a nice accompaniment to the spicy curries.
It's funny how the curries were surprisingly filling, leaving no one with an appetite for dessert, so we finished and paid for the bill- after taking 15 minutes to figure out how to split the amount with everyone's $20 notes =P We ended up giving whatever couldn't be split as tips- which I think wasn't a bad idea as I thought both the food and service were pretty good =]