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#254: Tandoori Bite

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I type this feeling incredibly full and with a loosened belt (truthfully I removed it entirely, haha).  The telltale sign of a visit to an Indian buffet.  This is Tandoori Bite, located on Baseline at Foothills.  A somewhat recent addition to Roseville’s large and always growing collection of Indian restaurants, they opened sometime over Summer.  They are situated on the opposite end of the building where Crawfish Factory lives.

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I walked in just after noon.  The place is quite large and there is a lot of open space from the entryway all the way back to the buffet and register area.  To the right is a largish grid of tables.  I was the only customer at the moment, though a couple people had just left if take out right as I arrived.  At first there was no-one to be seen but, seconds after the door shut, a woman appeared from the back and greeted me.  I gestured to the buffet line and she told me to go ahead and get started.  Buffet is served every day for lunch, although it is a few bucks more on the weekends ($12.95).  Their menu doesn’t say anything about it being served at dinner but I think I’ve seen them post about it on Facebook once or twice.

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Before setting my camera down at a table I asked if I could get a mango lassi and she said it would be extra, which I expected and said that would be fine.  Once back to grab a plate she asked what I wanted to drink (which I didn’t think much of at the time, figured it was more a question if I also wanted water) and I told her water is good.  She also asked if I wanted plain or garlic naan and I chose the latter.  Eventually I realized that she must have misheard my response about the lassi being extra because it was never brought out.  No big deal I guess, and she was on top of the water refills since I was downing it quickly throughout the meal.

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I went down the line and tried a little bit of nearly everything.  My first plate consisted of Fish Pakora (fish cubes dipped in spiced batter & deep fried), Vegetable Pakora (assorted vegetable fritters dipped in chickpea batter and deep fried), Rajma (not shown on their menu but Wikipedia says it consists of red kidney beans in a thick gravy with many whole spices), an item that was unlabeled but I am  pretty sure was the Chana Masala (garbanzo beans cooked with onion and tomatoes in house special spices) Saag (spiced creamy spinach) and finally Butter Chicken (boneless chicken cooked in a special sauce with a blend of tomatoes, butter & cream).

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The fish and vegetable pakoras were good, although they were a bit steamed and soft from being in their closed serving container for a while.  A busier buffet usually doesn’t have that problem since it rotates a lot quicker.  I definitely prefer a nice crispy pakora.  The vegetables had a lot of flavor to them with lots of spices and a hint of heat.  The naan was fresh with a bit of a crisp on the bottom and plenty of flavorful garlic on it.

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I had the rest of the items on a bed of colorful rice.  The Rajma was pretty heavy on the kidney bean flavor while the Chana Masala was a much creamier blend of the masala flavor and garbanzos and had a bit of a kick after a few bites.  Both were tasty though.  The saag is usually one of my favorites but usually only when it has paneer in it, which this one did not, so it was a little bland and boring.  Easily my favorite item of everything I had today was the butter chicken (I know, classic white guy Indian food choice).  It was intensely rich and flavorful, smooth and creamy with tender chunks of dark chicken.  A touch on the salty side, it was still amazing and I ended up getting seconds on my next plate.

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For my second plate I tried the Chicken Curry (skinless & boneless chicken cooked in a spiced curry sauce), Goat Curry (goat cooked in a spiced curry sauce), Haleem (lentils, barley mixed meat slowly cooked with authentic spices) and a drumstick of Tandoori Chicken (chicken marinated in a blend of yogurt and Indian spices).

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The chicken curry was probably my 2nd favorite item.  It was as flavorful as the butter chicken but less creamy.  The goat had bones so I had to take care to separate those out first.  I often skip goat curry on buffets and probably would here in the future as well.  It wasn’t bad, but the meat itself was a bit tough and slightly gamey.  The Tandoori Chicken drum was really good.  It wasn’t as overly bright red with coloring as many but had the flavor marinated in nicely and was very tender and had a good amount of meat on it.  The Haleem was something I had never seen or tried before.  It was unfortunately my least favorite item.  It seemed to taste like bitter squash.  The little jalapeño slice I got in a bite had a huge kick to it.

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Finally I headed back one last time for dessert.  I was excited to see that they had Gulab Jamun (deep fried cheese balls dipped in sugar syrup, served warm) and hot Chai Tea.  In addition they had something labeled as Cart Keer.  I didn’t see this on their menu and googling comes up with Carrot Kheer, which I guess is what this might have been, although it tasted to me more like sweet potato rather than carrot.  It was quite good.

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The Gulab Jamun was great.  I don’t know exactly how this is made and what kind of cheese it is.  I’ve always thought it tasted more like a soggy surgery donut than any kind of cheese.  The tea was incredibly hot but absolutely delicious once at a more reasonable temperature.  Not many Indian buffets have Chai tea or even desserts on their buffets, so to have both (and 2 desserts at that!) was really nice!

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Overall I was quite happy with this buffet.  Not everything was a hit, but that’s par for the course at just about every buffet, and there was plenty to enjoy.  The woman handling the dining room was very friendly, and as I had mentioned earlier refilled my water constantly (a pleasant change from the numerous Indian buffets I’ve sampled in the Rancho/Folsom areas).  I would definitely return here again.

Website: http://tandoori-bite.com

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AM19: Cafeteria 15L (SMF)

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I’m off and up out, but got to the airport early so here’s a quick post about Cafeteria 15L inside Terminal B of the Sacramento International Airport!

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Flying out of Terminal B allows some great food selection, including Burgers & Brew and Jacks Urban Eats.  Today was the first time I ever tried Cafeteria 15L though.  This is a satellite location of their downtown restaurant.

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I seated myself on the “patio” for maximum people watching potential.  I was greeted within a minute or two and offered a coffee.  They only have seven items on the breakfast side of the menu which include a waffle, a couple omelets, a breakfast sandwich and a breakfast burrito, which is what I ordered (egg, chorizo, potatoes and pepper jack cheese, served with salsa and guacamole)[$12.99].

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Prices are typical for the airport, so about 75% higher than they should be.  My coffee was piping hot and delicious.  The burrito arrived about 7 minutes after ordering it.  It was also hot and steaming.  There was a small amount of a blended salsa and fresh guacamole on the side.  The guacamole reminded me a bit of Jimboy’s guac.  Fresh, but with an extra flavor that I’ve never been able to put my finger on.  It is good though.

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Although this is not a huge burrito, it was packed tight with loads of eggs and chorizo.  The potatoes were not in a huge abundance, which was fine with me (less filler!).  The pepper jack was not very visible but I did taste its slight kick in most bites.  The eggs were perfectly fluffy and the chorizo savory, tender and rich in flavor.  This was easily one of the best things I’ve ever had here in the airport, and I will definitely be checking out more in Cafeteria 15L on future trips.

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#253: Old Port Lobster Shack

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Tonight I went to the new Old Port Lobster Shack.  They soft opened about three weeks ago near Mikuni and Century 14 on Eureka.  Soon they will have their full menu, but at the moment they don’t have beer or desserts (possibly a couple other items).  I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while.  I had thought this was actually a much more widespread business, but they only seem to have a few other locations; two in the bay area and one coming to Portland.

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I was joined by some family members a little after 5:15PM and we were one of the first customers for dinner.  The three-person staff were very friendly and greeted us right away.  The menu is on a chalk board to the let when you walk in.

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I have been curious about what the prices would be like.  My only experience with lobster rolls has been from various food trucks, and they tend to charge about $15-$17 for a small roll.  I was a little taken aback when I saw that their rolls were $24.75, but I had to see what it was all about here.  I’ve recently been hankering for some clam chowder, so I also ordered a cup of that [$5.75].  A bottle of Mexican Coke finished off my order [$2.50], bringing the total with tax to $36.28.  There are lots of less expensive items to choose from.  Pretty much everything with lobster (except the bisque) is going to set you back $25 though.

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We took a seat in the dining room and didn’t wait very long, less than 5 minutes, for our food to start coming out.  For the rolls there were two choices, Naked and Maine.  The Naked was just lobster with butter, served cold or warm with sides of mayo and warm butter.  The Maine was served cold, mixed with Hellmann’s mayo, green onions, salt & pepper.  Both were serve with fries and coleslaw.

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The slaw was fairly sweet and had some raisins mixed in.  I’m not really a coleslaw guy but I’ll usually eat it anyway.  I thought it was fine.  The fries were good, crisp and hot.  They didn’t need any salt or ketchup; a great fry in my book.  The lobster was served on a soft, buttered and toasted roll.  Based on memory, I would say there was about 50% more lobster on these than on the rolls I’ve had from trucks.  The naked roll was pretty straightforward.  I had the Maine roll and it was very good.  The mayo, very light amount of green onions and salt/pepper seasoning helped transform it into something a little more interesting and tasty.

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My cup of chowder came out in a literal cup.  It tasted pretty good, but unfortunately was not very hot.  The clams were small but plentiful, as were the  potatoes, which made it a somewhat smooth chowder.  I think if this were hot it would have been much better.

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The last item we had was a basket of fried shrimp [$13].  This also came with fries and coleslaw.  I think this was the absolute best value of everything we ordered.  It had a ton of giant shrimp that were delicious.  They had a light batter to them and it came with lemon slices which added some nice bright flavor to them.

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Admittedly, lobster is never particularly inexpensive.  Still, I find the price to be a big downside and tough to justify when you can get tons of great food for much less than I spent on my roll & chowder.  I’ll really have to be in the mood for lobster to return.  That said, the food was good (chowder temperature aside), I cannot deny that.  It’s worth a visit, even if it’s not going to be a place I expect to frequent.

Website: http://oplobster.com

Website is not up at the moment, so here is a scanned paper take out menu: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/12286/EatingThroughRoseville/OldPortLobsterShack_Menu.pdf

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