w/ Cumin Rice, Naan, Mango Lassi
Dish Score: 80
Overall Score: 80
- Presentation & Creativity: 12/20
- Portion Size & Nutritional Value: 6/10
- Ingredient Compatibility: 9/10
- Flavor, Taste, Texture, & Doneness: 36/40
- Service: 9/10
- Restaurant Appearance: 4/5
- Cost vs. Value: 4/5
When you live in an area for an extended period of time, you tend to gloss over the restaurants in your immediate vicinity. Either you go to the regular places you’ve gone to for the past decade or you branch out to the further reaches of town searching for new cuisine. Sometimes, you just have to look close to home and open your eyes to see what you’ve overlooked. For me, Desi Wok is one of those places, for one reason or another, I have glossed over. But not today.
Upon entering Desi Wok, I was taken aback. The restaurant is clean and welcoming with its orange, gold, and tan painted walls with black trim. The wall at the back of the restaurant is covered in mirrors giving the optical illusion the restaurant is twice its actual size. As I approached the counter to place my order, I was greeted with a warm welcome from the friendly staff. Deciding I was in a spicy mood, which honestly I frequently am, I went with the Paneer Vindaloo. Upon being asked how much heat I wanted the dish to have, I went with the hottest. That being said, I also ordered a Mango Lassi to tame the heat if need be.
Upon taking a seat, I took in the other customers: some older, some younger, some Indian, some not. All good signs pointing to a quality of food and service. With its Pan-Asian cuisine, there’s a little something for everyone. I mused at the local radio playing contemporary hits and though back to the restaurant’s tagline: Casual Asian Diner. Indeed. It works well.
About that time, the waitress brought me my meal. Visually, it was rather one tone. Red-orange sauce on a red-orange plate on a red-orange table. This directed my eye to the starches, which is what I started off with. The Naan was soft, fresh, and had a slight char on the bottom adding an additional element to the flavor of the bread. The cumin rice had a very mild seasoning and a dry, sticky texture on its own. However, once mixed in with the rest of the dish, the texture added a lot to the dish. The flavor all came from the sauce. It did have some heat, that built slowly in your mouth, but it was not overwhelming and was complimented by the green onions which added a burst of flavor. The potatoes were cooked perfectly, being tender enough to melt in your mouth, but not so tender it crumbled when a form was pressed into it. The paneer had a mild flavor to it and a good texture. Unfortunately, there was a bay leaf mixed in with my sauce, which I removed as soon as I noticed it.
While the Mango Lassi was intended to cool down the heat from the Vindaloo, I found it wasn’t necessary for my palate. It was, however, a nice addition to the dish and gave a contrast in flavors and was refreshing. Upon first taste, there’s an initial shock of yogurt for just a moment before transitioning to the sweet mango. The texture is thick, but still easy to suck through a straw.
Overall, I was very impressed with Desi Wok. The staff was polite and attentive, checking on me numerous times to see if I needed anything. The food was excellent, sans the bay leaf. The restaurant has a colorful interior and inviting atmosphere. After this eye-opening visit, it makes me wonder what other places I’ve glossed over. I’ll be sure to find out. I’ll also be sure to make another visit to Desi Wok in the near future.