Seattle: We ate a lot of meals at India Bistro, which at least at the time was I think the best deal for Indian food in town. I seem to recall dishes being something like $7 each in 2003 and 2004. Cedars was another favorite — it was always packed, but service was super fast and you couldn’t take a sip of water without your glass being filled immediately afterwards.
Eureka: Luckily, the only Indian restaurant in town was really good. Samraat is one of a few places in Eureka I miss (along with burritos from Rita’s Tacqueria and the fries and beer at Lost Coast Brewery). Super-delicious spicy dishes — the chicken tikka masala and lamb vindaloo, our staples, never disappointed.
Shaoxing: We’ve been to a couple of local Indian places, but our favorite is Punjabi, which, I was just surprised to learn, is part of a chain of Indian restaurants in China that includes locations in Beijing and Shanghai. Usually there are no more than one or two parties dining there when we go in. The food is top-notch — every dish we’ve tried has been great, except for one mutton* dish that was too chewy — and the service is excellent. The mango lassi and masala tea are great, drinks-wise.
This place has a tendency to be quiet, and the waitstaff usually look really bored — except for last night, that is. We were hosting a visitor to Shaoxing via the Couchsurfing project (a website that connects travelers looking for places to stay), and the other two parties in the restaurant were a Punjabi couple from Canada and another group of Chinese and Indians– maybe business partners? The two Indian guys asked that the volume on the TV that plays Hindi pop videos be turned up to unreasonably loud levels, and that tables be moved out of the way, and proceeded to dance. This was amazing and hilarious, especially because the most enthusiastic was a very paunchy, mustachioed, balding, middle-aged man who danced like a coy Bollywood starlet. The highlight of the evening was either:
a) When the aforementioned man danced with a genuine glass full of beer balanced on his head.
b) When the head waiter, a guy who is normally really quiet and shy, unleashed his impressive dancing skills.
c) When we, along with everyone else in the place, were inevitably peer-pressured into joining the dance party, to cries of “come on! it doesn’t matter! let’s just dance and have a good time!” Which we did.
*Every place in China calls it “mutton” in English instead of “lamb.” Does this truly mean we are eating the older sheep or is it just a translation thing?