100 Best Restaurants 2008: Bombay Indian Restaurant

No. 81: Bombay Indian Restaurant

Cuisine: The predictable menu—tandoori chicken, lamb vindaloo, saag paneer (creamed spinach with cheese)—scarcely hints at the complex richness of the cooking. Some of the area’s best curries are a reminder that spicy means much more than heat.

Mood: White Oak Shopping Center is a strip mall, and the staff’s formal but curt demeanor could prompt you to join the takeout crowd. But then you’d miss out on the crisp pappadam with the electric dipping sauces and the joy of tearing into a puffy nan fresh from the tandoor.

Best for: Diners who need reminding that going out for Indian can be as good as sitting down to white-tablecloth French.

Best dishes: Crisp, puffy samosas; chicken jalfrezi, which sounds uninspiring on the menu (“sweet and sour sauce, onions, and bell pepper”) but excels on the plate; lamb korma (with almonds and cashews); yellow dal; breads from the tandoor; kheer (rice pudding). Goat lovers will find nirvana with chef Anthony Binod’s goat curry, and don’t miss the bhindi masala, a dish that gives okra a good name.

Insider tips: The restaurant does a brisk lunch business thanks to the all-you-can-eat buffet, but dinner is when the kitchen shines. Diners from nearby retirement communities descend on the place early—space begins to clear around 7 pm. Excellent as the curries are, the fish curries are the kitchen’s weak spot. And ignore the generic wine list; the beers are best.

Service:•

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.