Best of India (St. Louis Park)

By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Star Tribune West
December 13, 2006

Can we have a better term than "ethnic restaurant"?

We know what it means: immigrant food from someplace that it isn't here. Italian was mainstreamed in the 1950s, and Mexican a couple of decades later, but we tend to lump every other cuisine into a broad category called "ethnic," as if injera and pita and tortilla were similar enough to be interchangeable. They're not, of course.

We especially like Indian food, because we can taste combinations we can't get at Perkins or Chili's. The spices are blended and complex, and intense flavor doesn't necessarily mean it's too hot. It's interesting without being inaccessible.

Best of India is a pleasant example of this kind of cooking: the common array of North Indian dishes, competently done.

We liked the lamb rogan josh, which is yogurt-marinated lamb in a tomato and garlic sauce.

If you want something hot, order the hot and sour vindaloo sauce; lamb is the traditional protein for this dish. Another tasty dish is the green masala, a sauce of tomatoes, onion and spinach. This is traditionally spicy as well.

For a milder palate, the palak is another creamy spinach preparation we liked.

We also liked the paneer makhani. Paneer is a traditional Indian cheese, and Best of India has some of the freshest and tastiest paneer we've had in the Twin Cities. The sauce is mild and creamy, so the cheese really stands out.

Less interesting are the biryani dishes. These are all served with spiced basmati rice. We don't mean to imply that you shouldn't order one, but they're more expensive and less interesting than the rest of the menu.

Same with the tandoori dishes. They're fine, but you can do better elsewhere on the menu.

The only clunker we found on the entire menu is the dhansak. This is a lentil sauce, and you can order it with chicken, beef, lamb or mixed vegetables. We found it to be mealy and not very flavorful.

You can order anything on the menu as mild, medium or spicy. Everything we ordered medium came mild, and everything we ordered hot came medium. If you want a spicy dish -- not authentically Indian spicy, but on the order of Taco Bell "Fire" hot sauce packets -- ask for "hotter than hot" or "Indian hot."

Don't forget bread. Best of India serves a variety of flatbreads, all cooked in its tandoori oven and perfect for sopping up sauces. We recommend the garlic nan or the onion culcha, although the plain nan is good as well. And if you want something more interesting, order the paratha: whole wheat bread stuffed with cauliflower or potatoes and peas.

There is a selection of appetizers. Indian appetizers are generally fried, and these are all OK. Order the paneer pokara because the cheese is so good. We really liked the lentil soup, too.

All in all, Best of India is a fine family-run Indian restaurant in the Texatonka strip mall. And, like most Indian restaurants around town, they have a nicely priced lunch buffet.

Best of India

Where: 8120 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park
Contact: 952-935-2320 or www.bestofindiausa.com/
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday;
11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and
5-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Service: Friendly but slow
Sound level: Not too loud
Recommended dishes: Fish green masala, paneer makhani, lamb vindaloo
Prices: Entrees $12–$17
Children: No special children's menu

earlier review: Nalapak (Columbia Heights, MN)
later review: Renegades Bar & Grill (Burnsville, MN)
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