Surabhi Indian Cuisine (Bloomington, MN)
Interesting Indian restaurants used to be hard to find around town. There wasn't much of a local population to support the restaurants we did have, which tended to be hard to find and not very good. But times have changed, and the Twin Cities' Indian gets better and better. One of our favorites is Surabhi, in Bloomington just off the 98th street exit of 35W. The menu has so much to offer that dinner here is a virtual tour of Indian cooking.
Surabhi has all of the familiar Indian dishes like tandoor chicken and shrimp biryani. And these are good. They also serve kormas and masalas and vindaloos. Any of these can be made with lamb, chicken, shrimp or vegetables, but of course there's no beef option.
You'll find that even the spiciest vindaloos are not too wicked for an adventurous palate, and the milder dishes are mild indeed. We've tried many of these items over several visits, and while they tend to be made with too much cream for American palates, they don't disappoint. Palak paneer, aloo palak... experiment.
You can fill up on parathas, which are hot flaky breads served with, or stuffed with, spiced potatoes, or chick peas, or cheese. At two for $5.95, these are a great value and they're really delicious.
These dishes are all from North India: Muglai and Punjabi to be specific. But India is a huge country of many cultures, and the cuisine of the country is rich and diverse.
And what we especially appreciate is their selection of South Indian dishes. Surabhi offers a large selection of dosas. These are Indian crepes, made of rice flour and cooked with lentils and spices. They're served filled many choices, such as potato curry, spiced cooked vegetables, onions, and so on. We especially liked the mysore masala dosa, which is stuffed with onions, chilis, and hot carrot chutney.
Another South Indian food worth trying is the steamed rice cakes, called idli. Better yet, the combination of a filled dosa and two pieces of idli.
The entrees at Surabhi are available either a la carte or as part of a thali (or platter).That extra $3 buys you daal (yellow lentil curry), a vegetable and some spicy tamarind soup, raitha (spiced yogurt with vegetables), rice, papadums, poori or naan bread, sweet mango and hot carrot chutney, and a dessert. Order the same dish a la carte, and all you get is a choice of rice or naan.
And order a mango lassi with your meal. It's sort of an Indian smoothie made with fruit and yogurt. It's cool and refreshing, perfect for cutting the highly flavored food. Or try the chai. It's got a unmistakable homemade quality that we find so perfect after all the standard product one finds in coffee shops.
Surabhi has a lunch buffet seven days a week. The menu changes every day, and includes one or two meat options and a few vegetarian choices. You'll usually find some kind of dosas and idli. The buffet is a nice way to sample the rich depth of Surabhi's kitchen.
9818 Aldrich Ave S, Bloomington
Mon–Thu: 11am–2:30pm and 5pm–10pm
Fri–Sat: 11am–3pm and 5pm–10pm
Atmosphere: Very informal
Sound level: Only noisy if very crowded
Recommended dishes: Mysore masala dosa, baigan bartha
Prices: Entrees $9–$12
Children: No special menu for children