By Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor
FOR: INDIAN BY THE NUMBERS
11725 Lee Highway, Suite A15, Fairfax; 703-218-4182; www.saravanapalace.com
If there is a commonality to dining experiences in Northern Virginia, it’s the foreign menu. The whole wide world planted restaurants here, and it is our duty to explore.
Saravana brings dishes from north and south India, labeling as such, but more, takes a cue from our Google-analytical times and helps diners discover the stats on dishes. The rasa vada is hot, noted with a chili icon, but doesn’t rank in the top four spiciest dishes on the menu; the top spot goes to Indo-Chinese chili paneer. Other categories included “delicacies acclaimed in magazine reviews” and “most filling dishes.” This detailed information can keep orders with the masses, or force menu exploration.
The rasa vada is like an Indian version of matzah ball soup: the ball is doughnut shaped and tastes like compressed grits. Two doughnuts (actually fried lentils) sit in a spicy, almost clear red broth, that is both fiery and comforting.
A Southern Indian thali offers a range of flavors and textures: potatoes in a light coconut broth, eggplants smashed into a nutty paste and a thick yogurt to smother it all. Desserts included in this all-inclusive tray of tiny metal tins: donut holes chilling in oily sweetness.
Between courses, or bites, entertainment is in the form of a large screen projecting Indian music videos: women with eyes rimmed in dark liner, men hopelessly vying for attention.