Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Nawab Indian Cuisine - Military Circle, Norfolk
I have dined on and off at Nawab since I was in high school (yes, a good while ago). My mom took me, probably kicking and screaming, the first time, but I was quickly hooked. Three items caused this addiction to Indian cuisine; Basmati rice, Naan Bread and Chicken Tikka Masala. As a youngster, I began with mild seasoning but evolved to one that enjoys the 'Indian hot' level in my elder years. The Kachumber Salad, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, is a good starter as well as the Vegetable Pakora, vegetables fried in lentil flour (while it is fried, it has to be better because the flour is made with lentils eh?). Indian restaurants usually have an assorted appetizer selection as well that gives you a few things to try - always a good idea if you are a virgin. Naan bread...one word, fantastic. Freshly baked in a Tandoor oven, Naan is prepared in a variety of ways. Plain white Naan is delicious, but they also offer it stuffed with anything from cheese, to potatoes to sweet coconut and cherries. I cannot say how much I enjoy this bread. When dining not from the buffet, I order the Chicken Tikka Masala mentioned above. My mom and I used to fight because I told her she was not allowed to order 'my' dish. I think we still bicker about this come to think of it, but at least it’s a mild bickering. Tikka Masala is worth fighting for, a spiced tomato and cream sauce and what is better than that? I enjoy the dish hot, hot, but try mild if you are easing yourself into a new cuisine. All entrees are served with the traditional Basmati rice which is flavored with saffron. I do not eat a lot of plain rice, but this rice has such flavor that I can never pass it up. It is a wonderful mix of flavors and goes well with any Indian dish. I have also enjoyed the Vegetable Masala on occasion. To balance a hot dish, try some Raita, a refreshing homemade yogurt with grated cucumbers and cumin on the pallet. I also recommend a Lassi, which is a yogurt shake flavored with rose water (a version of 'plain') or mango. It is light but sweet and a great ending to a possibly hot meal. Kulfi is another good dessert choice. Plain or mango, this Indian ice cream will cool the pallet down.
This might be a surprise, but I will eat an Indian buffet. There is no other buffet that passes these lips, but I make an exception for Indian. It is a great way to try different menu items of which you may be unsure. Laine and I decided to venture to the Norfolk Nawab buffet last week. Both of us had been there before, but too much time has slipped away since our last visit. There is always a salad selection with some traditional Indian accompaniments, the entree items and a dessert. For our visit, the line contained Tandoor chicken, a chicken and vegetable stir-fry, lamb, Vegetable Pakora, a lentil dish, a few vegetables choices, Naan bread and dessert. I chose the Eggplant Bhartha, which is baked in a clay oven then mashed and sautéed with garlic, onions, tomatoes and spices, some of the vegetables from the stir-fry, a dish similar to Vegetable Masala, peas and mushrooms in a tomato and cream sauce and Naan Bread. Dessert was eggless custard, but I was pretty full and had to pass. The food was excellent, but I hate to say, the service was not so much. In the past, the staff has always bent over backwards but I wonder if the buffet is such a hoopla meal for the restaurant that they are scurrying about too much to be attentive. The buffet is pretty much self-serve but getting refills on drinks is still done by the waiter and it was a challenge that day. I still recommend Nawab and the buffet if you are a first-timer trying Indian cuisine. You will be able to try more than a few selections and be prepped to come for the non-buffet meal. If you are a pro, go to dinner. The service is better.
I have dined at both the Norfolk and Virginia Beach locations and have had great good at both.
Nawab is located at Military Circle in Norfolk, at Hilltop in Virginia Beach, in Oyster Point Square in Newport News and in the Monticello Shopping Center in Williamsburg. All locations serve lunch and dinner daily with a lunch buffet in addition to the lunch menu.
Like Alex, I have been dining at Nawab in both Virginia Beach and Norfolk for many years. When I lived at the Beach I was a frequent user of the Take Out Taxi a great service which delivers orders from select restaurants. Nawab was my top choice. The Norfolk location, formerly Dawat (not sure what that was all about) is back to Nawab again and serving up their standard lunch buffet. The restaurant had a good sized crowd when Alex and I visited last Thursday. The inside has been renovated since my last time there, and had a nice, modern appeal.
Thank goodness Alex was on point that day; because there is no way I would be able to recite the dishes, much less the ingredients as she did. Kudos Alex! I agree that the food was all good. We took along two co-workers who were new to Indian cuisine and they both liked it too. I think a common misconception about Indian food is that it is very spicy and hot. Not true. It can be, but like most spicy cuisines from other countries, it gets taken down a notch or two when being served to our tender American palates. However, if you want it fully loaded, most restaurants will gladly oblige.
I enjoyed my meal and would certainly return, in spite of the lousy service. I do not like dirty dishes piling up on the table while I am eating. Even in a non-buffet environment, when a plate is empty, I want it gone. Some of the food had a little kick to it, and I was hitting the diet coke hard. I was literally chasing the waiter as he was heading back to the kitchen, desperately trying to get his attention for a refill. As he hit the door, he finally turned around to speak to me. He was neither apologetic nor interested. Sir, do not make me get up out of my seat and hunt you down for service!
Food – 8
Service – 0
The restaurant reviewed is located at:
888 N. Military Highway
Norfolk, VA 23502