Friday, February 17, 2012


Many years ago I ate at Radhika a couple of times when it was on Shopper's Lane in Pasadena (where The Counter currently stands). I thought that overall it was the best Indian restaurant in town, though I went to the Old Town Indian restaurants much more frequently. Then it closed and disappeared for a bit, reopening a year and a half ago on Mission Street in South Pasadena.

The other night, my parents invited Elizabeth and I to join them for dinner. We thought about going to Shogun but they were booked pretty solid; the only reservations were at 5 or 9:30. My brother and his friend Nick came along, too, and my brother suggested trying Radhika.

We sat at a table for six in the corner of the restaurant. It was very busy that night - South Pasadena's Art Walk was going on right outside on the street - but it was not too unpleasant. The noise level never got uncomfortably high and, though the tables were packed tightly together, it wasn't terrible. (The servers did an impressive job of maneuvering between the tables - perhaps they're used to it like this.)

The Gold Line tracks run by right outside the window.

The menu is relatively compact when compared with other Indian restaurants at which I've dined lately, the kind of places with menus that go on for several pages. Radhika's menu is front and back and not repetitive.

I've had all of these before, and knew what I wanted this evening. (Actually, I only wanted water, but when my parents announced that they were going to split a 650ml bottle of beer, Elizabeth suggested that we do the same.)

My parents shared a Taj Mahal, Elizabeth and I shared a Flying Horse, and Travis and Nick each had a Xingu, a Brazilian lager. 

I had suggested ordering two baskets of pappadams and the chutney sampler. The first basket came out in just a minute; we had to wait a few more minutes for the other basket and the chutneys. I liked all of them: the spicy one on the left, the sweet, tangy one in the middle, and the yogurt chutney on the right. (The favorite of mine was the middle, but I'm not sure anyone else really liked it.)

I thought I'd heard my brother order an appetizer and when I inquired what, he told me "vegetable tempura." I thought that was a joke; I'm not sure I've ever heard something referred to as "tempura" before at an Indian restaurant... but sure enough there it was on the menu. And he gave me a piece. It was delicious, as good as any pakora I have eaten in the last year.

Garlic naan is as necessary to me when it comes to Indian food as hot mustard is with spring rolls rolls or cilantro on carnitas. We placed two orders. I'm not sure if my dad had eaten garlic naan before, but he loved the intense garlic flavor of it almost as much as I do.

My dad ordered the "Lamb Shank Kashmiri" - spiced with asofoetida (a spice that is charmingly known as "Devil's Dung"), cinnamon, fennel and dry ginger.

"How spicy is that?" my dad asked the waiter.

"Not very spicy, maybe only a 4 out of 10."

"Could you make it like a 1 out of 10?"

My dad liked the lamb fine although, predictably, he said he thought it was still too spicy.

My brother and I both ordered the chicken vindaloo. The menu describes it as being cooked in a "fiery red hot" curry sauce. The sauce was wonderful, full of spice, but it wasn't really very hot. Regardless, it was delicious. The chicken and potatoes were tender and, as I mentioned, the spices were plentiful and tasty.

My mom had the lamb vindaloo, which she enjoyed. She offered me some but I declined.

Elizabeth and Nick both had chicken tikka masala. They liked it - as did I, I had several pieces of Elizabeth's - but we all wished it had been a little spicier.

I liked Radhika, but I did not love it, and I certainly did not enjoy it as much as I did at the old location. The prices are a little on the high side and the portions are not large enough to share family-style. I would go back with Elizabeth if it were just the two of us, but I would never again go with a group larger than four. Those kind of dinners will be at Mezbaan, which has not only been my favorite Indian restaurant for group dinners in Pasadena, but my favorite restaurant of any kind.

1 comment:

Tony said...

I haven't had Indian food in so long, and now all I want is to go to town on a basket of naan!