India House is the latest entrant in Folsom’s Indian dining scene. They opened in late January in the Broadstone Marketplace, at the intersection of East Bidwell and Broadstone Pkwy (a few blocks northwest of Hwy 50). They offer buffets daily for lunch ($7.99) and – a first for Folsom Indian restaurants – dinner ($9.99). Both buffets include soda fountain drinks in the price. Also available are a typical selection of menu entrées. The entrée selections include vegetarian ($8.95), chicken ($9.95), and lamb ($10.95) selections, as well as a few special items ($9.95 – $14.95). Entrees may be ordered a la carte, or as a dinner (includes rice and Naan for $3.00 more). Price-wise India House is in the mid-range for Folsom Indian eateries; it seems to be slightly more expensive than Taj India, and slightly less expensive than Priya.
My wife and I recently enjoyed a lunch buffet, just a few weeks after they opened. There were only a few tables occupied when we arrived shortly after they opened at 11:30, but by the time we left most of the tables were in use.
The restaurant was brightly lit from both the overhead lights and a wall of windows. The table and chairs were utilitarian – comfortable and pleasant. The room was sparsely decorated – take down a few Indian paintings from the walls and it could be any non-descript restaurant in town. One bothersome point was the noise from the kitchen door. Whenever it swung, there was a loud squeak, followed by the noise from a fan in the kitchen that can only be described as “jet-like”. We were told that it was not supposed to be that loud, and they are definitely working on quieting it. Hopefully they’ll fix that squeak, too.
The service was friendly and efficient, with a few minor glitches (to be expected in a restaurant this new). Dishes were bussed from our table within moments of our emptying them. When we were seated, we were told to expect fresh Naan at our table soon. We asked if we could have it “dry” (without the butter or oil that is typically applied). The Naan was not brought to our table until we had almost finished our first “round” – and it was heavily “oiled”. We re-iterated our request for “dry” Naan, and a few moments later a huge piece of delicious “dry” Naan was served.
But what about the food?! Buffet food often doesn’t truly reflect a restaurant’s true culinary abilities. You cannot get it prepared to suit your personal taste, and it sits out there for possibly too long, cooling down, and/or changing its fresh-from-the-kitchen taste. So take this as a review of the buffet, not the restaurant’s full menu selections. (We were told that some of the items on the buffet are not on the menu, and some of the items on the menu will never be in the buffet.) The cuisine is primarily North Indian, although on the day we were there the buffet included umpa (a South Indian rice mixture somewhat reminiscent of mashed potatoes). We’ve had umpa only a few times before, and we didn’t care for it. But India House’s umpa was delicious. We covered it with green dal (a type of mildly spiced, but tasty, lentil soup), but it was even good by itself. In addition to umpa and green dal, the other non-entrée buffet items were basmati rice, mixed salad, mango chutney, pineapple yogurt sauce, and kheer (a warm rice pudding).
There were 5 entrees on the buffet. Saag/palak paneer, which contains spinach and home made cheese squares in a delicious cream sauce. Too often this dish is far too salty for my taste, but this rendition was perfectly spiced (though I would have preferred a bit more kick). The cheese was especially noteworthy with a fresh, clean, cheesy flavor. Another entrée was named “butter chicken”, but I believe it to be more commonly known as makhani chicken. It had small pieces of boneless white meat chicken in a delicious, creamy tomato sauce. A third entrée had no name card identifying it. It seemed to be steamed or stewed zucchini in a very mild, delicate, non-descript sauce. Although the spices were subdued, I found the dish tasty due to the zucchini flavor. There was also kadhi pakora, which consisted of battered & fried balls of chick pea flour in a yellow curry sauce. I found the sauce a bit sour for my tastes, but it was one of my wife’s favorite dishes. The last entrée was tandoori chicken, which is probably well known to anyone who has ever eaten North Indian food. On the plus side, the chicken was perfectly cooked. No spots of red meat that I find too often in many restaurants, but very tender and moist. However, there was virtually no tandoori taste detectable. It was perhaps the most disappointing tandoori I have ever eaten. Perhaps it was simply a poorly made batch, but prepare to be disappointed in case it’s typical.
In summary, we both found the food to be exceptionally fresh-tasting (an unusual thing to say for a buffet), with more authentic Indian flavoring than most other restaurants. However, we also found most of the sauces to be a bit too buttery and/or creamy (perhaps that, too, is authentic Indian). We would both have preferred a hotter (spicier) flavor, but that is often a problem when eating Indian buffet food. The ambiance was acceptable, and the service was very good.
Price: $8-15 a person
Style: Cultural Cuisine (Indian)
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
It’s been about 2 months since my visit to India House. Today I returned, and I’m pleased to say that many of the things I disliked have changed. Service was even better than during our first visit. The squeaky kitchen door is now silent, and the “jet-like” kitchen fan is now suitably muffled. And last, but not least, the Tandoori Chicken now has some Tandoori flavor, although there’s still much room for improvement, in my opinion.
There were several dishes in the buffet that weren’t there during my first visit. I don’t recall the names of all of them, but 3 of them were: Potato Pakora (it tasted similar to other Pakora I’ve had, but it looked quite different), Chicken Vindaloo (a bit disappointing, as it wasn’t fiery hot, nor was it even tomato-based as I’m used to having), and Chili Paneer, which I’ve never had before, but was one of the best Indian dishes I’ve ever eaten in a buffet. I’d return just to eat.
I noticed 4 separate Indian parties present during my lunch there, which cannot be a bad sign. Based on this experience, I must upgrade my rating of India House:
Rating: 4.0 (out of 5)
Reviewed by Kanda
2776 E Bidwell St, Suite 300