Taste of India



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Summary: Expensive and mediocre as far as Indian food goes, Taste of India is still one of the best dining choices on I-5


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The stretch of I-5 between the Bay Area and Los Angeles is a virtual culinary desert. Choices are limited to fast food joints, coffee-shops serving Dennys-quality food, one very bad Mexican place and the relatively expensive Harris Ranch. In this context, "Taste of India" in Buttonwillow would seem to the weary traveler as mana from heaven, the one place where he can escape the perils of a dried hamburger or an overpriced steak. Still, "Taste of India" has two things working against it. The first one is its location: Buttonwillow is too close to LA to make it a convenient stop in the way there or back. The second are its prices; they are on the high side for an Indian restaurant and the lack of a lunch menu makes lunch an expensive proposition - our lunch for 2 came to $50 after tax and tip! The food, however, is good enough, the service friendly and the restaurant large and empty enough for little kids to stretch their legs.

We visited "Taste of India" on a Thursday in April 2006, around noon. There was one other party when we arrived, though a couple of more came before we left. For a while, however, we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. The place consists of one large square room, with a flat ceiling and framed Indian prints on the walls. The metal tables and chairs look cheap and give the place the look of a banquet room. But then again, you don't come here for the ambiance.

The menu offers standard North Indian fare, with a couple of Punjabi additions. Still, we stuck by our favorites and ordered chicken pakora, lamb korma, chicken tikka masala, rice, a sweet lassi, a coke and an Amristasri naan. The latter was stuffed with honey and fennel seeds (though the menu claimed it'd be honey and ground nuts) and it was disappointing. The bread was quite crispy and you could barely taste the honey. At $3.50, it was too expensive for what it was.

The chicken pakora, however, was quite good. The large chunks of chicken had a tasty yet thin lentil flour coating, and were good by themselves or with the accompanying standard sauces. Mike liked the sauce in the chicken tikka masala, but he disliked the chicken very much. He found it tough and dry. To me it looked like boiled, processed chicken. It certainly had not been marinated in any tikka spices or cooked in a tandoori oven. For that reason, the whole dish lacked the smokiness that makes chicken tikka masala so appealing. We'd definitely not order it again.

Mike was happier with the lamb korma, and thought the sauce was good. To me it tasted very much like the tikka masala sauce, and it wasn't creamy or sweet enough for my taste. It was more a generic curry than a korma. I wouldn't order it again either but Mike probably would.

The sweet lassi was quite good, however. It was almost too sweet, but had the right amount of tartness. I'd certainly order it again. Service was very friendly and the restaurant has high chairs.

Taste of India
20687 Tracy Avenue
Buttonwillow, CA
661.764.6464