Best Indian Restaurant (2003)
Even if Dawat didn't serve the exotic and sensually complex cuisine emanating from India, it would be an absorbing experience. Couched in a former General Cinema multiplex theater, Dawat is the creation of a pair of Richardson businessmen, one Pakistani, the other of Indian descent. They cobbled together 47 investors and $6 million to turn the place into FunAsiA, a complex featuring banquet rooms, a concession stand, an ice cream parlor, a fast-food outlet, an arcade, an advertising business, a theater that shows Bollywood films and an office where a free monthly magazine (FunAsiA) is published. The food is exquisite, even when left to the horrifying tortures of the buffet table, a ubiquitous staple in Indian restaurants that may in fact be a requirement under Texas state restaurant statutes. Chicken boti is moist (as are the lamb and beef dishes) with an army of flavors--lemon, coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala (spice blend)--that seem to line up for dazzling choreography instead of a fighting formation on the tongue. Rice even has its 15 minutes--plain or adulterated--with firm, distinct and separate grains. Palak paneer, a spinach slurry blended with planks of white cheese, is sublime. Not bad for a place with ornate banquet rooms set up in traditional festive Indian wedding garb around the corner from an immense air hockey table.