During Hidden Gems Week, the Observer food and drink writers are celebrating an abundance of diverse, delicious restaurants and bars around Dallas, places that don’t often (or ever) get mentioned by big-name food media, trendsetters, bloggers or chefs. We’re taking you outside of the ordinary to help you discover something new.
Bombay Chopstix is a pan-Asian restaurant in a busy Irving strip mall, part of a three-location mini-chain with a menu that spans from chop suey to chocolate-filled sweet spring rolls.
But the Irving location of Bombay Chopstix has a secret: a second menu, launched in early September and marketed under a different name.
Welcome to Indian Oceans, which offers cuisine that’s truly rare in Dallas: Indian seafood. This hidden restaurant-within-a-restaurant, announced behind the counter and on paper flyers, proclaims the arrival in North Texas of fried fish, Indian-style, along with shrimp curry and the extraordinary sight that is crab masala, a gently spicy bowl of curry from which an entire crab protrudes like a dazzling vision.
For metro Dallas, this represents a major addition. The recipes come from Maharashtra, the Indian coastal state that stretches from Mumbai to the south and faces westward into the Arabian Sea. Three hundred miles south of Mumbai is the tiny state of Goa, a former Portuguese colony known for its seafood. Bombay Chopstix may be a fast-casual spot for lo mein, but its alter ego, Indian Oceans, has the DFW area’s only menu fully devoted to Maharashtrian and Goan seafood.
On my first visit, I tried Malvani curry, named after the dish’s coastal hometown, Malvan. Although goat meat was a tempting option, I went for pomfret, a fish that Indian Oceans also serves fried.
The cashier warned me that it would have bones. “Are you sure? Do you like bones?” Yes, I was sure. “Do you like spicy?” Yes, I like spicy, too.
My curry came in a large bowl with three pomfret fillets stacked atop each other, each only a little smaller than one of those “individual portions” of fish at grocery store seafood counters. It’s a generous helping, especially with a scoop of rice and a couple of unusually small, thin roti, which here are the size and shape of corn tortillas.
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It’s a marvelous curry, bright orange and spotted with cilantro, with powerful but agreeable heat. The fillets are tender; it’s easy to pull the meat apart from the bones with a fork (and one of my three small fillets had only a single bone). I found myself dumping more and more rice into the bowl to soak up the curry. And, soon enough, I also started thinking about coming back to try the fried fish, Indian-style popcorn shrimp and crab masala. Indian Oceans is an exciting addition to Irving’s Indian food community.
An Indian Oceans menu is posted below.
Indian Oceans, inside Bombay Chopstix, 7750 N. MacArthur, Suite 135, Irving. indianoceans-tx.com. 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.