First off, a correction: In the Dish wrap-up for 2002 published in the January 2 edition of the Dallas Observer, I mistakenly reported that Deep Sushi in Deep Ellum had closed. In fact, Sushi Nights was the Deep Ellum sushi restaurant that shuttered in 2002. I apologize for any inconvenience my mistake might have caused. Now, onto business...
With precious few exceptions, Indian fare in Dallas is the pits, a fact that restaurateur/chef Tinku Saini has taken literally and incorporated into a new Indian restaurant. Way up on Addison's restaurant row, removed from the Indian dining enclave of Richardson, Saini has dramatically renovated a 6,000-square-foot Black-Eyed Pea and transformed it into the Clay Pit & Curry House, an offshoot of his Austin restaurant that was pegged one of America's best ethnic restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine in 2001. Saini calls his Indo grub "contemporary Indian cuisine," which means traditional menu entrants such as chicken tikka masala and sag paneer are made groovy with menu creations such as naan pizzas, mussels in a curry-red wine-rose water sauce, and chai spice crème brûlée. "We want to do for Indian what P.F. Chang's did for Chinese," Saini says. "There's no reason Indian food can't be taken to that level." Or descend to that level, depending on how the phenomenally successful P.F. formula skids across your palate. To us, P.F's is the Muzak of Chinese cuisine, and a sitar-soprano sax rendition of "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" on an elevator would be devastating for healthy digestion, not to mention sanity.
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Royal Tokyo, the kitschy Japanese sushi/hibachi restaurant that successfully occupied the upper stretch of Greenville Avenue for nearly 30 years, will not be returning to that location. The restaurant has settled into permanent--albeit far smaller and without the hibachi extras--habitat near Trinity Mills and the Tollway, in the same mall strip that offers lodging to Carson's Palace and what remains of the shuttered Jimmy Lu's. Royal Tokyo was fatally disabled in October 2001 after a devastating fire that severely damaged the back portion of the restaurant...That temporary is synonymous with permanent is a rule almost without exception in the restaurant biz. Witness Alvin Granoff's Ecco Italia, formerly Eccolo Ristorante and Enoteca. The lauded Italian restaurant has "temporarily" closed according to a message on the restaurant's answering machine, which also wishes callers the "merriest of holidays." Granoff could not be reached for comment, but at least one prominent Dallas restaurateur is rumored to be sniffing out the location. Temporarily perhaps...