Big Taste at Little India

Susan says…

An Indian restaurant within walking distance of my workplace is a dream come true.  We tried it out the first couple weeks they were open.

Little India is located in the old firehouse location on Washington Street near the Capitol where at least 138 different eateries have called home.  The exterior was spiffed up and adorned with a new sign.  More significant changes were made inside: new booths and tables and new lighting updated the space and made dining more comfortable.  A change I wish they had made is to get rid of that awful ramp from the back seating area to the buffet area.  I feel like I am going to fall over head first when I walk down that ramp in my high-heeled shoes.   If it weren’t for the handrail, I don’t think I could sit in that section.

The selection was about what I expected: several proteins, the token vegetarian items, basmati, naan, the usual condiments.  It was strange to see hummus on the buffet, though.  I am not sure how that fits into the Indian theme of the restaurant.  Since Daniel isn’t going to write anything about Little India himself, I’ll go ahead and say his guess was the previous owners left a pan of hummus in the fridge and the new owners didn’t want it to go to waste.

Chicken tikka masala must be a “starter” Indian dish.  After all, I’ve seen it on every Indian lunch buffet I’ve tried.  You know what I mean…when you first began to drink wine, you probably preferred Reisling and White Zinfindel – the “starter” wines.  Then you moved on to Pinot Grigio and Merlot.  After tasting many wines, you could finally appreciate Zinfindel and Cabernet.    Well, chicken tikka masala is like White Zinfindel.  However, unlike White Zinfindel, I still really like chicken tikka masala.  Little India’s version was Capital T Tender and slightly spicier other buffet offerings I’ve tasted.

I also tried these really yummy “potato balls”.  They were similar to pakoras.  Soft potato/veggie mixture inside and crispy on the outside.  I felt compelled to eat another one after I was completely full.   I also sampled a cabbage dish that was a great contrast to the other dishes.  It had a nice amount of heat, too!

Indian is one of my favorite cuisines so unless the food was totally crappy, I was going to enjoy my meal at Little India.  And enjoy it I did!  You just can’t get a more flavorful meal than Indian, in my opinion.  Not only are there many different notes hitting your tongue, the wonderful aromas add to the enjoyment.

Compared to Sitar:

Atmosphere:  Sitar
Chicken Tikka Masala:  Little India
Naan:  Sitar
Service:  Little India
Value:  Little India
Selection:  Equal
Overall Taste:  Equal

You get basically zero service at Sitar at lunch time.  However, at Little India, you can order a beverage and they seem genuinely concerned about your dining experience.  The only thing lacking in the service department at Little India is the check out procedure.  I hate waiting on a check and I hate waiting to pay.  When I am done eating, I want to leave.  We stood in a line that took 5-10 minutes to get through to pay. 

This is a great lunch option which is super-convenient for me.  I hope their business does well.  They got a nice write up by the Food Guy, too.  I recommend Little India with THREE FORKS!

Little India
1604 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV
304-720-3616

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31 responses to “Big Taste at Little India

  1. I haven’t had the buffet yet, but have had dinner twice. I’ll give it 4 stars.

    The tandoori mixed grill was excellent– larger and better than Sitar’s . It has a spicier marinade and I think the meat was better quality. The second time I had the lamb vindaloo and it was very good.

    (The “medium” was not as hot as Sitar’s medium which is about perfect for me . I had the Sitar hot once and while tasty it made me sweat buckets. I never had the guts for Sitar’s “Indian hot”. I may try LI’s hot next time)

    I do wish LI would serve lamb saag because that is one of my favorites.

    I like LI’s samosas better than sitar’s and I haven’t made my mind up on the naans. LI’s is “fluffier” and not like other naans i have had but goodin its own way.

    The service is MUCH better than Sitar’s has been in recent times and price wise they are similar but I think LI might be slightly more expensive.

    I’ve been disappointed in dinner at Sitar the last several times so I am happy for the competition. I won’t stop going to Sitar altogether, but i will continue to explore LI’s menu and if i continue to be pleased I may only hit Sitar for the lamb saag.

  2. I think Little India is way better than Sitar. The atmosphere, service and food have been excellent the four times I’ve dined there and unlike the folks at Sitar, the owners/servers at Little India make you feel like they actually want you there!

  3. Your whole “Chicken tikka masala must be a starter dish” and analysis of wine sophistication rings a little hollow coming from someone who orders ketchup on hot dogs.

    And by the way, that “awful ramp” makes the bar accessible for people with larger issues than proper footwear.

  4. Stanton-
    What bar? I don’t recall seeing a bar in the back seating section. Unless you mean the BUFFET bar…and that’s in the front of the restaurant.
    I’m not a complete idiot – I know what the ramp is there for. However, there is a seating area near the front of the restaurant where the buffet is located that is handicapped accessible. The steep pitch of the ramp makes it dangerous for foot traffic.

  5. I believe he’s just teasing you. On the other hand, if a class of people are going to have a barrier to access to a large portion of the restaurant it would seem fair for it to be people who inflict the “handicap” on themselves out of fashion sense.
    I’m not a wine snob, so I’ll let the merlot and cabernet being the sophisticated choices comment pass. (teasing).

  6. I don’t think you are an idiot; complete or otherwise. Phil is right; I was just teasing you. Sheeesh.

    But to clarify, I was speaking of the buffet bar which as I recall is only accessible to someone in a wheelchair by way of the ramp. I could be wrong but I seem to recall that the side of the bar on the ground floor is too high, but the back side is proper height for wheelchair access; the only way to get to the back side is via the ramp.

    Now, are you going to just sit there and let Phil call you a wine snob?!

  7. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Sitar. Little India is superior in every way. The buffet isn’t giving you a clear picture of the differences in quality between these 2 places.

  8. I had another excellent meal Saturday night. the goat curry and mulligatawny were boith very good as were the tastes of others’ dishes i tried.

    Also, the manager (owner?) came by our table and told us they will be introducing an expanded menue soon (which will include lamb saag). He said he wanted to get things running smoothly with a limited menu but to expect a number of new dishes in the near future.

  9. I thought Little India’s naan blew Sitar out of the water. And atmosphere? You can hear a pin drop at Sitar in the evenings. It has the worst atmosphere of any restaurant in Charleston. Little India wins by a landslide. The mint chutney at Little India is tasty as well. I agree with Hippie Killer, Sitar is history for me.

  10. hummus is primarily based on the chickpea, of which the indian culture has made great use.

    i’m glad you like little india, but i still really hate: all you people, your crap writing, your food tastes, the restaurants you do and do not like because they always seem to be wrong, that you’re not really foodies, that people come to this site, that i’m on this site at all right now and that you people are allowed in any restaurant.

  11. Scotty-
    I wish you wouldn’t hold things in. Tell us how you really feel.

    First of all the hummus comment was a JOKE Daniel made. Maybe we should increase use of emoticons. Second, we never claimed to be foodies. In fact, our mission statement in the upper right hand corner points out that we are just regular people. Third, I’m glad you’re on our site…makes things more interesting.

  12. Eat a bag of dicks, Scotty.

  13. And then send a review of how they taste.

  14. I think Scotty is hilarious.

  15. Atmosphere – Little India
    Service – Little India
    Food – Sitar
    That being said I don’t know how Sitar survives this competition with the crappy service and atmosphere.

  16. Hippie Killer, eat a bag of dicks!

    I just wanted to see if writing that made me feel as juvenile and ignorant as it made “Hippie Killer” appear. . . it didn’t.

  17. Sitar’s food is much less complex than Little India’s. That doesn’t make it any better or worse. I find them both very good as far as quality and taste.
    Sitar has gone downhill since they fired their old wait staff and hired a bunch of young kids. I can deal with service that is not professional, but not with a bevy of bumbling bozos.
    It was good the see the old faces from Sitar at Little India when I was there last.

  18. demosthenes.or.locke@gmail.com

    Unless they can get by on walking traffic to their lunch buffet alone, Sitar is not going to survive this competition. The food at Little India was better in my opinion, or at least more appealing to the WV palate. The service at Little India is inarguably better. Atmosphere I think Little India has a slight edge. Can Charleston support two very similar menus, with fairly similar locations? I doubt it.

    Oh, and Sag, go eat a big bag of papadum!

  19. You make good points, but the competition could motivate Sitar to step up it’s game. It seems that most people (myself included) are most put off by the relatively recent decline in the serice at Sitar. I still like the food and had regularly endured the slow and sometimes less than cordial service because it was the only place to get Indian food and it is good food.

    Fix the service problems, run a few promotions to get people to experience the improvements and I think it could be OK. It’s not a huge place so it doesn’t need that many customers to make it. It’s also more convenient if you are going to a movie, shopping, or even a show at the Civic Center or Municipal auditorium (although Charlestonians disdain for walking even a few blocks might minimize that advantage).

    I do think the market is large enough to support 2 Indian restaurants if both are well liked. Hell, the area supports God knows how many much larger chain places with very similar product.

  20. Is “Fork You” still in business, i.e. no reviews in two months? There are several newly opened restaurants in the area wanting for review, including the reopened Blossom. Also what is it with the vulgar comments in posts? Me thinkst you may be losing your audience. Maybe you need some new recruits? What’s going on? Can someone report please?

    • Business? That assumes someone is making money on reviewing restaurants, which I’d not the case. Notice the site is ad free.

  21. I was also wondering f the blog had been abandoned. I understand you have lives and it’s also the dead of winter, but if you aren’t going out to places not already reviewed, you should just post a line or 2 about a new place and invite comments.

  22. I’d rather be perceived as juvenile and ignorant than as a pretentious bore.

  23. Hippie Killer:
    But, wouldn’t you rather be perceived as neither? I share your view of SH but he has a point about your language. Apparently you have an audience who likes your style at your own bolg, but you should tone it down when visiting other blogs where the standards are different.

  24. Is this blog still running? Having no new reviews or comments in a few months will loose your readers.

  25. hancock.tom@gmail.com

    You all should not give this blog up so easily, if you are ready to give up the ghost you should consider passing it on to someone else, because this blog is a true resource for the kanawha valley.

  26. Reisling a starter wine? Seriously? Real wine drinkers drink zin and cabs? How pretentious can you get? I’ll be over here eating my chicken tikka masala and drinking a big bottle of Reisling.

  27. Sproston Green

    Ok so this site is on hiatus or something kind of sort of. Anyhow for my next two cents on the Sitar/Little India debate. Had a few really bad meals at Sitar back in January and haven’t been back(when did Chana Masala become a bowl of onions?). Went there for over 10 years without one bad meal. Been going to Little India and liking it pretty well. However, I have noticed consistency problems there too. Mutter Aloo can be a great dish there but it can be bland as heck there too. I don’t understand how this happens. I guess one cook makes it differently than the other but that must mean they have a good cook and a bad cook? Service is still light years ahead of Sitar on Little India’s worst day but if someone’s first visit to Little India was based on the dish I had the other night they probably wouldn’t go back.

  28. Sproston, I guess you could say this site had been on hiatus over the winter and was so for various reasons. However, there have been a couple of recent posts and more to come in the near future. We have reviews in the works of a few places but need second visits before we can write a proper review. So be on the look out!

  29. Sproston Green

    I gotta throw this one out there. I love Indian food and love the fact that Charleston has two Indian restaurants that can be really great but it’s also really sad that neither one can be consistant with their food. I realise that some of these dishes are fairly complex to make but at the price you pay for them getting something decent shouldn’t be that hard. Lately TOI has been just as inconsistant as Sitar and that’s just not cool. I hope both of these restaurants make it but they don’t help their cause sometimes.

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