Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bombay Tadka Comes to Clear Lake Texas

Down-home cooking. Old Country flavor. 
Comforting words to those who yearn for the way food tasted when they
were growing up on Mom's cooking.......or eating at Mom's favorite restaurant.

America, the 'Melting Pot' for immigrants like the Poles, Italians, Cubans,
Germans, Mexicans, Vietnamese, Chinese and just about everyone else, has
plenty of restaurants that successfully replicate the 'old country' flavor.
Not so in my Clear Lake neighborhood of NASA Mission Control HQ.
And so unashamedly I repeat the hackneyed statement yet again,
"Houston, we have a problem !"

After moving to Friendswood, Texas from India via New York/New Jersey
many years ago, I sadly discovered the void that exists for lovers of true Indian
Cuisine in Clear Lake. There are a few restaurants that serve a Lunchtime
Buffet acceptable to NASA-area residents, but while they all seem to employ
experienced Chefs, the end result of their creations is often erratic - far from
what Indian expats expect when it comes to 'old country' taste.

Annapurna (South Indian) started out great and then fizzled out, just like so
many before them who suffered growing pains. They began serving authentic
but stale food - a sure sign of approaching failure. They tried to survive change
of ownership and desperately began employing their younger family members,
who did their school assignments in between waiting tables, a common practice
in many family-owned businesses. While these zealous youngsters struggled for
their pocket money, they ultimately contributed to diminished customer service
and declining loyalty from die-hard well-wishers (like myself, above right)
who clung on until the day they disappeared from the 411 Directory.

A few eateries like Cuisine of India and Shalimar now carry on, serving as
they please, believing they are incomparable and have no existing competition.
Cleanliness and Decor are not a priority, as a single trip to their Washrooms
will prove. More than one such place features Giant-screen TVs blasting Indo-Pak
News, Cricket matches and Bollywood videos as a diversion for customers
who patiently wait for what they hope will be a taste of 'home cooking'.
Well, they might be in for a rude awakening shortly, because there's a younger,
newer kid on the block, and this time I was actually impressed with almost 
everything I experienced there !

I'm speaking of Bombay Tadka Bar and Restaurant on Hwy 3 in Webster.
Located in the old Alpine Brauhaus, they have emerged as a genuine, quality
establishment on all counts. The menu here is as plentiful and varied as that of
any Mumbai (formerly Bombay) Fusion eatery, and appropriately priced.
The service staff is a mix of mellow fellows and females who blend in smoothly
with the ambient Fusion Decor - huge sepia-toned images of old Bombay
on one wall while on the other wall are glitzy glamor shots of Bollywood
movie idols.

Bollywood Wall Decor at Bombay Tadka -2

The overall Rust/wooden tones make for a somewhat subdued but warm
and ambient Bar area, situated facing the dining room.

I enjoyed a tasty Masala Dosa* for Dinner since I had my fill of a Mutton Biryani 
platter the  day before at Sheik Chilli's in Houston, while my nephew had a
delicious  Lamb Biryani** that failed somewhat, but only because it was lacking
on the Lamb quantity included. But it was the only thing that was disappointing,
since our Dessert choices of Ras Malai, Pista Kulfi  and Masala Chai definitely
lived up to our expectations. The patrons were mostly Indian and their satisfied
faces bode well for the future of this place.

Now if only the owners don't lose their vision and focus on becoming a longtime
landmark instead of turning into take-the-money-and-run investors, I believe we'll
have a one-of-a-kind Indian Restaurant in the Houston/Clear Lake area.

Here's wishing loads of luck to the folks at Bombay Tadka Bar and Restaurant 
Bombay Tadka Bar and Restaurant sign Hwy 3  
Located at 17926 Highway 3 Suite 101
Webster Texas 77598
Phone : (281) 316-8883
Bombay Tadka on Urbanspoon
Virtual Poona Houston restaurants

* Masala Dosa $5.95
Crisp crepe wrapped around a satisfying filling of curried soft potatoes, onions
and peas. Served with coconut chutney and hot sambar (soup)

**Lamb Biryani $9.95
Fragrant Basmati Rice is cooked in traditional Dum Pukht style, a 200 year-old
custom, where the Rice, and your choice of Meat or Vegetable is left on slow
flame, mostly sealed, allowing the meats to cook in their own juices. Served
with Raita (a Yogurt-based Salad).

My 'Bombay Tadka' set on Flickr
'Tadka' the word from wikipedia


  1. The ambiance looks great.
    Hope the food will match it.

  2. Nice ambiance.
    Hope the food there matches that.

  3. Yes it was a very satisfying East(er) Inidian Buffet. The chef is a 5-Star with Taj Hotels experience. I believe I may get hooked since I am a single guy who rarely gets to eat home-cooked meals unless I prepare them ;-(

  4. Anonymous8:11 AM

    great post