in the mood for masala, but not for a drive all the way to mayuri, we decided it was finally time to try india's rasoi. we've been saving this one for a while, and at the end of the night, we had some mixed feelings--delight that it was worth the wait, and frustration that it took us so long to get there!
india's rasoi | euclid
central west end
india's rasoi (not to be confused with raj's rasoi) is, from the moment you walk in the door, the kind of place that makes you sigh in relief and forget that at some point during the day you had Responsibilities. the dim mood-lighting perfectly illuminates the rich, warm colors of the decor. the eggplant ceiling, orange wallpaper, red plush seating, and woven fan blades give the place a spirited and exotic feel without going overboard. they've chosen a few pieces of art for embellishment (including a mural and some paintings), and they are tastefully and artfully placed. it's an uncluttered, modern sort of sumptuousness. this is a very comfortable, intimate setting that is somehow perfect for a romantic meal for two, an outing for the family, or even a get-together for friends.
when we arrived, the host's station was empty, but it took the person at the bar not even a moment's hesitation to come over and seat us. not only that, but he looked at our reservation on the computer, saw our special request, and made sure to accommodate us--all the while being perfectly friendly and warm. we were seriously impressed. our server was equally warm, very attentive, and more than happy to ask the kitchen our questions. this is clearly a place that takes care of their business. and probably also their employees--we couldn't help but notice how content they all looked.
though we were tempted to order the rasoi vegetarian dinner, we decided to save that for our next trip. it took some time to whittle it down to just two, but we finally ordered channa masala, palak paneer, and rosemary naan. rarely do our requests for extra spice ever get fulfilled, so we were very pleased when a few bites of chickpeas had us reaching for our water glasses. not that we were surprised; everything so far was pitch perfect. we've commented on requesting extra heat before--usually it seems as though chefs assume we can't take the heat. what we love about rasoi is that they were able to heed our request, but not at the cost of the flavor of the dishes. both were still very balanced, and unbelievably flavorful. in the channa masala, the chickpeas were perfectly cooked and the sauce was robust; it never felt too oily, and even after a half hour it didn't separate.
palak paneer. the spinach really held its own in this dish--none of that creamy paste we're sure you've all suffered. rather, the consistency was smooth but full-bodied, and with a distinctly fresh, spinachy taste. the paneer, however, was the one component all evening that left us wanting more. literally, we wished we had more, but it also just wasn't all that flavorful. for our money, mayuri still has the most delectable homemade paneer we've ever tasted. rasoi's was a bit hard, and perhaps this contributed to a lack of flavor.
and then, the rosemary naan was a revelation. why don't all indian restaurants serve this?! it was superb--spongy and crispy, herbacious and smooth. it was the perfect dipping, sopping, scooping vehicle for wiping all our dishes clean.
we're so glad to add rasoi to our list of standards, and it's great to know that ethnic food thrives in st. louis. rasoi is so accommodating of vegetarian needs and tastes that this is one place we feel really safe dining at. and what's more, they offer a lunch buffet (where the vegetarian dishes are kept separate)--and all on convenient euclid.