Dish: Mumbai Spice
Arun Bakhshi traveled the world with Bombay Palace Indian restaurants, working in New York; Mexico City; Washington, D.C.; and Houston. He also did a stint at Yatra Brasserie here in town before deciding to branch out on his own and open Mumbai Spice (12102 Westheimer, 281-759-1400) in a space that started out as Cliff's, then became Texadelphia, then Singha Thai.
"I know the business well, so why not?" said Bakhshi. "I can be more creative without the constraints of partners. I wanted to bring an authentic fine-dining Indian restaurant to the west side of town serving fresh, wholesome and tasty food." And Bakhshi is proud of his chef. "Mixing the masalas [spice mixes] takes a lot of skill, and I am very fortunate to have worked with the same chef for many years," he said. "He has quite a culinary lineage; his father and grandfather were also chefs."
Much of the decor is left over from previous owners, and the white-tablecloth restaurant has a contemporary, elegant feel. While the menu is certainly extensive, Bakhshi said he does not plan to offer a buffet, unlike many Indian restaurants around town.
Dish ordered the nonvegetarian combo lunch special consisting of chicken tikka masala, lamb roganjosh and shrimp vindaloo. Traditionally, a vindaloo curry is one of the hottest available. But while the dishes here were flavorful and freshly made, they lacked the kind of heat level normally found in Indian restaurants. During our phone interview, Bakhshi asked how we enjoyed the food. When we mentioned the lack of heat, he said, "That's the easiest problem to fix. Next time, tell them to make it hot."
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