Bhinder’s Indian Cuisine on No. 5 Road; South of Steveston Hwy

Nanzaro and I went to the new Indian restaurant on No. 5 Road, south of Steveston Highway for lunch. This restaurant was opened in Nov 2012.

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It is located next to Pho Ten, in Sandhu’s Plaza. We arrived closed to 12PM but it’s not open yet. Nanzaro went to ask the person who was cleaning the window and was told it will open in 10 to 15 minutes. So, we waited but not more than 5 minutes, the Open sign was lighted.

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It was not a big restaurant. The chairs are comfortable though.

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The menu is simple, just a few combos.

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Nanzaro opted for the Butter Chicken combo. All combos come with rice, naan, salad, vegetables and picked mango. Price varies depending on the main of the combo.

The naan looked like store bought version, not home made fresh from a tandoori oven. It’s too uniform.

Continue reading

Himalaya Restaurant on No. 5 Road, Richmond

Arkensen and Nanzaro wanted Indian food on a weekend dine out. Arkensen even volunteered to drive us to the restaurant.

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We went to Himalaya Restaurant at No. 5 Road and Cambie.

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We came for the All You Can Eat Buffet which is $12 per person. Himalaya Restaurant also sells a wide range of Indian sweets. This restaurant seats about 70.

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If all you can eat is not your forte, you can order from the menu too. You can click on the menu to have a larger view.

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I have never seen so much Indian sweets being offered on the buffet tables before.

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Gulap Jamun is the most common Indian sweets offered in most All You Can Eat Indian buffet.

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Above are some of the items offered on the buffet tables which include meat curries, vegetarian dishes, tidbits, etc. You can click on the photos to have a larger view. Continue reading

New India Buffet on West Broadway, Vancouver

Arkensen and Nanzaro had an eye checkup in Vancouver during the winter break. Normally, they have their checkup in January but this time I was given the appointment during winter break. I’m so glad because I don’t have to worry about them missing classes for their eyes checkup.

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Arkensen and Nanzaro wanted to eat at the New India Buffet & Restaurant which is located in the same building where their optometrist is.

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Arkensen and Nanzaro had tried the $5 lunch box take out here before. It was during their previous year visit to the optometrist during a school day. Since we had to rush back to school, they just had the lunch box take out and eat it in the car on the way back to school.

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New India Buffet & Restaurant has a nice view of Vancouver. I can imagine the night scenery from here will be very beautiful.

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The interior of the restaurant is made of multilevel dining area. It is big and decorated festively.

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We came here for the buffet. Actually, for Arkensen, he only wanted butter chicken with rice. Arkensen does not care for variety. When we go to Kedah House for their buffet, Arkensen will only eat rice with beef rendang. His new slogan is know your limit, stay within it. Hm, that sounds familiar. Continue reading

Danny’s Market, corner of Garden City & Francis, Richmond

It was a gloomy and showery fall Saturday. The boys do not want to go out to eat. Moreover, there is a hockey game at 1:00PM.

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So, we settled with Danny’s Market pizzas since Danny’s is having a Customer Appreciation Special advertised in the Richmond News paper. This offer is only for pick up only. It took about 30 minutes for the order to be ready for pick up upon order.

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Danny’s Market is an east Indian convenience store. It’s a longer timer in the corner of Garden City Road and Francis Road. Danny’s Market is famous for their screamers. There is a couple of tables in the store for people to eat in. They serve pizza, samosa, pizza pockets, hot dogs, garlic twisty bread, sandwiches, etc. I also saw a sign that says Danny’s chicken coming soon.

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We brought home two large pizzas from the coupon deal.

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The first pizza is Butter Chicken Pizza.  It has a mild butter chicken flavour. Nanzaro commented that … Continue reading

Tandoori Raj Restaurant on E65th Ave, Vancouver

We initially intended to go to Tandoori Kona in Richmond as Arkensen wanted butter chicken for lunch. Unfortunately, Kona was not opened for lunch on Sunday. While in the area, I also noticed that Red Mirchi had moved a few doors away to a smaller shop lot. The original location of Red Mirchi is taken over by a Vietnamese Restaurant called Pho Boi which is under renovation.

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So, we had no choice but cross the bridge to Vancouver to look for Indian restaurant for Arkensen.We were on Main St and Tandoori Raj Restaurant was the first Indian restaurant we came across.

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It was 1:30PM when we arrived and we were the only customers at that time. Tandoori Raj Restaurant does serve liquor. The decorations is simple and the restaurant is spacious.

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We ordered Papadam to snack on while waiting for our main dishes. Each papadam costs 0.60. I was a little disappointed as the papadam did not comes with any dipping sauce. The papadam by itself is quite salty.

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We noticed that Indian restaurants generally serve water in nice glasses unlike some Chinese restaurants use plastic cups.

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Our first main dish is called the King’s Special Biryani. The dish costs $10.95. It is … Continue reading

Community Kitchens meet at Red Mirchi, Richmond

Updated: 4th Oct 2011: Red Mirchi has moved a few doors away to 4119 #5 Road.

The Richmond Community Kitchen met for the last time before the summer break. This luncheon is attended by 13 members from various Richmond Community Kitchens.

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I filled in for Minoo to organize this luncheon because Minoo has a last minute personal matter to attend to. It was a good turnout.

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We had lunch at Red Mirchi at the corner of No. 5 Road and Cambie. The location had been determined during the previous week’s lunch at Cucina Manila. We love to enjoy various ethnic cuisines in our multicultural community kitchens.

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Red Mirchi offers buffet lunch and daily lunch specials at reasonable prices.

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Red Mirchi’s regular menu items ranges from $10 to $15 for the Indian dishes. You can click on the menu to view them larger. Red Mirchi also serves pizza and pasta.

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Red Mirchi has a very pleasant setting with booth seats and single rectangular tables that can be joined up for a large group. It is spacious.

We were told by the server that this restaurant has been in business for 15 months. The server who served us told us that she used to work at All India Sweets in Vancouver for 5 years before her family decided to open this restaurant. This is a family run business, managed by two brothers and two sisters.

The server also told us they are often mistaken to be related to Mirchi on Granville St. in Vancouver. However, they are not related at all. They even have customers who call up for take out orders but went to the Mirchi in Vancouver to pick up the order and only found out it’s the wrong Mirchi.

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Since we had a big group and the majority of them opted for the buffet, we decided the whole group to have the buffet. It’s easier to manage this way. The buffet is $10.95 per person.

The main dish in the buffet is … Continue reading

Dakshin Indian Cuisine on King George Highway and 80th, Surrey

Updated: 21st June 2012: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com

At my place of work, we have a number of contract staff from India. They had been with the company for over a year already. A couple of weeks ago I bumped into them at the coffee machine. We chatted and of course I had to ask them this question “what is the most memorable Indian food you had ever tried in Vancouver?”

I still remember a long time ago when I had dinner with Michelle. Michelle is a another foodie who follows chowtimes but she hardly participated in comments. She knows her food and travels the world in search of good food (I like her lifestyle!). Well, knowing that she is familiar with East Indian cuisine, I asked her the same sort of question … “Is there a very good Indian Cuisine restaurant in Vancouver?” She could rattle off names of a lot of other type of restaurants … and she couldn’t come up with one that is Indian.

Yet another friend, also East Indian, said that it is hard to find really authentic home made Indian food too. He was telling me that the perennial Vancouver favourite, the butter chicken, is so westernized that he hardly want to try them in restaurants. He said that many restaurants will cream up the curries with whipped cream.

Yeah … there is so little I know about authentic Indian food although I grew up with Malaysian food which is heavily influenced by South Indian cuisine.

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Back to the contract staff at the coffee machine …

Their answer to my question was unanimously “Dakshin”. My question launched them into an excited description of why Dakshin is their favourite restaurant. I enjoyed that conversation as obviously these guys are passionate about food as much as I do.

All of them are from South India and two of the more vocal ones are from the city of Hyderabad. They gave me a crash course on Hyderabadi cuisine saying Dakshin is an authentic Hyderabadi restaurant and the restaurant makes the food like they have at home in Hyderabad. The one dish they spoke so much about was the Hyderabadi Biryani.

So for the entire week, each time I bumped into them at the coffee machine, we were mostly talking about Indian cuisine and Dakshin’s dishes.

By the time Suanne and I got the chance to go to Dakshin on our Friday date night, I felt I already know what I wanted to order.

Dakshin is a long drive from home. It is in Surrey, a part of the Lower Mainland that I hardly go to. I am very sure that there are a lot of good restaurants but I know so little of the place. Anyway, Dakshin is located on King George Highway at the intersection with 80th Avenue. It’s easy to find.

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Dakshin is a nice big and spacious restaurant. It is clean; a little dim with soft lights. Sorry, I color corrected the picture above and it turned out to be brighter than it is. LOL!

It was quite empty on that Friday night. Despite the size of the restaurant which can seat … ooh … 60-70 people at least, there were only 3 other parties.

We were initially served by a young Indian girl. She was soooo soft spoken and shy. I asked too many questions and she appeared unsure in her replies. So she got someone else to help us — a guy who seems in charge of the floor that night. He was really helpful and obliging with all the dumb questions I had. He was also very knowledgeable too.

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Click on pix above if you can’t read the small prints.

Here is a bit more info … the name Dakshin simply means “South”. This restaurant specializes on food from Hyderabad and Chattinad. The waiter told us that they spare no effort in making their famous Biryani the way it is uniquely done in Hyderabad — no corners cut. He also told us that their chef is a chef who used to work in the Taj Palace (it’s a hotel, not a palace BTW) in Hyderabad. I thought the way he said it like its a big deal adding that the Taj hotels and palaces are the finest hotels in India.

The waiter also told us that Dakshin is one of only two Hyderabadi restaurants in Metro Vancouver. The other one is also owned by them a few blocks away which serves crepes and snacks. Dakshin had been operating for the last 1.5 years already — so, pretty newish.

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They don’t have a big menu. Just four pages of it. Captivating.

Their prices are OK — not too expensive. The Indian contract staff at my office told me that they had recently lowered their prices because at one point it was very expensive. For instance, the Biryani is $12 now. It used to be $14-$15.

A few days before my visit, I mentioned about Dakshin on vanchow. Someone took a look at their menu and pointed out that they even have Chinese (eg. Chicken Corn Soup) and North Indian food (eg. Butter Chicken) on their menu … that kind of watered down Dakshin’s claim to being authentic Hyderabad. So I just HAD to take this “issue” up with our waiter. He laughed and told us that he just had to put in a bit of everything to cater to more people’s taste — a fact of life in Vancouver’s restaurants.

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Other than the Biryani, the other highly recommended dish from my colleagues at work is the Chicken 65. This is one interesting dish.

Chicken 65 is traditionally eaten as an appetizer. But what an appetizer. This is $9 but there are so much chicken in this that you might as well have this as an entree.

The origin of the name Chicken 65 is interesting. There are no such thing as a Chicken 64 or a Chicken 66 and yet in Indian if you ask for Chicken 65, everyone knows what it is. Don’t try to ask them why the name because everyone would have their own version on how the name came about.

So I checked this up in Wikipedia. Here are some of the possible origins:

  • It is made with 65 ingredients
  • It is made with 65 types of chili
  • It originally costs 65 rupees
  • Each piece should weigh 65 grams (unlikely)
  • It was invented in 1965
  • It takes 65 days to make the marinade
  • The chicken used must be 65 days old
  • The most interesting one is this. Some Indian troops from the north were stationed in the southern part of the country. They couldn’t speak the local language but they love the item #65 on the menu of this particular restaurant. So they always ordered Chicken 65.

Like I said, there is no Chicken 64 or Chicken 66. However, the waiter told me that there is a Mutton 56. LOL!

Lovely, is how I would simply describe Chicken 65. This is a perfect appetizer with the right flavour that you don’t need this with rice or bread. The chicken is boneless and it is batter fried … so it does give a nice crunch and a light crisp but at the same time not at all like fried chicken. It is moist … spicy with a hint of tanginess. That spiciness leaves a nice lingering heat on the lips. We love it and couldn’t stop munching on them.

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THIS … this is what the folks in the office was raving about.

And I want to say up front that I never had Biryani this good. The name is Hyderabadi Dum Ki Lamb Biryani and it is $11. If you come to this restaurant, this is the only dish you need to order if you just want only one thing. You can have the chicken version but lamb is the way to go.

The million dollar question I had to the waiter was “So what makes this so great?”. His eyes brightened up and went on to explain that there is nothing like this on this earth (he he he … don’t they always say that?). He explained in such minute details in such quick speed that some of it went swoosh over our head.

Here is what makes it such a big deal: Continue reading

Mezbaan Fine Indian Fusion on Kingsway and Melbourne, Vancouver

To tell the truth, I had been barely able to hold things together the past two weeks. I had been juggling way too many balls at the same time that it is only a matter of time it is all going to come crashing down on me. Already I had been dropping a few balls here and there.

So last Friday, Suanne was asking me if I had decided where to go for our Friday night out. I told her I’ll figure out something during the day. I didn’t.

I completely forgot about it. I did not realize it was already past 4PM when Suanne called me on my cell telling me she’s waiting for me to meet up for dinner. That was when I decided enough is enough. I just shoot off the last email. Work can wait till next Monday.

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My mind was scrambling on where to go. Suanne leaves the choice of the places to me — all the time. She had always done that ever since we met. It is like my responsibility to bring her to new places to eat. She likes that and I like my role too.

Do you feel this way I feel? When I am not looking for a place to eat, I could spot a million places while driving. I would tell Suanne “let’s go there next time. let’s go here next time”. But when I actually needed to find a place to eat, I can’t seems to see any at all.

So without a place in mind, I decided to drive along Kingsway in the direction to downtown. I did not have to drive far. It was just right after Boundary that I spotted one of the “let’s go there next time” places. Frankly, I had not even remembered the name of the restaurant … but I did remember that they have a “Fine Indian Fusion” words on the signboard.

I had been thinking a lot of what Michelle was saying during the 12B dinner that there is no really great Indian restaurants in Vancouver. Based on what she said, I was intent on finding out more about Indian food. No, I really did not think that such an unknown restaurant like Mezbaan would fit the bill of a great Indian restaurant at all. But we did find something new … something unique in this restaurant that makes me want to come back again.

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There was no customer in Mezbaan when we walked in shortly after 5PM. As a matter of fact, there was only one other customer the whole night we were there.

The decor was painted in warm orange color. Suanne said she noticed a lot of Indian restaurants are painted in this color. Well, I thought it is because it is the colour of the national flag on India. I made that answer up but I do sound convincing, don’t I? 🙂

The Chef served us. I know he is the chef because I had just read on the newspaper reviews by the entrance about the restaurant. The Chef’s name is TJ and the newspaper clipping said that Mezbaan is North Indian and that Chef TJ grinds his own masala spice. They don’t use branded, pre-made spices in their cooking. I thought it was a good thing to call out.

Chef TJ was an obliging man but I think he was kind of suspicious and uncomfortable with us. We were asking way too many questions and I had a big camera in my hands and Suanne has a pen in hers, catching every word he was saying onto her notebook. Chef TJ did not ask what we were doing but am sure that was the question in his mind.

Apparently, Mezbaan has been in operation for 11 months already. The word Mezbaan means “unique host” in the Urdu language.

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We were served Papadams. It was small and rolled into a cone. I wished it is of the larger pieces that we find else where. I could eat tons of this. Too little here.

Are these expensive? If not, they should serve this in stacks for the customer like restaurants do with bread.

The papadams were served with the usual tamarind sauce as a dip. Sour and spicy is how the sauce tasted. I prefer eating this plain sans sauce.

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We started with Prawn Pakoras ($9) as appetizers. This was nice. The prawns were a bit on the small side.

It was cooked in a crispy seasoned batter. The batter is very thin, not as crispy as we expected. Pakoras usually are heavy in batter but not this one. Even though we did not expect it to look like this, we like it.

Despite the size of the prawns, the deshelled prawn was springy. It tasted good.

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We did not know what to get for the mains and asked Chef TJ what he thinks is the best in the kitchen today. Without hesitation, he said we should try his … Continue reading

Akbar’s Own on Broadway and Cypress, Vancouver

It is so coincidental. This year, three Vancouver area food blogger vacationed in Barcelona, Spain.

Mel of GourmetFury.com went to France and Spain and dined at the Alkimia in Barcelona. Coincidentally, when Suanne and I went on a gastronomic tour of Spain this summer we also dined at the Alkimia (see post here).

ET and Christina Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken also visited Barcelona as part of their round the world trip (!) this year. If you are a foodies, you should check their website where they had dined in some of the best restaurants in legendary culinary cities in the world.

We arranged to meet up. I suggested to meet up at the new Cafe Barcelona. While it would have been fun to eat at Vancouver’s Cafe Barcelona and compare their tapas with what we had in Spain, I kiboshed the idea after some research of that place because the venue would not have been good for long conversations.

We ended up at Akbar’s Own.

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Akbar’s Own is recommended by none other than the owner of Salam Bombay. So we thought it would be a great place to meet over a slow dinner.

Akbar’s Own is a Khasmiri/Muglai North Indian restaurant located on West Broadway at the intersection of Cypress. This stretch of West Broadway is rather quiet as far as restaurants are concerned, very unlike West 4th, just 1 block north. But Akbar’s Own had been operating in this location for over 12 years now.

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The ambiance in Akbar’s Own is pleasant and conducive for a nice dinner. It is also dark and extremely hard to take pictures but at least I managed to correct most of them.

Service wise, they were attentive and came by with right timings. A good service is when you cannot remember all the times that they are at your table but yet you know that you had nothing lacking. The glasses were filled unaware to us.

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For drinks, we ordered the Kingfisher Premium Lager. This is the most recognized beer and is very common in India. It has a light sweetish taste. It also looked very carbonated like some fizzy drink if you ask me. At just 4% alcohol content, this is served cold and refreshing … just sounded right with spicy curries.

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We got a couple of finger food to get the taste bud going. The Finger Paneer ($6.50) is house made cream cheese marinated with yogurt, ginger, garlic, spices and deep fried. Paneer is Indian cheese which doesn’t melt like the western ones.

Despite all the ingredients, it has a mild taste. It is the sauce that gives a little tanginess to it.

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The other appetizer is the Chili Pakora ($5). It has jalapeno pepper and onions marinated in a tangy batter and deep fried. This has a little spiciness to it and tasted better than the paneer fingers to tell the truth.

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We decided to get four mains to share and to go along with naan and rice.

The first is Lamb Bhoona ($13). For Suanne and I, we noticed that we had been gravitating towards lamb and pork as our choice of meat over chicken and beef these days. So we wanted to check this lamb dish out.

The lamb is cooked in a thick and spicy gravy with browned onions. This dish reminded us a lot of the … Continue reading

$2.95 Breakfast at Samosa Garden on Kingsway, Vancouver

Updated: 26th Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed.

We don’t normally eat out for breakfast. Breakfast at home is usually a simple affair of coffee and toast. Sometimes when Suanne feels like it, she will make a couple of sunny side up eggs. That’s all there is to our breakfasts.

However, earlier this month we went to Bon’s off Broadway for their $2.95 breakfast. At that time, we thought that they have the cheapest breakfast other than the IKEA $1 Breakfast. We were so wrong.

Since then we discovered that there are more places where they have $2.95 breakfasts. Tana of the Cheap Appetite blog reported that Yummy Sushi in Vancouver also have a $2.99 breakfast. That one looked very good.

Last week, I also found another place which is serving $2.95 breakfasts. Samosa Garden, located on Kingsway just west of Boundary, is more known for their buffet lunches has recently started to offer breakfasts too.

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They open for breakfast early at 7AM. I was the only customer the whole time I was there.

Samosa Garden used to be a very popular Indian buffet restaurant many years ago. In my previous company, we often chose to go to Samosa Garden when we have a team lunch or something like that. These days, I have not heard of anyone going there anymore. Instead, I know people are going to Saffron which is a couple of blocks away.

I remember that almost ten years ago Samosa Garden were so popular that the Malaysian Prime Minister actually ate here when he was in Vancouver.

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The setting was good. It was dark, cold and raining outside the morning I was there. It sure felt like Fall these days.

With being the only customer, I felt unrushed. It is just the way I love to start the day — slow and unrushed.

By the way, the $1.69 coffee was just OK — not great but just OK.

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Samosa Garden have a lot more breakfast options. Besides a few choices of omelettes, they even have traditional Indian breakfasts. I was there to check out their $2.95 breakfast … so yeah, I got that even though the traditional Indian breakfasts looked more interesting.

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The breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, two sausages, hash browns, toasts and interestingly, sweet grapes too. The breakfast was quite good. The two sausages is small Continue reading