by Andrew Chalk
Irving is one of the two top destinations in the Dallas area for Indian food (the other being Plano). However, most establishments are content to survive on a combination of a lunchtime steam table and an à la carte evening menu constructed around stereotypical Indian dishes (much as hoards of Italian neighborhood restaurants turn out an endless repertoire of “me-too” red sauce dishes).
As much as I love the bargain that is the Indian lunch buffet and the favorites on the stereotypical Indian menu, my greatest excitement is engendered by the discovery of a restaurant doing something new, even bordering on ambitious.
Underground Indian Cuisine, an occupant of the basement of a dull office building in the ‘passthru’ area of Las Colinas, may just fit the latter description if they stick to their guns. The evening à la carte menu is packed with dishes that are either Dumpukht style or unusual expressions of what, on its face, is something you can find in other Indian restaurants across town.
For example “Home Style Tamato (sic) Soup” (Tamatar Ka Chatpata Shorba), $4, is spicy hot and laden with coriander seeds. The result is a richer and more faceted soup than other Indian tomato soups that I have found in town.
The cooking is generally careful too. This is important for dishes hanging on their herb and spice ingredients. A case in point is the “mutton chops marinated in black cardamom, cumin seed, raw papaya and yogurt. Roasted in clay oven till mouth melting soft (sic)” (Barrah Chop), $14. It is a succulent and devilishly subtle dish in the hands of chef/proprietor Amit Paul, who trained in the same kitchen in Hyderabad as Vijay Sadhu (Bukhara Grille/Samar/Sutra/Pepper Smash).
There were some missteps, however. “Mix Veg. Pakora”, $5, was deep fried with a batter so thick that it rendered the vegetable content inscrutable to anyone but the NSA.
Notwithstanding this, Underground Indian Cuisine is worth an evening visit, and they are BYOB as well (welcome in a town with few such places). The popular lunch is the standard steam table and good value at around $12. However, it is with the evening à la carte menu that the restaurant shows its paces.