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Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant

This entry is part of a series, Restaurants»

Spices

I’ve been home from India for a few weeks now, and although I’ve cooked some nice curries since, I don’t have the time (or the appetite) to make several entrées and all the trimmings for a simple lunch.

So I’m lucky that I have a great Indian buffet place only ten minutes away…

Chola Indian Restaurant has an understated facade, one of several routine-looking restaurants in a modest strip mall of restaurants. It doesn’t even have any street frontage, as the small complex faces onto a large parking lot shared with a massive Home Depot.

Don’t let Chola’s innocuous exterior fool you! The food’s delicious.

Chola serves a substantial buffet for lunch, and dinner is a la carte. I prefer the buffet, if only for the variety. Friday was no exception! I needed several home repair items, so I found myself nearby just at lunchtime; what a coincidence! And I never abstain when Providence provides.

I knew I was just ahead of the lunch rush, so I parked and headed in.

Even before I could get into the foyer the aromas of spices, herbs and naan bread almost gave me lockjaw from trying to keep the drool off of my Aloha shirt. (I always dress to kill on casual Fridays; or at least the color clashes cause temporary blindness in some weaker individuals.) I could hardly wait to be shown to a table, and I didn’t sit down before heading off to the buffet table. Life’s too short to wait for stuff this good!

I started out with some veggies and some rasam soup (one of two daily soups; the other was sambar). I also grabbed some small bowls of chutneys: tamarind, coconut, mint, and onion. Then I glanced out the window and noticed, to my horror, that a large group was approaching the doorway of the restaurant! I quickly moved to the buffet line; I knew there would be a big delay if I got behind this bunch of Dell employees.

The buffet line was freshly stocked with goodies. The front portion held the soups and the veggie dishes: Gobhi ka Pakora (lightly breaded, fried cauliflower), Medu Vada (savory little donut-looking morsels), Rajma (red kidney bean curry), Kadai Bhindi Masala (okra curry), Idli (small, white discs of rice and lentil flour) and Saag Paneer (spinach and cheese). I enjoyed the vada, not so much the idli (I didn’t really enjoy them in India either, though they’re nicely made), and I had seconds on the cauliflower. Or maybe thirds.

The non-veg end of the buffet also had some of my favorite curries: Chicken Chettinad (tomato-chicken curry), Chilli Chicken (with onions and bell peppers), a meaty Goat Curry, Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala. There were mounds of fluffy Rice Pilaf and piles of naan bread separating the vegetarian from non-vegetarian buffet areas.

I didn’t find any of the curries good enough to go back for fourths. Besides, the owner and his bouncer-looking floor helpers were watching me closely by this time, and frowning. I really, really liked the Chilli Chicken, and of course the tikka masala is a favorite of everybody’s. Goat Curry is really only for those who like a bit stronger-flavored dish, but I found the spices used balanced the meat taste very nicely. All the dishes were well-prepared, fresh and served piping hot, unlike some buffets that might let things get old or cold.

For dessert I tried a little Sweet Pongal and some Ras Jamun. There was a nice server of Kheer available, but I found I was out of room. I guess that leaves something to try next time!

With memories of India still fresh, I found the food at Chola to be authentic and tasty, with all the spice and flavors you could ever want. I give them top marks, and I haven’t had better Indian food in the Austin metro area yet.

I heartily recommend Chola Indian Restaurant to you…

Chola Indian on Urbanspoon

Enjoy the (North and South Indian) Heat!

Entries in this series:
  1. Cool River Café and Southwestern Poblano Soup
  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
  13. Phil's Ice House, an Austin-Weird Place for Great Burgers
  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
  15. A Sedate Spring Lunch at Zed’s
  16. Looking for a Taste of Germany? Well, We Tried…
  17. Fresh and Tasty Tex-Mex, Prepared by a Grandma
  18. The HomeField (Grill) Advantage
  19. Dinner for One: Sometimes the Good Stuff is Right Under Your Nose
  20. Smoky Heaven in Round Rock: Johnny T’s BBQ
  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
  22. The Quest Begins Anew (Just Pho Me): Mai Lien Bistro
  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
  25. It’s Good, It’s Italian, and You Don’t Have to Go to Europe to Get It
  26. Casa G’s for Lunch (Hint: It’s Awesome)
  27. Chola Indian Restaurant: A Good Indian Eatery Gets Better
  28. Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…
  29. Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen
  30. Late Lunch at Mandola’s Italian Market; Worth the Wait…
  31. I Didn’t Know Sichuan, China Included Round Rock
  32. Sunday Brunch at Pecan Street Station; Good Choice…
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  39. Z’Tejas, a Wonderful Place for Brunch and Clan Revelry
  40. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Round Rock: Great Meat; As For the Rest…
  41. LongHorn Steakhouse Round Rock: A New Family Favorite
  42. Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock: More Than Finger-Licking Good
  43. Drinks and Snacks on the Deck at McCormick & Schmick’s
  44. Going Back Pho More at a Local Favorite
  45. Swagat Indian: A Disappointment With a Few Bright Spots
  46. Branch BBQ in Wells Branch: A Local Secret?
  47. Karrrazy, Man: Kublai Khan Crazy Mongolian Stir Fry
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