East-side Indian eatery small but mighty good
Lovers of Indian food in Costa Rica have few restaurants to choose from. There’s the upscale Taj Mahal on the old road to Santa Ana, west of San José, Tin Jo downtown and, in eastern San José, Restaurante Gokul, specializing in traditional Hindu vegetarian cuisine.
This quaint little eatery sits on the covered front veranda of Giratablas Theater in Barrio La California. Mukunda Das, an ayurvedic chef from the western Indian state of Gujarat, for over four years has been offering very reasonably priced Indian favorites in his small soda-style restaurant. The atmosphere is friendly and homey, with bright yellow decor, half a dozen wooden tables and chairs, and Das frantically cooking in the open kitchen. The only help he has is Krista Keli, who waits tables and assists in the kitchen.
Saturday lunchtime proved busy, and we had a long wait for our meal as everything is freshly prepared and cooked. We ordered virtually all the choices on the menu, which proved a challenge for Das, but when it eventually arrived it was certainly worth the wait.
The fried vegetable samosas and pakoras were served with a tangy tamarind dipping sauce, and the freshly made naan and paratha flatbreads were delicious. The koftas (vegetable croquettes in a tomato sauce), chana masala (black chickpeas in a spicy sauce) and eggplant in tomato sauce were all superb. The only dish that didn’t get rave reviews was the mutter paneer, a dish of peas and cubes of fresh cheese in a masala sauce, which we found on the bland side. Prices for the above ranged ₡2,000-₡2,800 ($4-5.60).
The fresh fruit drinks and lassi yogurt drinks were very good. The restaurant also offers various kinds of chai, which we didn’t sample. The vegetarian daily special includes a fresh mixed salad and fruit drink for ₡3,000 ($6). It’s always in demand and looked extremely appetizing.
We all agreed that the food that comes out of chef Das’ little kitchen is delicious, and outstanding value for money. We will certainly be returning to this little corner of India. More good news: Das offers catering services and local delivery.
Location: Teatro Giratablas, 50 m west of Bagelmen’s and across from KFC in Los Yoses
Hours: 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday to Saturday
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