Many consider the Mission Valley area North of the 8 Freeway stretching from Fenton Parkway until Old Town to be Chain Restaurant and Fast Food Hell. In fact, Ed from Yuma in one of His most inspired moments described a certain area of Mission Valley this way; "From a chowhound standpoint, Hotel Circle may as well be one of Dante's circles of Hell." Has to be one of the best lines I've heard. At first glance all you see is PF Chang's, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Carl's Jr, Bennigan's, Fuddruckers, and the Food Courts from the 2 shopping centers that occupy a large portion of the valley. But there are a few interesting choices in Mission Valley. Tandoor Indian Cuisine, formerly KC's Tandoor, is located in the Ralph's and Long's strip mall bordered by Mission Center Road and Friars Road.
In fact, this was the restaurant that made the Tandoori Chicken that the Missus was so infatuated with, and eventually burned-out on that I mentioned in an earlier post. Now, with Indian food back in our rotation, we finally paid a return visit to the latest incarnation of this Indian Restaurant. Tandoor Indian Cuisine, is one of several little restaurants huddled together forming a "food court" of sorts in the middle of this strip mall. As a matter of fact, a new location of El Portal is a few doors down from Tandoor.
Though the ownership of the restaurant had changed, other then an expanded menu, just about everything else seemed the same. Unfortunately, this includes the aloof and sometimes downright rude service. As in: "can you hurry up and make up your mind and order", when there's no other customer in the restaurant except me. I guess it's "Mission Valley Burnout" caused by crazy lunch hour traffic. "Don't go away mad; just go away...." You know, I rather enjoy eating meat, but don't take pleasure being treated like a piece of it!
On this visit I had 4 piece Tandoori Chicken Combination($7.99), with Rice Pulao(Basmati Rice), and Dal as my side orders:
All combination plates also include a piece of Naan. There were 2 small thighs and 2 small drumsticks, that were moist and tender and cooked in the tandoor located on one side of the restaurant.(White meat .75 more each piece) Today, the slightly charred areas of the chicken tasted good (cancer be damned!!!), though the overall flavoring of the chicken was somewhat bland, and not as good as we recalled. The distinct mildly smokey taste we remembered was missing. As the Tandoori chicken here has never been especially spicy nor herbaceous, any missing flavor component was especially evident. The rice was dry, and the Dal, was well dull, just overly watery.
The Missus ordered the Lamb Curry Plate($6.79):
Along with the Lamb, the plate included Naan, Rice, Dal, and Raita(yogurt and cucumber dip). The lamb was very soft and tender, the Missus enjoyed the flavor of the lamb and curry, which I thought was a bit on the watery side and found the tomato based curry a bit odd.
The hit of the day was the Garlic Naan($1.99), which we ordered in addition to the Naan included in the plates:
The Naan was rolled out and cooked in the Tandoor to order and you get it hot and crusty. It also helps that there is always a generous amount of garlic and herbs on the naan. I usually enjoy watching the Naan cook in the Tandoor, but this time the Cook gave me an annoyed look when I moved over to watch him. I guess the attitude was transferred along with the ownership of the restaurant. We probably won't be back, at least until we're prepared to deal with the attitude again, which may be a while.
Some Notes: Tandoor is not a sit-down restaurant, but closer to a "fast-casual" style eatery. There's a Saturday Dinner Buffet and Sunday Brunch for $7.99. The menu is quite extensive with over 70 items. The strip mall that Tandoor is located in can be a real zoo during lunch hours and during holiday season. Getting back to Friars Road from the parking lot can also be somewhat frustrating at times.
Tandoor Indian Cuisine
5608 Mission Center Road
San Diego, CA 92108
Open Daily 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM