At first, we were perplexed by the crowd at Sitar India restaurant in Philadelphia. After all it was barely noon on a week day and there were so many people at this restaurant.
Our doubts were quickly clarified once we started digging into the food.
Located on South 38th St (just off Chestnut St), Sitar India is one of the few Indian restaurants in Philadelphia that knows its curries well. Most of the dishes we tried were hits with only a couple of misses.
We had little to complain about both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Chicken Tikka Masala was delicious with just the right tinge of spiciness as was Goat Curry. However, we cannot say the same thing about Tandoori Chicken which was cold and lacked any flavor.
Vegetarians can take delight in Sitar India's Baigan Bharta, an eggplant dish cooked on skewers in a clay oven. Although not great fans of eggplant, this was one of the few occassions when we lapped it up. It was that good. Alu Mutter was on the bland side but Lentils and Sag Channa amply made up for it.
For appetizers, we had a few Spinach Ghota (spinach dipped in spiced chickpea batter and fried). The Ghotas are like your Pakoras but taste better with green chutney, mint chutney or tamarind sauce on the side.
What sets Sitar India apart from the gaggle of mediocre Indian restaurants in Philadelphia is that it knows its spices well. With a few exceptions, our food was neither bland nor too spicy. It was just right - a difficult feat to achieve for Indian restaurants in Philadelphia and elsewhere.
Besides the Tandoori Chicken, the other big disappointment at Sitar India was Gajar Halwa, a staple dessert at most Indian restaurants in the U.S. Gajar Halwa had the raw smell of carrots and didn't seem to have been cooked well. After eating a couple of spoons of Gajar Halwa, we left the rest in the cup. But the Fruit Custard made up for the bad Gajar Halwa.
We topped off our meal with a cup of hot Masala Tea (Tea flavored with Indian spices, Cardamon and Cinamon).
Sitar India has a fairly extensive menu that adequately covers Vegetarian, Chicken, Lamb and Sea Food.
This restaurant also offers the standard Indian desserts such as Kulfi, Ras Malai, Gulab Jamun, Badam Kheer and Gajar Halwa. On the beverages front, besides the ubiquitous Lassi there's also Masala Tea and Sodas.
The restaurant is fairly spacious with prompt service.
The restaurant serves a Lunch Buffet for $7.95 and a Dinner Buffet for $10.95. Students get a 20% discount if they show their IDs - © PhillyIndia.us