Rasoi – स्वागत करता हूं चबूतरा

Scott and Dave’s Review

Curry is not a spice, but is an all-purpose term devised by the English to cover the whole range of Indian food spicing.  Curries can be made of vegetables, fish, meat, chicken or lamb. Indian cooks utilize a wide variety of spices in different combination and amounts in order to produce a curry flavor.

Sanjiv Dhar, chef and owner of Kabob and Curry, opened Rasoi, his second restaurant in Providence, R.I. in October 2006.  In an effort to break what Dhar describes as the “curry taboo,” he and his staff prepare local northern Indian dishes (as well as many from several regions of India) that should even draw cheers from the Hindi community!

Our good friend Sasi joined us for lunch in order to help us navigate the unfamiliar Indian food waters. Sasi is a culinary “fire-eater” when it comes to spicy foods and we were initially apprehensive about his ability to make menu decisions for us that didn’t require a medic! Our concerns were quickly allayed when the food arrived perfectly prepared, spiced and balanced.

Bread Basket (choice of 3 breads – $7.99):  We chose the following Naan: Date and Coconut, Garlic and Cilantro, Honey and Ginger. All breads were a hit. They came expertly prepared and hot to the table. The Garlic and Cilantro Naan had just enough browning, not over crispy and with a very generous sprinkling of garlic. The Date and Coconut was a standout partly because we generally don’t like coconut and were surprised how strangely drawn to it we became!  You can’t go wrong with any Naan on the menu judging from the comments heard at the table.

Shrimp Moilee: Shrimp cooked in a creamy coconut sauce infused with turmeric and lemon juice ($15.99). One of our favorite dishes. If you love coconut you can’t go wrong with this sauce. I could have been happy just eating the Jasmine rice bathed in this sauce. The shrimp were a respectable in size and tender to the bite. Just the right mix of spice made this dish a standout. It came with a side of lentils (very tender lentils I might add) in a very flavorful sauce.

Chicken Tikka Lababdar: Yogurt, ginger, garlic marinated chicken tenders grilled and cooked in a classic tomato sauce. The all-time New Delhi favorite ($14.99).  This chicken dish was another winner. The red sauce along with the ingredients was an excellent compliment to the bite-size chicken tenders. I was impressed with the tenderness of the chicken, expecting them to be a bit chewy but Rasoi did not disappoint. Make sure you have ample Basmati rice to sop up that sauce!

Tandoori Chicken: Skinless whole chicken on bones, marinated in yogurt, ginger, garlic and red chili cooked slowly in a tandoor ($14.99). This dish, a staple of Indian restaurants was very tasty. I can’t look at the picture without salivating.  The pieces were moist and the charring was just right – no so much as to take away from the flavor of the spices. The color was beautiful on this dish. What a nice change to have chicken prepared in a Tandoor.

Lamb Curry: Cubed loins cooked with their signature Punjabi curry. Tempered with onion, tomatoes and garam masala ($14.99).

Mutton Masala: Halal choice on bones – Cooked slowly with Lucknowi spice blend of: green cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, and star anise ($17.99).

Fish Curry: Cooked with their signature Punjabi curry. Tempered with onion, tomatoes and garam masala ($14.99). The white fish was tender and moist.

Attention all vegetarians! If you’ve missed the restaurant train on Indian food, there are at least 10 menu entrées for the choosing. If you are currently a vegetarian-wannabe, Rasoi may tip the scales for you.

The best thing about Rasoi is that the food is unpretentious in presentation but complex in preparation. In order to serve full flavored Indian Cuisine, the quality of the ingredients and spices can never be compromised and Rasoi does not fail to deliver.  This was a good eating day for the Rhode Crew!

727 East Avenue Pawtucket, RI 02860 | Phone: 401-728-5500

O Dinis Restaurant

Scott and Dave’s Review

Did you know that the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (defeated ballot amendment!) holds the distinct honor of maintaining the highest percentage of Portuguese population in the country? From a culinary prospective, that’s a huge advantage.  Our little state is an ethnic restaurant powerhouse in the Portuguese arena.

The Rhode Crew was fortunate to be joined by our friends Rose and Judy for this meal. Both sisters are first generation Portuguese Americans and had recommended O Dinis for our review. Once Rose and Judy began ordering for us, we just sat back, tucked in a napkin and let the adventure unfold. For those of you who are without Portuguese friends to help navigate your culinary waters, it about time you started looking!

Here’s our recommendation, add O Dinis to your short list of places to eat! O what a find!  The sauces alone are worthy of a stand-alone entrée with a side of fresh Portuguese rolls for dipping. Let’s get right into some of our favorites:

Bacalhau na Brasa ($14.95) Grilled salted Cod with boiled potatoes topped with garlic and onions sautéed in olive oil. The fish texture was smooth, white, firm and perfectly executed.  This is an excellent menu choice that must not be overlooked.

Carne de Porco à Alentejana ($13.95) – Marinated Pork and fried potatoes with steamed Littlenecks. This was a great dish. You can’t go wrong with the ingredients: marinated pork, potatoes, littlenecks, whole olives and roasted peppers. There was no skimping on the marinated pork as the picture will attest. Everything worked well together. We’ll admit that our experience with this dish is limited and believe that the correct tenderness of the pork could have been a touch more tender. Still, this dish was very good and a great value for under $15.

Espetada de Camarão e Lulas ($13.95) – Grilled Shrimp, Squid and perfectly charred peppers on a Kabob. Ours came with sliced squid – instead of rings, the squid pieces were the ends of the squid tube –obviously much easier to skewer! This was all served over a bed of rice in the phenomenal shrimp sauce (a light red, garlic and lemon concoction). Everything was tender and not overcooked. Watch out for those shoestring fries, they’re very addicting!

Bife à Casa ($13.95) – Pan-Seared Sirloin steak in a beer and garlic sauce served with French fries, an egg and rice. Our only issue with this dish was that we had to share. There’s only so much egg you can savor with steak when you’re sharing with 5 people. Regardless, we were very impressed with the portion size and the thickness of the steak. It had to be greater than a half inch in thickness and the tenderness was perfect.  We have had quite a few ethnic steak dishes priced around the $10-$15 range and most were ¼ to 1/3” in thickness and usually on the well-done side. The brown sauce was a great compliment to the dish, only enhancing the elements and not overwhelming the main attraction.

We ordered a superb Portuguese red wine – Quinta de Cabriz – Dão ($16.00) which was well balanced, full fruit, and aromatic. A escolha perfeita para acompanhar o nosso almoço (The perfect choice to accompany our lunch)!

Our waitress Isabel (Queen Isabel – as she requested we address her) advised us that all the desserts on the menu were terrific, and judging by what we ordered, the “Queen” may have been right all along. The Bolo De Bolacha (Portuguese Cookie Cake) which included Maria Brand Biscuits, butter, sugar, coffee all baked into a very delicious dessert choice. Additionally we ordered Queijadas de Feijao (Portuguese Bean Tarts) which were absolutely a favorite.  This pie was sweet, dense, and rich with hints of caramel throughout.

This was a great dining experience right down to the very friendly and engaging team of waitresses. O Dinis has that down-home authenticity and atmosphere one would expect from our state’s diverse, ethnic culinary treasures. For those of you that are not Portuguese and are unfamiliar with the cuisine don’t hesitate to try this jewel. For those of you who are Portuguese; “bravo, muito bem!”

579 Warren Avenue
East Providence, RI 02914-2816
(401) 438-3769

Los Andes

Dave’s Review

Peru may offer some of the most exciting cuisine in Latin America. The gastronomy claims its good fortune thanks to some significantly important factors: supportive climate conducive for flourishing vegetation, geographic location relative to the mountains and ocean, and the country’s willingness to meld contemporary cookery from a diverse immigrant influence of Spanish, African, Asian and European into their ancient Peruvian ones.

The staples of Peruvian and Bolivian (as well as much of South America) cuisine are corn, potatoes and beans. Although similar in staples, regional cuisine does vary from country to country and city to city because the preparation of ingredients, variations in spices, and cooking techniques are influenced by four continents of culture and 200 years of colonization.

La bienvenida a Los Andes Restaurante! Bolivian born, second-generation Brothers Cesin and Omar Curi are carrying on a family restaurant tradition in a delicious manner!

Ceviche! Cerviche! I liked it so intimately I had to write it twice. Los Andes packs a martini glass  with Tilapia, squid, shrimp, mussels in a citrus, cilantro, red onion, garlic marinade.  A fresh, flavorful and perfectly balanced appetizer well worth the trip alone.

On a more adventurous note, Cesin insisted we try a classic Peruvian and Bolivian street food – Anticucho de Corazon (small pieces of grilled skewered meat marinated in garlic, onion, cilantro chopped, vinegar, lemon juice – I believe) served over roasted potatoes with a creamy mint and goat cheese sauce. Classically, the meat is beef heart. In this case it was beef heart. Now before you fade away into obscurity, try to put this into perspective. The heart is a muscular organ that shares the  similar textures and mild taste of all the other muscles. If you think your beloved steak is not a muscle, think again.  Also, lets not be hypocritical regarding the foods we are willingly eat. For example, common hot dogs and/or lunch meat ingredients include meat by-products, fat, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite. Beef heart ingredient; beef heart. By the way, the Anticucho de Corazon was terrific.

An additional standout appetizer was the homemade Saltenas (Bolivian chicken pie) made from a sweet corn pastry dough and stuffed with chicken, peas, olives and potatoes.  Served with spicy pico – jalapenos and garlic relish. This flawlessly prepared baked “pot pie” is exciting enough to make you forget that you just ate beef heart!

As if the appetizer courses were not enough, Cesin brought out a sampling of all four Bolivian soups on the menu: Fricasé – pork and hominy in a spicy broth, Sopa de Mani – peanut soup with beef, Locro – Chicken, rice, plantains and/or potatoes, and Chairo –beef and barley with vegetables.  Although the broth in all samples was one-note in flavor, they were all bountiful and had a good taste.

Of course there were entrees; the pieza de resistencia!  The Pique a lo macho – steak and chorizo with tomato, onion and pepper in a spicy wine sauce served over thick cut french fries. This hearty dish was quite good. Including sautéed tomato was an excellent way to help cut the heaviness of this dish. The sauce was a bit over-salted, especially in light of using chorizo.

Parillada a Los Andes – ‘grilled’ meats – rib eye, beef short rib, chicken thigh, sausage, served with yucca, cheesy rice and ensalada rusa (potato salad) – diced potatoes, vegetables (peas and carrots), and red onion. This dish was brought out with a side table and a portable burner to keep warm. I’d be willing to bet that this could have fed a family of four! The meats were simply grilled and perfectly spiced.

The Pescado a lo macho (fried tilapia, shrimp, squid, mussels and clams in a beer based broth with tomato and a side of rice) was a clear favorite. The fish was fresh and flawlessly prepared. Regardless of where you dine, the freshness of the fish and the attention paid to properly cooking it should never be compromised.

Los Andes is a winner because the quality of the fish was superb, the Curi’s hospitality was sincere, and the prices were enviable.

Chris’s Review

Quite often, the places you wouldn’t hang after dark have some of the most authentic and unique food.  When Rhode Crew founding member David e-mailed me of our next review spot, I thought this would be an opportunity to head to a part of Providence that I would not normally frequent and savor some of the local grub.

Bolivian and Peruvian restaurant, Los Andes on Chalkstone Ave. would provide me with a meal fit for a Bolivian King.   We didn’t pretend to know anything about the cuisine choosing to utilize the friendly and knowledgeable staff to educate us on the menu and the different offerings.

As an avid TV viewer of all things food, one of my favorite TV takes is Food Networks’ “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” It is a show that highlights certain celebrity chefs’ favorite bites across this great land.  I recently experienced one of those moments at Los Andes.  Repeat after me “salteñas”!! I know it sounds like a Spanish term for a soup cracker, but it is something special and Los Andes restaurant is the purveyor of these gems.  A salteña is a Bolivian version of a chicken pot pie, but with a twist.  The dough is a cross between a corn muffin and a pie crust resulting in a sweetness that is a wonderful contrast to the spicy chicken filling. They were the first thing we tried and for $2 it took all my power not to order 6 of them for my meal and nothing else.  They only thing that kept me from following through was my desire to try other ethnic dishes and the fact that we ordered a tremendous amount of food.

The next offering was a sampling of all of the soups that Los Andes offers. I would order each one of them, but for the sake of time and space I would recommend the Fricase.  This soup contains slow cooked pork butt in a spicy broth with hominy.  It was delicious.  I was not in a seafood mood initially, but the Ceviche’ Martini quickly changed my thought process.  An exotic combination of seafood, citrus and cilantro, this refreshing appetizer and traditional South American staple was well represented here.  Following my sudden change of heart and newfound seafood craving, the entrée that I enjoyed the most was a dish called “Pescado a lo macho”.  This was a potpourri of seafood including fried tilapia, squid, mussels, and clam in a spiced beer and tomato broth was outstanding.  All I can say is don’t be intimidated by the location.  Broaden your horizons and palate by venturing out to Los Andes.

903 Chalkstone Ave Providence RI 02908 (401) 649-4911