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Introduction

Sometimes, an Indian restaurant is a proverbial gastronomic life raft when you are abroad. Say you find yourself in rural France, or some suburban setting in Finland, and you begin wonder what on Earth you’ll be eating. Ideally you want something recognizable and edible. It may sound small-minded of us, perhaps downright provincial, that we prefer comfort over adventure. But that’s simply not the case. It’s just that sometimes, during a trip, all you want is plentiful food that tastes good, is easily understood, and easily enjoyed so you can get on with life, and feel happy. That’s where the Taj Mahals, India Gates, Saffron Houses and Taste of Indias of the world come in. They nourish you. They save you.

Spain’s Valencia municipality is no different: we’ve found an astonishing number of Indian restaurants here. Interesting, considering we didn’t think there would be a single one, largely by taking into account that our hotel is in a highway rest stop. But since Indian restaurants surround us, we intend to visit as many as possible during our time here. For your collective edification, we’ll be reviewing and comparing each of these eateries. Each night, Daniel will order Chicken Tikka Masala, Sag Paneer, a Mango lassi and a mixed pickle. Klaus will order Garlic Naan and Ali Gobi.

Located in the Gran Alacant shopping mall, the Gallery Indian Restaurant is easy to find. Because it’s pretty much on a highway rest stop (which, based on our hotels, feels comfortingly familiar). Visitors will be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds that surround this eatery. Imagine a Japanese arcade, double its capability to deliver sensory overload and you’ll understand what we’re talking about. As you walk through the mall looking for the restaurant arcade games beep and flash and children run around water fountains that blast Back Eyed Peas from what we can only guess are magical, underwater (or at least water proof) speakers. As a response to all this, after walking to the second floor of this rest stop mall, we asked to be seated inside.

Our table was comfortable, and the décor your average Indian restaurant fare. Bedazzled paintings of peacocks and the like. The bathroom had a sliding door that, even when fully closed left a six-inch gap, allowing passers by to see you perfectly as you did your business. It did have a latch though (yay)… but the latch didn’t work (ugh).

No choice was given with regards to spice level. Due to the high humidity in the air, the papadum that was brought to our table went from being crispy to having the consistency of Play-Doh within seconds. The familiar three-chutney tray was brought to the table, but was promptly removed. I felt that the tamarind chutney was made out of ketchup and Tabasco sauce.

 

Klaus’ Notes

 

  1. The aloo gobi portion was generous and surprisingly good. What it lacked in fresh cilantro, it made up for in its flavor. Impressive, considering that the spice level was on the weak side.
  2. The garlic naan was a bit disappointing, and whatever flour was used to make it differed greatly from that which we’ve become accustomed to in North America.

 

Daniel’s Notes

 

  1. I love it when they put an ice cube in your mango lassi. Also, the glass and the straw can have a major impact on your lassi experience; this place nailed both. Simple, straight forward equipment. Also, it was not too sweet. Lassis are ALMOST ALWAYS too sweet. The other thing about a lassi is it comes out first, sometimes before the papadam, it’s like a canary in your personal Indian coal mine. When I got this lassi I was like wow, even though we’re basically in an arcade in an above-ground strip mall in a freeway rest area, this dinner is maybe going to be amazing.
  2. The mixed pickle was PERFECT. Not too salty. Some lime but mostly mango.
  3. The chicken tikka masala was amazing. Fresh ginger and almond slices. Creamy but not too rich. Great color. Good portions. Wow, when it’s good it’s good.
  4. Palak panner, as you know, can get weird in the color and cheese departments. Nobody wants a neon green spinach with rubber cheese for dinner. Like the tikka masala, this dish tasted fresh and had great coloring. The mouth feel was silky. Also it tasted fucking great.