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Ambience in the "New Indian" restaurant


Suvir Saran
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"To propel the cuisine to the next phase here in the US, we have to understand why it's stuck in a rut. What haven't restauranteurs done well to make it more acceptable. The biggest hindrance, I find, is the atmosphere in Indian restaurants. I characterize it as the single biggest reason for the stagnancy. Certain stereotypes:

1. The restaurants, kitchens included, in general are dirty as hell

2. The service is horrendous

(there are to many more generalizations to add)"

The above is quoted from a very relevant and poignant post made by eGulleteer Rks in the Indian Restaurant in NYC thread.

What do you think about this?

Do you think these are issues that ought to be addressed?

Do you think these are issues that haunt Indian restaurants, or are they non-issues?

What would you do if you agree with the above quote in addressing these issues?

What do you think would be the impact on the Indian restaurant business if the key players in the business make a concerted effort to address these issues?

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If the stereotype is about the Bangladeshi 6th St. restaurants, then I could not comment with any recent experience, since I visited them couple of times, when I first moved to E20s in the mid-80s.

With respect to Kosher Indian places that I have been to, they are mainly South Indian fare and under go City as well as religious inspections regularly. There is no Glatt-Kosher Indian yet.

Ambience - There used to be a beautiful bank building opposite Grand Central on 42nd. Classical interior, great marble, carvings etc. Few years back Ciprianis bought (or maybe leased) it and now is used for banquets - Excellent Indian and Asian fare is served when Asia Society holds its fundraisers at one grand a pop :shock::shock: That is ambience. I'd love that :biggrin:

As a non-restauranteur, I'll take good food over decor,service,and eye candy :wub: anyday. O.K. most of the days :biggrin: I have human failings.....

anil

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Suvir,

I read with intesrest 'Indian Restaurant in NYC' and coupled with 'Ambience in the New Indian Restaurant' may I present the following humble observations.

Indian cuisine and Indian food is definetly not stuck in a rut.

Look around you, has the number of Indian restaurants grown?? In my area, tenfold in as many years and they are all doing well. The offerings and their quality may be debatable but there certainly has been expansion. Look at the shelves at the grocery stores with the variety of ready to eat Indian entrees. Look at the local caterers offering Indian selections as a matter of routine. They used to contract out to local restaurants but cook it themselves now. Even the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble now carry a much larger selection of Indian cookbooks.

Are Indian Restaurants and kitchens Dirty ?

Here is scope for improvement. Restaurants as everyone is aware have to undergo routine inspections from the health department and Indian restaurants( I believe) actually tend to get a slightly tougher inspection as mostly the operation is conducted on a ' prep and hold basis ' where basic curries are prepared in advance to be finished off later at the time of recieving an order. There is the chance of food ( meats specially) being in the danger temp zone for a longer period which the health department frowns upon.

The ' front of the house' is generally what the guest opinion/perception based on, as one feels that if its not clean outside it must be dirty inside.

The key to cleanliness I believe is education and training. and constant continued training and this is where owners/managers have to step in. Explaining to the server why blowing on the papadams to get rid of loose bits is not good for the customer or why wiping a plate with a dirty rag is not going to clean it.

But at the same time even though Chinese restaurants/kitchens have reputation for being dirty it is among the most popular in the US.

Regarding Ambience I would like to share the following,

A few years ago the National Restaurant Association conducted a survey where they asked restaurant patrons, owners, managers to priortise restaurant attributes like ambience, service, location, food, personable owner etc. etc which attracted ( or should sttract, in case of owners/mgr) them to their favorite places.

While the owners/managers rated rated ambience, location, service etc at the top, the patron ( accross all age groups, gender and income levels) invariably put FOOD on top.

And in the Restaurants in NYC thread both Anil and Pan confirmed it.

I am not saying that ambience is not important only that if you have good food then good ambience is " Sone pe suhaga" ( can you translate that Suvir)

It might be interesting to look at Indian restaurants in India.

Each comes up with a different mix of ambience, food offerings, price range etc. They have a slightly different formula they are working with and I think that is the way to go in the US also, as one mould will not fit all.

A visit to India is also educative with respect to Fustion Cuisine as while we are racking our brains here they already have some very interesting concepts in the market right now.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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BBhasin, you raise all very good points. Thanks for spending a great amount of your time in sharing with us at eGullet.

I agree with you that Indian cuisine is not stuck in a rut. But I also believe Indian cuisine is far from the point where it should be if it were at its prime in the US. What Indian restaurants do with Indian cuisine across India is amazing. And it would behoove the Indian restaurant players outside of India to study the trends in India. In fact, even in Singapore, I was amazed at how lively, fresh and clean the restaurants were and also how many new trends were shaping up. Not so in the US, and it is towards that which we hope these threads can take us. I applaud and humbly thank every owner, chef, server, busboy, dish washer, busser, host, manager and other employee of all Indian restaurants thus far. Their hardwork, their contributions of time, effort and sharing have taken Indian cuisine to a place it would not have had otherwise. But now that Indian food has reached a significant group of Americans, I believe the logical next step is to really look within from the outside, understand the market of today, understand how it would view us in the next decade and only then can we really get a grasp on what the masses really would want from Indian cuisine. Thus, it is time now to really have this deeper conversation within the community and outside of it. How can it hurt.

"Are Indian Restaurants and kitchens Dirty ?

Here is scope for improvement. Restaurants as everyone is aware have to undergo routine inspections from the health department and Indian restaurants( I believe) actually tend to get a slightly tougher inspection as mostly the operation is conducted on a ' prep and hold basis ' where basic curries are prepared in advance to be finished off later at the time of recieving an order. There is the chance of food ( meats specially) being in the danger temp zone for a longer period which the health department frowns upon.

The ' front of the house' is generally what the guest opinion/perception based on, as one feels that if its not clean outside it must be dirty inside.

The key to cleanliness I believe is education and training. and constant continued training and this is where owners/managers have to step in. Explaining to the server why blowing on the papadams to get rid of loose bits is not good for the customer or why wiping a plate with a dirty rag is not going to clean it.

But at the same time even though Chinese restaurants/kitchens have reputation for being dirty it is among the most popular in the US."

Do you really believe they are tougher on Indian restaurants? What makes you think so? What do you think happens when they inspect Chinese kitchens? How do Indian restaurants tackle this situation? What are things a smart restaurant does to ensure no violations? Would you mind sharing... Please.

What steps do you think the most humble of Indian restaurants is taking to educate their staff about different standards of cleanliness and hygiene between them and the customer? Is it something an employer can really tackle sufficiently without fear of being litigated against? Yes Chinese cooking is very popular, but does that popularity change the sterotype that is deeply rooted? No. Can we not strive to be popular without having a negative stereotype? Do you think it is workable to live with one? Or does it not matter too much?

I had a friend travel to India and they came back telling me that in their travels to foreign lands, even the poorest of poor Indian had greater personal hygiene than most other natives of foreign lands. I was shocked by this statement. I think of so much of India as being ridden with dirt, slush, filth.. (whilst so much more is dreamy and magical) that I could hardly believe they were being honest. But then they explained to me how even in the filthiest of settings, the personal hygiene was kept clean and was something very important. I do agree with that, our religions have placed great importance on the concept of taking great care of our hygiene. They also noted that even the poorest of Indian was wearing clothes that had perfect creases and seemd to have been washed just before that day and ironed, something they had not seen across many cultures, again, it is I think so much a part of being Indian. They noted that even beggars who seem to have been exaggerating and cashing in on physical maladies, were dressed neatly, even when wearing torn and poor clothes. Again, it touches on the intrinsic understanding the masses have about cleanliness. They also noted how the houses inside were very clean, but sadly, just outside the house, there were piles of garbage, a telling sign that personal hygiene was important, but what happens outside may not be as crucial. My question for myself and the rest of us, how can we bring this respect for personal hygiene into the world of Indian restaurants and translate that into respect for the hygiene of the restaurants, its employees and the patrons. If we can do this, we do have a great thing going for us.

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Regarding Ambience I would like to share the following,

A few years ago the National Restaurant Association conducted a survey where they asked restaurant patrons, owners, managers to priortise restaurant attributes like ambience, service, location, food, personable owner etc. etc which attracted ( or should sttract, in case of owners/mgr) them to their favorite places.

While the owners/managers rated rated ambience, location, service etc at the top, the patron ( accross all age groups, gender and income levels) invariably put FOOD on top.

And in the Restaurants in NYC thread both Anil and Pan confirmed it.

I am not saying that ambience is not important only that if you have good food then good ambience is " Sone pe suhaga" ( can you translate that Suvir)

It might be interesting to look at Indian restaurants in India.

Each comes up with a different mix of ambience, food offerings, price range etc. They have a slightly different formula they are working with and I think that is the way to go in the US also, as one mould will not fit all.

A visit to India is also educative with respect to Fustion Cuisine as while we are racking our brains here they already have some very interesting concepts in the market right now.

" Sone pe suhaga" I believe Monica Bhide had translated it very beautifully for another thread. Maybe she can do so again. I was amazed at her translation being very acurate and yet true. Please help Monica! :smile:

I could not agree more with the NRA study. I feel the ambience and the food quality need to be at levels that are compatible and in synch with each other. You can hardly find success in a great setting with terrible food or in a poor setting with great food. Actually, you can get by with serving great food in a poor setting if you charge less, but the reverse would not be possible.

I feel the new Indian restaurant must have a perfect balance of both. Come on, we can do it. Mandala (the precursor to Feng Shui) comes from our land, we know about the need for balance. Whilst Indian restaurants in India have made great strides in creating amazing spaces, Indian restaurants in the US have almost very few establishes spaces that would even remotely come close to that more successful counterpart in India. Why? I would say it is really a lack of either the desire to do something different, a lack of vision or exposure, or maybe just the most common symptom, an ease in going with the flow and not stirring the pot. But these are hardly the reasons why we cannot change the rhythm. I think again, time is ripe and tomorrow that looks to us, could be one that would give us a hearty welcome and a warm embrace if we bring it something well thought of and with great balance between all the many things that make a good restaurant tick.

A visit to India is educational in many ways. In fact, in all my travels, I learn most from my travels within India. That country, with endless languages, religions, sects, castes, colors of people, cultures and social makeup, offers more in one small country than many much larger land masses have to offer put together. So, I happen to agree with you yet again. India teaches me everytime I go back something new about itself. I discover a new ancient way of thinking, a new ancient song, dance, poem, ballad or language. There is something for everyone. The rich are more lavish than any one will ever see anywhere, the poor smiling far more brilliantly than anyone anywhere and it is the balance between these sorrows, victories, failures, successes and the give and take between things so different and yet so close that makes India tick.

Thus, it is easy for Fusion to find more success in India than anywhere else. India has never had minds fused into a singular way of thinking. Ours is not the country with only bipartisan participation in its political process. India has as many parties as communities in some areas. It makes the polarizing of India in any one direction a very difficult task. Today, even poverty in India is slowly (sadly) but surely (thank goodness) becoming a thing of the past. So India is ancient, modern, vibrant and poor all at the same time. India is Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Parsee (and Jewish at one time) and many other religions at the same time. India is playing fusion with every breath it breathes, every day it lives and every sunrise it sees. Fusion is India. And fusion in India is ingrained in its fabric for millenia. How could it then not be successful in playing with fusion at the tables of its restaurants.

BBhasin, can you share some examples of this fusion that you found pleasing? Can you also tell us where you enjoyed these? Thanks!

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May I add a note that applies to all restaurants, not just Indian? The problem of noise. In general I think that Indian restaurants are not the worst offenders, but since the question of ambience in general has been raised, noise too should be on the list.

I remember reading some years ago that restaurants designers preferred hard metalic surfaces because they would ratchet up the noise level and generate the kind of buzz that the then favored clientele of the moment -- at the time 80s-90s yuppies -- preferred. Where are soft fabrics and other safe noise absorbers on the walls and ceilings when you need them? At some point even 90s yuppies need to hear each other.

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May I add a note that applies to all restaurants, not just Indian?  The problem of noise.  In general I think that Indian restaurants are not the worst offenders, but since the question of ambience in general has been raised, noise too should be on the list. 

I remember reading some years ago that restaurants designers preferred hard metalic surfaces because they would ratchet up the noise level and generate the kind of buzz that the then favored clientele of the moment -- at the time 80s-90s yuppies -- preferred.  Where are soft fabrics and other safe noise absorbers on the walls and ceilings when you need them?  At some point even 90s yuppies need to hear each other.

True, very true.

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Indian cuisine and Indian food is definetly not stuck in a rut.

Look around you, has the number of Indian restaurants grown?? In my area, tenfold in as many years and they are all doing well. The offerings and their quality may be debatable but there certainly has been expansion. Look at the shelves at the grocery stores with the variety of ready to eat Indian entrees. Look at the local caterers offering Indian selections as a matter of routine. They used to contract out to local restaurants but cook it themselves now. Even the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble now carry a much larger selection of Indian cookbooks.

BBhasin- you are correct. The expansion of restaurants and grocery items have grown. There is no denying that. My argument is that quantity in restaurants doesn't mean the quality of the restaurants have improved. Both you and Suvir have touched upon the issue of quality. I'll also qualify my views as an outsider's so please forgive me if I make some grave generalizations.

The idea that the cuisine is "stuck in a rut" applies to a broader landscape than just NYC and other culinary hotspots. I want people beyond NYC to recognize and understand the breadth of the cuisine and what it's really about. I estimate that there are about 1150 Indian restaurants in the top 50 US metropolitan cities. I am confident in saying that less than 2% have done anything substantial in creating the balance of quality food and atmosphere.

I am eager to hear about the places in India where you've found a great mix of both. It will offer great insight to what restauranteurs here in the US should strive for or at least use as an inspiration. :smile:

Edited by rks (log)
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Indian cuisine and Indian food is definetly not stuck in a rut.

Look around you, has the number of Indian restaurants grown?? In my area, tenfold in as many years and they are all doing well.

Are Indian Restaurants and kitchens Dirty ?

The key to cleanliness I believe is education and training. and constant continued training and this is where owners/managers have to step in.

While the owners/managers rated rated ambience, location, service etc at the top, the patron ( accross all age groups, gender and income levels) invariably put FOOD on top.

And in the Restaurants in NYC thread both Anil and Pan confirmed it.

It might be interesting to look at Indian restaurants in India.

Each comes up with a different mix of ambience, food offerings, price range etc. They have a slightly different formula they are working with and I think that is the way to go in the US also, as one mould will not fit all.

A visit to India is also educative with respect to Fustion Cuisine as while we are racking our brains here they already have some very interesting concepts in the market right now.

Can we club these two threads about New Indian and Indian Restaurants in NYC together!

BBhasin

You are right, we are not stuck in a rut. NYC is a very good example with other states like, VA, NJ, CT. Look at Monsoon in Chicago.

Lets go back 20 years, have we come ahead? I think so. Are we learning something new ? Of course yes. is it more challenging today to open a restaurant in NYC today than 10 years ago? You bet. Can we do better now? Yes Sir!

Are the Indian restaurants and Kitchens Dirty?

Again there are good kitchens and bad kitchens in Indian restaurants. As Bbhasin well stated about the health officials and inspections, the traing and education should be very well taken.

Now there are two points to be considered.

Are there chefs, cooks, kitchen help (what is available locally) willing to learn and train?

If so where are they? What kind of remunerations can be affordable. Most of the help today runs for $ 50 increment to another job. Very small minded and not career oriented. Where do you start. I am not saying it is not impossible, it takes time and training. We are well in our way than ever before.

Yes, it is very very interesting to look back Indian Restaurants in India. Their themes, formulas are very different, clientele is different.

Affordabilty and availability of trained personnel again comes in picture. As an example let's talk one Good restaurant (I consider) in Mumbai, Vrindhya's at Orchid Hotel. It will knock any one's socks once you look at the menu. Now I personally have the pleasure of talking to the owner of Orchid, Mr Kamat, he claims that kitchen alone has a kitchen personnel of 20 plus.

Talented personnel can still be hired well in India at decent going price. You have one ad for one position, you will receive 100 applications who are close to each other on qualifications., here you have an ad for one position, you are lucky to get 10 applications, out of which you are even luckier if you get any one qualified.

We know when Danny Myers opened Tabla and Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened 66, they have had more budgets for training than many Indian Restaurants have budgets to open an entire restaurants. Exception is always there, there might be some Indian restaurants who have budgeted themselves better.

On a more positive note, Given the resources we are accomplishing a lot more than yester years.

P2

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What keeps the Indian Restaurant world from having a Danny Meyer or Jean Georges?

Money is certainly not the issue. There are wealthier Indians in the US than people from any other immigrant minority. If you look at the last US Census, the figures for the Indian community were shocking. The wealth they have, the brain power they flaunt and the very high (critically for the US) percentage of Indians working in key positions and critical jobs is mind boggling. We are a very very very minisicule part of the American population. Really very very low. But we have infiltrated the American landscape in a kaliedoscopic manner and with lasting impact to how this country would function.

It is this reality of our community that gives me reason to believe that we could have our own Danny Meyers and Jean Georges. But, do we want them? Are we trying to find any? Where are they if they do exist? Why do we not have them yet if the answer to the previous question was no?

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What keeps the Indian Restaurant world from having a Danny Meyer or Jean Georges?

Money is certainly not the issue. There are wealthier Indians in the US than people from any other immigrant minority. If you look at the last US Census, the figures for the Indian community were shocking. The wealth they have, the brain power they flaunt and the very high (critically for the US) percentage of  Indians working in key positions and critical jobs is mind boggling.  We are a very very very minisicule part of the American population.  Really very very low.  But we have infiltrated the American landscape in a kaliedoscopic manner and with lasting impact to how this country would function.

It is this reality of our community that gives me reason to believe that we could have our own Danny Meyers and Jean Georges.  But, do we want them?  Are we trying to find any?  Where are they if they do exist?  Why do we not have them yet if the answer to the previous question was no?

Suvir

You hit the spot. If money is certainly not the issue, I guess my next question is: are ther people who believe in this and think alike pros, such as Danny Meyer or Jean Georges or Suvir Saran or BBhasin or Rks or Prasad. I thought I am a big beleiver of a good restaurant and have had my passion fulfilled to certain extent in opening units from 250K to Million plus with set of Angel investers. I have made and run kitchens you can eat of the floor. Bottom line most (wealthy) investers did not continue to believe in operations of upkeeping the place to local standards or operate like a Danny Meyer restaurants.

At certain times these investers have hired owners of competing restaurants to cut down costs. These competing restaurants operate without knowledgeble managers, chefs and do not give tips to employees(waiters). Sure are they maintaing the places? Hell no, are they profitable? Yes Sir

They have changed management on me to cut costs, including firing managers and chefs and running with out them and eventually selling them.

I am lucky enough and proud enough to be where I am (Stand alone) and how I operate Thali today. The day I can not operate with out these standards, I will not cut corners, but I shall close.

Yes Suvir,

This might be the last post until late evening and i will contnue to look forward for many interesting posts.

Prasad

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Prasad, thanks for another thoughtful post.

But again, after all of this, we are back at not having any read Danny Meyers.

What can we do to make them come into our fold?

What can we do to support them? Or rather, what is needed to ensure support for them in the long run?

What do you think ought to be changed to help bring vision to the investors?

What can a Danny Meyer who has investors without vision do to ensure that his own name does not get sullied as the investors lose vision and only want a quick buck?

I am sure Danny Meyer must have to work very hard to ensure his reputation whilst also being profitable and popular with investors. Maybe we really need to understand how these key players in the industry manage their own investors and restaurants. Certainly they may have it easier than many Indian restaurant owners, but can it be all that different?

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Despite the growing number of Indian restaurants, I wonder if the population of diners willing to spend substantial money on an Indian dinner even remotely approaches the number that would dro $100 a person at French or Italian (or steakehouse) restaurant.

A lot of upscale places draw a substantial quantity of business from customers who really don't care that much about the food. They are there for the buzz, or to impress someone, or for the atmosphere, or because they need to have a "big night" out but want to do so in surroundings that don't challenge them. Think about a tourist taking his wife out in NYC, or a conventioneer from Des Moins. I can take my parents to a French place when they visit, and get Dad to pick up the tab (you'd think I'd have outgrown that by now), but I couldn't take him to upscale Indian, and he would never take a client there.

Even if quality cooking fills a room 75% full, that last 25% can be the margin between success and failure, especially on a high-end venture.

Also, it's hard to sell wine with Indian food, especially the $200 a bottle stuff that puts money back in investors' pockets.

And it's an education process. Most people probably discover Indian in low-ish rent spots that put a decent meal on the table but neither look look like "nice" restaurants not deliver the kind of nuanced cooking that makes people think in terms of name-brand chefs. When they cal their wives and say "let's go someplace night tonight" they're probably just not thinking about Indian. They haven't been conditioned.

That being said, DC has an Indian restaurant with probably the most gracious dining room in the city, The Bombay Club, and it conditioned us so well that when the arguably better, though less gracious, Heritage of India opened, it was mobbed from the start.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Despite the growing number of Indian restaurants, I wonder if the population of diners willing to spend substantial money on an Indian dinner even remotely approaches the number that would dro $100 a person at French or Italian (or steakehouse) restaurant. 

.....

You made all very good points - I whole heartedly agree with you. I have a similar problem with Chinese - I cannot convince folks that ini some of the really good restauants in HKG/SIN expect to drop a serious moola for a meal sin wine.

On the other hand, talking to folks from france (mostly poor academics :smile: ) many agree that what the up-scale French restaurants serve is rarely prepared at homes, even on special occasions. So, should upscale indian restaurants just invent something, call it Punjabi,Malvani,Awadhi,Hydrabadi,Bengali entree and let the chips fall where they may ? :cool:

anil

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So, should upscale indian restaurants just invent something, call it Punjabi,Malvani,Awadhi,Hydrabadi,Bengali entree and let the chips fall where they may ? :cool:

My impression of French and Italian haute cuisine is that it grew out of the cooking done for the nobles -- and later the very rich -- by chefs who had already invented competitive cooking by the 14th century, when geese were stuffed with troufled and gilded with real gold leaf and served by nights on horseback as part of 20-course meals. Happily, there's less of that now, but I would be curious what chefs were cooking for Indian nobility "back in the day."

My experience with upscale Indian now seems to imply that, while it's excellent cooking, a home chef could easily acquire the tools and techniques (if not the genius with spicing and timing that good chefs have) to do a reasonable version at home.

I know there's more there, but at some level it feels like we're getting special occasion home food -- like your French friends -- and not the more rarified preparations that equate to a Micheline-starred experience and trace back to the Bourbons.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Suvir:

Two things:

(1) I don't share a perception that Indian restaurants are particularly dirty. Sure, some of the really cheap places are kind of shabby, but that is much less true of the $15-20/person dinner places I've been to in New York.

(2) There is a Jewish community in India today, though it's small. This website shows it to be about 6,000 (though I wonder whether some of their other figures, e.g. of the Jewish population of Russia, might not be significantly too low). Most of them are in Bombay nowadays. The ancient Jewish community in Cochin is practically gone, as they dispersed to Israel, Bombay, Britain, etc.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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....

My impression of French and Italian haute cuisine is that it grew out of the cooking done for the nobles -- and later the very rich -- by chefs who had already invented competitive cooking by the 14th century, when geese were stuffed with troufled and gilded with real gold leaf and served by nights on horseback as part of 20-course meals. .....

My experience with upscale Indian now seems to imply that, while it's excellent cooking, a home chef could easily acquire the tools and techniques (if not the genius with spicing and timing that good chefs have) to do a reasonable version at home.

.......

Mark Bittman in one of his Q&A summed it up very nicely -- I have eaten at El Bulli and had a terrific time. Every major city should have one such restaurant, though I doubt that will happen, since Adria's imitators mostly do lousy work. But it's not "real" food – you couldn't eat it too often, could you? The operant word is "real" I doubt whether I could eat in the haute French Michelin starred restaurants every day, maybe the rich -- As they say about "the rich" -- the are not like us.

anil

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Do you really believe they are tougher on Indian restaurants? What makes you think so? What do you think happens when they inspect Chinese kitchens? How do Indian restaurants tackle this situation? What are things a smart restaurant does to ensure no violations? Would you mind sharing... Please.

When we started our little place in Virginia, before the Health department issued a permit an inspector went over the menu with us. The have a set format and all the information collected is entered into their computor system

and it is the computor system and not the inspector or his boss who directs when the inspections are to take place.

Now, with Indian restaurants they usually make a basic lamb and chicken curry and then refrigerate it to use as and when the orders come in. This raises a red flag with the health department as the food is not being consumed immidiatly after being prepared and stays in the danger zone ( Temps where bacterial growth is greatest) while being cooled prior to refrigeration.

Also Indian restaurants tend to deal a lot in milk and milk products ( which are highly suceptable to spoilage) with making their own yogurt, ice cream (kulfi) etc.

I am not saying these are bad things but when this data is entered into the system it directs the inspector to inspect more frequently than perhaps if it was a pizza restt. Thats what I meant by tougher.

Another thing that determines frequency is your past performance, I think the past six visits scores stay in the system.How many critical and non critical voilations you have had.

What does a smart restauant do.

1. It educates as many employees as possible by sending them for the foodservice managers program. You are a teacher Suvir, but let me tell you after the course your awareness definetly goes way up. You may end up wondering , man how can I adhere to all this and still run my place.

2. You sincerly do the best you can to maintain an hygenic establishment. I think an exposed or semi exposed kitchen is a great idea as it puts the pressure on all that everthing is visible to the cutomer and they need to do things right.

3. you definetly want to follow up on the previous inspection and correct any lapses as it gives a good impression to the inspector and is also good for you and your patron. eg. if the temp of a box was not low enough, or the shield on the ceiling light needed replacement.

4.After a period, with your experience you can kind of figure out approximately when the inspector is due next and a little 'spit and polish' never hurts.

I hope this was not too boring. And if all the fine restaurant guys have more pointers I would love to hear from them

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Now, with Indian restaurants they usually make a basic lamb and chicken curry and then refrigerate it to use as and when the orders come in. This raises a red flag with the health department as the food is not being consumed immidiatly after being prepared and stays in the danger zone ( Temps where bacterial growth is greatest) while being cooled prior to refrigeration.

Hi Bbhasin

That was a very good point. I did not know an answer to that until a couple years ago.

The answer to the point you made to the Health department should be a mechanical blast chiller. The chicken or lamb or beef what you cook in handis (large stew pots) should be transfered immediatly after cooking into smaller storage tubs or lexon pans (NSF Approved) and then move to a quick chiller or a blast chiller, will bring the temps from 140 plus 40 degrees in about 60 minutes.

Also they have these huge manual chillers like a bat shape, where you fill in with water and freeze. As soon as you take either hot milk or food from stoves, stir with this frozen bat, which will inturn reduce the temps faster than the normal walk-in-cooler does, then tranfer them to your regular coolers.

Hope this will answer the health departments concerns. I personally like to work with tougher health inspectors, which only benefits the management in a longer run.

I hope every health department does the way they do it like your place before you could open your doors or plan a kitchen. I have had the pleasure of working with the toughest of opening inspectors and eventually benefited with better kitchens.

P2

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Thanks for all the information BBhasin! :smile:

Not too boring at all. In fact it was fascinating to read it from the perspective of an owner.

And I love the point below. I have always felt that is a quick way of making all your staff aware the need for being very clean.

"2. You sincerly do the best you can to maintain an hygenic establishment. I think an exposed or semi exposed kitchen is a great idea as it puts the pressure on all that everthing is visible to the cutomer and they need to do things right."

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Just to add to your education comment BBhasin. I think one the best training investments for the kitchen staff an owner can make is to ensure everyone takes a sanitation course (the NRA offers a great course). In the long run it saves an operation a good sum of money and motivates the staff to maintain high quality.

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