By Ayfer Simms
‘No, no, I want to be the Maharaja. Give me the hat!’
The mood is light. It is Friday night and we are catching the last rays of sun, its blazing heat of now gone. At 7 pm, it is slightly too cold to sit outside, even for smokers. It is also a bit noisy, situated right on the main avenue where fast and furious cars hurry to knock over any soul tempting to cross it.
”Hey, did we book? Did we need a booking?” I ask my friends. But just as we walk to the entrance, the size of the restaurant and the many tables both on the street and on the mezzanine answer my question: it seems alright to just show up (though it couldn’t hurt to book in advance).
Before I settle down, I rush to the loo upstairs. The same waiter is fiddling with the hand towels. That’s when I realize he speaks English to me. “Please come in”, he says like a butler from the 19th century. Not wanting to cram into a small toilet room with him, I freeze for a minute and he rushes out and disappears.
Back at the table, I catch the Indian waiter, who lifts an eyebrow and holds the two other flowery crowns in one hand, puzzled as to what to give to whom. He is reluctant to hand out the girlie crowns to the male of our party.
“You want normal spicy, Turkish spicy or INDIAN spicy?” the waiter asks as we sit down. As he asks, his hands go high above the table and his eyes grow round and big as a full moon on a werewolf night. Who wants to feel like you are in Turkey when you are at an Indian restaurant? I thought to myself.
“Hrum, yes, we WANT the Indian spice! We are no pussies. In fact, mister, we DEMAND Indian spicy. And now, “que le spectacle commence!“ I said to myself.
There’s plenty of alcohol, that’s always a good sign when you go out for dinner. The wine is more affordable than the beer: Eighty TL for a bottle (Angora, worth 20 in the supermarket) versus 12 for a glass of Efes, which is full of chemicals. You can order other brands if you willing to pay 15 liras for a tiny glass. I had two beers and we shared that Angora bottle. That was plenty while eating.
If I have to sum it up the food, I would say that everything we ate was delicious. Tandoori has got an impressive selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and everything Indian you’ve been craving: masala, paneer, vegetarian köfte, and even some poultry for those who eat animals. The flavors were authentic. I travelled five months and eating at Tandoori sent whisked me away back to the motherland. The textures were soft and blooming with all the scents so rich in Indian cuisine, such as the cardamoms, red chillis infused in the flesh of each delicacies. The köftes were soft and melting in the mouth, rich of its curry flavored sauce. The essence of the delicious concoctions in front of us were visible on our appearances and expressions: our facial features softened and an inane gaze coupled with a gentle smile slowly emerged.
Our waiter was extremely friendly, perhaps a notch too friendly, working really hard on his tip, but he was still a good lad and we were ourselves perhaps equally keen that night on being “good old sports”, playing along and enthusiastically laughing to all his jokes.
When our bill came, our four beers, bottle of wine, mixed appetizer plate, papadums, plain shared rice, three main dishes (we shared those, too), a couple of nans and one desert for three people came to 310 TL, which included a 10% service charge.
Because monsieur le waiter was trying hard and had a good heart, we gave him a 30 TL tip. We will be back there. We tried to order a rice and a nan each and he kindly told us not to have our eyes bigger than our stomachs (grinning), saying, “if you are still hungry after sharing a couple of nans, a papadum, I WILL give you some extras for free”. We all laughed, and he was right, we didn’t need more. Thumbs up!