Saras has all the charms and follies of a backstreet Indian diner: colorful clientele; long menu that includes simple favorites you never see at proper restaurants; cobbled but timely service; deliciously unhealthy food. Dishes are all vegetarian and spiced without caution—the quintessential aloo puri (potato curry with fried wholemeal bread, B90) is huge, while the sarson ka saag with makki roti (curried mustard greens with cornmeal flatbread) draw Indians after nostalgi flavor.
The Indian food version of an American diner, Saras has all the charms and follies of that time-honored genre of eatery: colorful clientele; long menu that includes simple, nostalgic favorites you never see at proper restaurants; cobbled but timely service; and average, greasy food. On weekends, you’ll find the place abuzz with Indian uncles and aunties, smiling and chowing down on their childhood favorites, and young bachelors making their way from the pay station, where you get a card charged with cash, to the ordering station. The menu contains quintessential vegetarian comfort foods executed to varying degrees of success. The aloo puri (potato curry with fried wholemeal bread, B90) is a large portion, and we like the attention paid to the garnishes: fresh green chillies, raw onion and a bit of mango pickle. The sarson ka saag with makki roti (curried mustard greens with cornmeal flatbread, B110) is average, with a strong-flavored helping of greens, but a bland, dry roti. The lump of jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) on the side would thrill us if it didn’t taste like stale brown sugar. The paneer dosa, while a nice, slightly unusual offering, can be disastrous. What’s meant to be a light, crisp dish is instead greasy and crunchy with strings of paneer stuck to the underside. Still, we don’t have gourmet expectations, and in their long, bewildering menu covering many regions of India, their forte is clearly the fun street food—the kind not often found in proper sit-down restaurants. We like their pakoras (chick pea batter fritters), especially the onion ones, which are a nice balance between thick, spicy batter and sweet onions. And their dessert corner is a good opportunity to try Indian sweets by the piece—don’t miss the cold, spongey and syrupy rajbhog. The service is so lightning fast, even on relatively busy days, that it’s amazing the food is hot and made-to-order. The downside is that your meal is done in fifteen minutes flat, a humbling reminder that the virtue of good service isn’t speed, but pace. Still, if you have a hankering for Indian, chances are they’ll have what you want (if it’s veg) and at a fraction of the price and fuss.