Urban Tadka : an intriguing name for a Indian restaurant, and a refreshing change from the Taj Mahals and Kohinoors and Shalimars that one sees all too often. “Tadka ‘means ‘seasoning’ ( Vaghar or phodni )and I don’t quite understand ‘Urban Tadka’ but when we heard the name we felt like checking it out. So we did.
Urban Tadka is located in “Little India” in Iselin, N.J and is a welcome addition to Indian restaurants in the Edison area.It is a venture of Dilip Mehta who already has three other restaurants ( Dimple, Khasiyat and Bombay Talk) in the area. Urban Tadka opened it’s doors about three months ago and the surprises don’t stop with the name. The restaurant is located in what used to be a bar. The building has been completely refurbished and has it’s own parking lot, a luxury in the cramped environs of Little India. It also has a bar which serves wine, beer and mixed drinks.
Urban Tadka is handsomely furnished in shades of red, brown and orange with artistic fan shaped window treatments, glittering chandeliers and interesting wall decorations. In an alcove to the right of the entrance is a well stocked bar and ,to the left, a separate space where the bufffet is laid out . The main dining room directly ahead seats about 80 diners with tables spaced comfortably apart. The walls in the buffet alcove are covered with glass doo-dads which change color with the concealed lighting . In the main room, the walls have decorative metallic looking tiles which actually turn out to be plastic. As I said, very different. For a glimpse of the restaurant and it’s menu click on
We went there for dinner one Friday evening and were overwhelmed by the number of dishes available to us. The menu is alomost equally divided between Indian and Indian-Chinese dishes. The Indian side of the menu features mostly Punjabi/Moghlai food with a sprinkling of southern favorites such as Fish Malabar and Chicken Chettinad. The Indian- Chinese side of the menu has all the popular dishes : appetizers like Chicken Lollipop, chili chicken ; soups like manchow, hot and sour and sweet corn and main dishes such as shrimp in black pepper sauce, chicken in hot garlic sauce etc. Talk about being eclectic.
We decided to stick to the Punjabi/ Moghlai side of the menu ( we’ll check out the Indian – Chinese on a future visit) .So, we ordered one appetizer and one main dish each along with jeera rice ,tandoori rotis and raita. Both appetizers were attractively presented and very good. The Fish Amritsari ($ 9.95) was crisp and perfectly fried and like the vegetable pakoras ( $ 5.95), almost greaseless. Our main dishes were Murgh Kadhai ($ 12.95) and the Paneer Makhani ( $ 9.95). The Murgh Kadhai was spiced just right, the boneless chicken pieces tender and flavorful, the bell peppers al dente just the way I like them. The Paneer Makhani, which is advertised as ” a special delicacy from our chef’s pan”, came in a delicious tomato gravy but I was only able to taste a little being already stuffed to the gills. Be warned. The portions here are very generous . Either skip the appetizers or order a smaller number of dishes. Prices are a little high ( our bill came to $ 85 including tax and tip) but it was worth it for the food and the superior ambience.
We went to Urban Tadka again one afternoon to try the lunch buffet and it containtained a cross section of both Indian and Indian Chinese dishes,vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There was a flavorful tomato soup and the appetizers included vegetarian spring rolls, assorted pakoras, hara bhara kebabs and chicken kebabs. Vegetarian main dishes included navrattan korma, palak paneer, a kofta dish and anexcellent dal tadka. Non-veg dishes included goat curry,a chicken curry and Chinese chilli chicken.Desserts consisted of mango pudding,carrot halva and sugar free jello.One of the better buffets in town and a bargain at $9.95. The weekend buffet has more dishes and is priced at $ 11.95.
The wait staff is friendly and attentive, if a little raw. At dinner, our waiter handed me one menu but had none for my wife. I had to ask another waiter for one for her. Again, when we were at lunch there was a constant parade of waiters replenishing the dishes at the buffet table which happened to be behind us; yet not one of them bothered to pick up the dirty plates from our table until almost the end of our meal. These are minor hiccups and I know they’ll be fixed before long.
Overall, Urban Tadka lives up to it’s promise of fine dining and you might want to check it out. Appetizers are approx. $4.95 to $ 9.95; vegetarian courses $ 9.95; non-vegetarian $13.95 to $ 16.95; Chinese main courses$ 13.95(veg) to $ 16.95 (non-veg).
Urban Tadka. 42 Marconi Avenue, Iselin, N.J 08830 Closed Mondays. Lunch buffet 11.30 to 3:00 PM. Dinner 5:30 to 10:00 PM; till 10:30 PM Friday and Saturday. (732) 283-1043