Paradise Biryani Pointe is a fast expanding Indian restaurant chain with over 30 outlets in 12 states . Most of the outlets are in the East but there are two in California ( Artesia, Santa Clara), three in Texas , and even one in Omaha NE. The chain was founded by a techie who used to love the biryani in Hyderabad and decided to introduce it to America.
Paradise Pointe has a full menu with all the staples : appetizers ( bondas, pakoras, masala wings , kati rolls etc.) , and entrees such as Chettinad Chicken , Chicken 65, goat sukha ( dry goat curry) , mirch ka salan , paneer 65 and so on but what sets it apart is the biryani . While the other dishes are good , it is best to focus on the biryani. Just as one goes to a steakhouse to eat steak , one goes to Paradise Pointe for the biryani.
For those not familiar with the term , biryani is a rice based dish similar to pulao (or pilaf ). Where it differs from the latter is that the meat and rice are cooked separately before being layered and steamed together. Biryanis are usually made with meat ( goat, chicken) , less often with fish or vegetables.Ideally , the grains of rice in a biryani should be discrete, the dish moist and rich but not greasy . The spicing too should be complex but delicate . There are many varieties of biryani in India and Pakistan and in countries further afield each with some little nuance that makes it special.
At Paradise Pointe , biryanis are available with goat , chicken , egg or vegetable. My wife and I usually order the goat biryani , the chicken biryani only occasionally. Both are fine but we prefer the taste of goat meat ; it has a certain character that is lacking in chicken . It would be a mistake to order the egg biryani at Paradise Pointe . The goat and chicken versions include egg ; the egg biryani just has more egg pieces in it . We always ask for our biryani to be medium rather than spicy. No point in overwhelming the dish with heat .
All biryanis are served with slices of red onion and lemon. They also come with small containers of a watery raita, and a tomato based gravy that I don’t care for but which apparently is de rigeur. The portions are generous and my wife and I generally share a goat biryani and either a fish fry or a shrimp fry , both excellent. We have tried other dishes like the mirch ka salan and the paneer 65 and they are fine, but unnecessary. The biryani and the fish/ shrimp fry are the best things on the menu and we don’t need anything else.
Paradise Pointe is a franchise operation . The first Paradise Pointe was in North Brunswick , NJ and that is where the recipes were tried out and fine tuned . Franchisees at the different locations are given the standardized recipes to a uniform product. Most franchisees seem to be former IT grads or engineers , foodies who have gotten into the restaurant business. As a result , there is considerable variation in the quality of the service at the various locations . Some of them are not comfortable in dealing with customers and don’t seem to understand that the restaurant is not a clubhouse . This is borne out by the comments on Yelp for the various locations around the country. At the Edison location , I don’t like to eat in because at noontime there is often a clutch of noisy techie types hanging around and detracting from the dining experience. I prefer the North Brunswick location where the ambience is better , the staff is more professional and eager to please and the portions seem to be a bit larger. If you are ordering takeout, be advised that the biryanis are made to order . It takes about 25 minutes for them to be prepared from the time you place your order. The food is well worth the wait.