Sundara Indian Cuisine
1774 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
There is an old saying that states ‘you cannot go back and expect to find the same things you found originally.’ Such is true of the Sundara Indian Restaurant in Ocean Beach.
I originally reviewed this restaurant August 3, 2012, when it was located in a tiny restaurant almost on the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Ave. At that time it was sharing its restaurant with the “Pt. Loma Beach Café” – cooking its meals in a community kitchen during the late afternoon and bringing that food to its patrons for dinner. It was very good and I gave it a favorable review in the OBRag.
Asked again to review it now that it is in a permanent place with the ability to cook all of the meals on the premises, I asked my friend Eric to accompany me, as he has done several times in the past.
We arrived just a few minutes after 7:00 pm, and the very, very small dining room had no available seating. There was a patio, however, and we decided to eat outside. When we walked in there was evidence of a heater, but the table we took was too far away to derive any benefit from it, and I virtually froze during the entire meal. There were 4 other tables occupied in the patio and two other patrons came in while we were eating.
The menu is very limited – 3 appetizers; three traditional curries – all $9.50; 3 vegetarian curries – all $9.00; Tandoori Chicken – $8.50; 4 kinds of Naan bread – all $2.25 except for the cheese Naan which was $2.75. There were two different types of chutney offered at 75 cents each and one Raita – made with yogurt, cucumber and spices at $1.50.
Additionally there is a beer and wine list with draft, Indian and bottled beer offered, and white, red and sparkling wine. There were the traditional soda’s, Tazo iced green tea, Mango Lassi which Eric and I both had – $3 – and the one dessert was authentic rice pudding.
After looking at the appetizer menu, Eric and I decided to order Samosas, which were crisp pastries stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas, and served with two chutneys. There were two per order, and we ordered one order to share. The cost was $4.50. They were cooked nicely – not greasy – and I wished there were more than just two of them.
We also ordered a plate of the garlic and cilantro naan bread ($2.25) that was served hot and with our meal. It too was tasty.
Eric ordered the Tandoori chicken but was disappointed with it. Although it looked quite moist, and the two chicken legs were better than the white meat, it was quite dry and did not have much of a flavor. Fortunately the waiter had left the two chutney’s from the samosas on the table, and Eric used the sauces to aid in the flavor of the chicken.
I ordered the Saag, a spinach and caramelized curry that came with long grain basmati rice. The description stated that “ . . . recommended with paneer” but I was not asked if I wanted it or not. I now presume that “paneer” is tofu, since that was part of the curry sauce, but I would have preferred my meal not to have it if given a choice.
I was not asked what strength I wanted the “hotness” of the curry to be, and I found it was very, very mild - too mild for my taste. The rice came to me piping hot – steam generating from the serving box it was in for quite a few minutes into the meal.
Throughout our meal there was music playing and Eric and I laughed at some of the selections. We walked in to Simon and Garfunkel singing, there was rap, there was odd sounding music – not of Indian origin, and one selection sounded downright eerie.
When it came time for us to leave I asked Eric if he wanted to take the leftover chicken home with him. He elected not to do so, citing the dryness and lack of taste.
Our server was excellent and asked us many times if everything was all right. He gave us a form to fill out – that both Eric and I had trouble doing but that is probably because we are both retired teachers and didn’t pay attention to what we were supposed to do – indicating what we wanted to eat. The waiter said they were doing it that way so they did not have to pronounce the different foods on the menu. I would scrap that idea; the human touch is more important and you cannot ask a form what something is made of – like the “paneer” for example.
Overall our $40 meal – including tip – was not what we had expected, nor was it as good as the meal we had both had at their other restaurant last year. At $40 it was overpriced; and “C” grade at best. I am truly sorry, because it was so good the first time I was there that I wanted to go again.
Would I go back? It is doubtful. There are other Indian restaurants in the area that seem to have better quality control and are more tasty. I hope that changes are made to the menu; I hope that a second heater is installed in the patio; I hope that there is more flavor to the items being served.
It should also be noted that you can order on-line and there is delivery service after 5:00pm. There is a $1 charge for the delivery service. It was apparent that many people were ordering meals to be delivered, because the man making the deliveries walked in and out through the patio many time while we were there, and each time there was a gust of cold wind that permeated the patio. That also needs to be modified for the future.