It’s been only 16 months since the opening of Thali Too, but the restaurant has already revamped its offerings.
As owner and executive chef Prasad Chirnomula describes, Thali Too labors to “bring you the drama” of the diverse regional cuisines of India. And now those dishes, which still all cost under $10, feature a wider array of vegetarian regional cuisines, including Kolkata Kati Rolls and Bangalore Vegetables.
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Manager Bruice Bennett describes Prasad as a surprising man. So were his dishes.
Jumping around the menu, we began with the Masala Raj Katchori ($6), a crisp, puffed bowl-shaped semolina bread stuffed with seasoned potatoes, mint, coriander, tomatoes, onions, chutney, sweet yogurt, chickpea noodles and pomegranate seeds. Despite its wet contents, the bread had a refreshing crunch: Everything burst in my mouth, though a bit too cilantro-heavy.
The Khoman Dhokla ($6) is made with layers of steamed chickpea flour. Scallion chutney seals the first two layers together and tamarind chutney the bottom two. The dhokla, which can often be too dry, was super-moist and tasted like savory cake. And the icing on the dhokla? A sprinkling of dried coconut.
My favorite dish was the Kolkata Kati Roll ($7), a concoction of mushroom, eggs, scallions, and a delicious cilantro sauce wrapped in whole-wheat bread that tasted as if I was biting into a piece of tender meat. For carnivores eating at Thali Too, this one’s for you!
Later, we had Pagoda (pronounced “pagora”), eggplant slices stacked with tofu and adorned with deep-fried okra slivers. Plated in a bed of freshly cooked spinach and house-made tomato sauce, the dish seemed the least Indian: To be honest, it reminded me of some less than memorable eggplant parmesan dishes I’ve had. Order the okra (golden crisp okra, $7) separately though — they are better than my mom’s (!).
No meal at Thali Too is complete without the dosas, thin rice crepes cooked to perfection — soft, crisp, any way you want it. Pesarattu ($8), a green mung bean crepe hailing from Andhra Pradesh and accented with ginger and cucumber, is served with sambar, ginger hummus and “gunpowder” (cayenne in oil). Following that was a dosa stretching my wingspan called Dean’s Dosa ($10), an extra-large masala dosa served with potatoes. Epic.
Thali Too spiced up its curry offerings with four new vegetable entrees that range from a sesame-peanut tamarind flavored eggplant dish (Bagara Baigan, $10) to a drier, cauliflower one (Madrasi Aloo Gobhi, $10). The winner is Bangalore Vegetables ($10), vegetables cooked in a coconut-based curry with roasted coriander seeds, garlic, and red chillies.
Dessert (all $4) has fewer options — jalebi with malai (batter poured into hot oil in a spiral shape, served warm with clotted cream) and carrot halwa are gone — but options still include the gulab jamun, deep-fried milk ball in honey syrup, and pistachio kulfi, an ice cream like frozen dairy dessert.
But what the menu gains is a new palate: there are more interesting main curry dishes as well as great regional snacks. Even if you don’t want a main course, splurge on the snacks and treat yourself to some tapas-style sampling of the multitudinous Indian cuisine.