Identity crisis in the Ville

(Sahil Arora | The Collegian)

You know you’re in the Aggieville when even the restaurants have multiple TVs, all featuring sports. Upon entering the Dancing Ganesha, located at 712 N. Manhattan Ave., I thought I accidentally walked into another nondescript bar found in the area. Aside from the tables in the front, the Indian restaurant features a large bar in the back.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the necessity of serving alcohol in a bar district. However, if the food stands so well on its own, it’s a shame to think it might not take precedence over the liquor. It came as a shock to me just how satisfying their offerings are.

I visited on a quiet Sunday afternoon, a time when the normal Aggieville crowd is at home nursing hangovers from the night before. The restaurant offers separate lunch and dinner menus, each one with a diverse selection.

The interior of the restaurant features contemporary decor. Dim lighting contributes to the ambiance, though I did find it a little disconcerting as I was seated at the bar. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much from an Indian restaurant in Aggieville – besides a quick trip to the restroom immediately after the meal. Plus, I know how terrible most bar food is. Would I be served the equivalent here?

For those who have never had Indian cuisine, a lot of dishes make use of thick sauces made from yogurt or cream. Staple foods include vegetarian options and the use of curries, a combination of spices sometimes used to bring spicy heat to a meal.

A true test of any Indian restaurant is chicken tikka masala. The dish, a staple of any Indian restaurant, can be made in a number of different ways. I found their version to be Americanized, mild yet pleasant with a number of spices that accent the flavor rather than overpower it.

Two slices of naan, a crispy yet chewy flatbread, are served with meals. Although the naan was satisfying on its own, it was perfect when dipped in sauce. My only complaint is the small portions of naan served with a meal. I found myself wanting a lot more naan and less of the basmati long-grain rice.

The other dish sampled was the shrimp mango curry. Large prawns and slices of onions filled the bowl, swimming in a thick, sweet and spicy sauce. The concoction was phenomenal. The obvious sweetness of the mango was contained by the mild heat of the curry. A couple seconds after the tongue tasted the mango, the aftertaste consisted of spicy goodness that combined with the lingering sugary sauce.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the quality of their mango pudding. Generous pieces of mango are submerged in a light, uncongealed sweet pudding, leading to a natural sweetness that wasn’t overpowering. The prices are fairly reasonable as well. For a lunch for two, the bill came to just a little more than $22.

I highly recommend the Dancing Ganesha. If you have ever been there and never tried the food, you’re only cheating yourself out of a great experience.

Jon Parton is a junior in mass communications.