Star of India
1659 W. North Temple, SLC | 801.363.7555
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.-10p.m.
When I worked in downtown Salt Lake City years ago, my best friend was an Indian restaurant. Star of India was always there for me on bad days. Their lunch buffet was perfectly suited for stress eating, stocked full of vegan comfort food. I’d return to the office much happier and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Star of India has been around since 1990. Fans of the Indian restaurant have fond memories of their old location Downtown. Bollywood movies played in one area of the restaurant, and colorful murals covered the walls. The staff was genuinely friendly and the food superb.
Driving to work a few months ago, I noticed a sign for Star of India inside the Ramada Inn on North Temple. Did I manifest a new location for my old restaurant BFF? If that’s the case, you’re welcome.
Serving Northern Indian fare, you’ll find plentiful vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. (Don’t worry; I’ll get to those in a minute.) For omnivores, there’s everything from Chicken Tikka ($15.95), marinated in yogurt with mild spices and cooked in the tandoori oven, to my husband’s favorite, Lamb Vindaloo ($14.95): cubes of lamb served in a spicy garlic sauce with cubed potato.
The lunch buffet is well worth the $11.95 you’ll spend. It’s available Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are usually at least eight entrées, half of which are vegetarian. Options change daily, and I’ve never been disappointed. As for carbs, there’s plenty. Naan, a thin bread cooked in the tandoori oven, is handy for sopping up curry. Jasmine rice, brown rice and a tasty vegetable noodle dish with tofu are always on the buffet. Fried goodies like pakora (small vegetable fritters), stuffed jalapeños or samosas make an appearance, depending on when you visit. Finish your plate with hot sauce, chutney and mint sauce. Orange slices serve as a palate cleanser, which is helpful if you’re determined to try everything. Dessert is usually kheer, a sweet rice pudding.
Creamy, flavorful and utterly satisfying, you’d never suspect that the Vegetable Coconut Curry ($11.95) is vegan. The coconut cream adds to the luxurious, silky texture. The unique flavor comes from onion, tomato and Indian spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Served with Jasmine rice or naan, eating this curry is pure bliss.
Saag Paneer ($11.95) is a classic vegetarian Indian dish. It’s decadent, rich and velvety, with cubes of homemade paneer cheese in a thick spinach sauce. Mellow flavors of garlic and garam masala allow the fresh cubes of cheese to take center stage.
Chana Masala ($10.95) is hearty, loaded with tender chickpeas and tomatoes with a tangy sauce that will grab you by the tastebuds. I’ve eaten plenty of Chana Masala in my time, and I enjoy Star of India’s the most. I can identify garlic, chili, tomato, garam masala and ginger, but there’s something unique about the deep flavor of the sauce. I opt for naan to accompany this dish—it’s fun to scoop up the garbanzo beans with bread.
For dessert, try the Gulab Jaman ($3.50). The delicate orbs of deep-fried pastry are made with housemade cheese and dressed in a sweetened syrup. They will melt in your mouth. I enjoy this dessert because it’s neither heavy nor cloyingly sweet. If you’re lucky, you’ll find this dessert on the lunch buffet.
Star of India serves beer and wine, but I’d suggest a cool, frosty Mango Lassi ($4) to pair with your meal. Tart and sweet, this fruit drink is made from yogurt and fresh fruit and is a perfect counterpoint to the heavy flavors.
One of my favorite things about the new Star of India location is the ease of ordering take out. Just go on their website to place your order and pay, and then run into the restaurant to pick it up. Parking is easy, and the food is neatly packaged in plastic containers.
I miss the Bollywood movies and the murals of their old location downtown, but it’s the food and the family behind Star of India that make this restaurant shine. I’m happy to say that those two qualities have not changed a bit. I’m looking forward to spending many lunch hours here and bringing home takeout for years to come.