With an explosion of ethnic restaurants in the Cincinnati area, we here at HighStreet can’t resist trying them all. But what we really like is authenticity. It’s kinda like when we travel somewhere, we like to lay low and avoid the tourists areas. We stay in neighborhoods and try to live like the locals do. Authenticity is truly something we like and try to live by.
So when we read in Cincinnati Magazine that there is an area in the northern suburbs that is called “Little Bombay” we got excited. We conjured up images of an authentic Indian neighborhood with stores and people walking the streets in sarongs. Well reality turned out to be something quite different. We should have known that something that “radical” would not be happening in Sharonville, OH. Quite frankly “Little Bombay” is a the occasional Indian restaurant or grocery interspersed at half mile intervals along the Reading Road corridor. But alas from this hodgepodge of enclaves we found two gems of what we gather is authentic Indian food.
The first restaurant that we absolutely love is just north of the downtown area of Sharonville called Brij Mohan that is actually more of an Indian bakery that also serves a limited Indian vegetarian menu of entrees. Since this is purely a vegetarian place, make sure you get an entree with chick peas in it for your protein fix. There are many excellent dishes here, but we warn you the dishes can get spicy. But the main draw here are the sweet deserts. Our fave is the ras malai, pistachio flavored paneer cheese in sweet milk. We usually get several orders of this for carry out and it lasts for several days. Make nice with the owner who is always behind the cash register and she will steer you with suggestions.
Our newest discovery is on US 42 just north of I-275 in a small strip mall hidden behind a White Castle. Sankalp is a rather new restaurant next to an Indian grovery. Upon entry it is quickly evident that this is a cool place. The decor is modern but still sparse. And more importantly, like Brij Mohan, roughly 80 — 90% of the clientele are Indian families. This tells us that these places are about as authentic as it gets around here. Sankalp boasts an extensive menu. One thing we found interesting is the fact that a merging of Chinese and Indian food is common in India, much like Mexican cuisine is ever present in the US. It makes sense to us, and Sankalp offers a few dishes which it dubs Indo-Chinese featuring rice noodles or fried rice. We have seen several listings for Sankalp that say it is also only a vegetarian restaurant but the last time we were there we had a chicken curry on the buffet bar. There has always been a buffet bar that has been open every time we go there, but we can’t say for certain that the buffet is always there. And every once in awhile we catch glimpses of an Indian chef in full chef uniform come out of the kitchen and this makes us appreciate this place all the more. The next time we are there we are reaching for a salted lime soda, and baigan ka bharta (roasted eggplant with tomatoes and fresh herbs). It doesn’t get any better than that.
And what is all the more promising is that we have spotted two more Indian restaurants in the Sharonville area that we have yet to hit. So if you love curry and exotic spices, perhaps you should check out this area of town and discover your new favorite places. These Indian restaurants and the fabulous dim sum at nearby Uncle Yip’s will make this area a frequent stop for us for a long time.
And by the way, the title of this post means, “I am hungry” in Hindi, ’nuff said.