Review by Mia Dunker
Zaika Indian Cuisine is a locally-owned Indian restaurant on 141st and West Center Rd. Their website says their mission is to, “provide fresh, healthy, nutritious and great tasting food at reasonable prices in a clean, friendly and convenient environment,” and I wanted to put that to the test.
Full disclosure, I have actually had Zaika before; it has recently become one of my family’s go-to Indian restaurants. But, in our pandemic world, I have only had their takeout, and wanted to get the full experience, so I decided to dine-in and try some of their dishes I have never had before.
Zaika has an extensive menu, with vegetarian and vegan, meat and seafood options for both appetizers and entrees. Even though the menu is quite long, the way it was organized by meat or vegetarian and type of dish made it easy to understand, even to someone unfamiliar with the cuisine.
For an appetizer, I decided to order the Zaika special combo so I could try a good variety of their appetizers. The combo comes with a samosa (savory fried pastry), two fried veggie patties, two pakoras (fried veggie fritters), two egg rolls, and some curry fries. While the egg rolls and the pakora were a little too greasy for my taste, all of the appetizers were very good, though you may not like them if you do not enjoy spicy food. My personal favorite was the samosa, which was stuffed with potatoes and peas and was the perfect balance of spicy and savory.
For my main course, I ordered two dishes for my family, one vegetarian and one with meat. For the vegetarian dish we had the Malai Kofta, a rice dish with sauce and potato dumplings. The sauce was very buttery but lacked any spice (I ordered it mild to be fair) and the savory dumplings balanced the flavor nicely. It was good, but definitely my least favorite thing I ordered. For the non-vegetarian dish, we had the Shahi Chicken Korma, a spicy rice dish with chicken and a cashew almond sauce. This was definitely a highlight of my dinner. The chicken was perfectly spicy and the sauce was very rich and creamy. I also ordered naan with our dinner, which was delicious.
For dessert, I had mango kulfi, an Indian mango- flavored ice cream. It came with custard on top, which went with the sweetness of the mango ice cream very well, and was topped with chocolate cookie crumble. Overall, my family dinner ended up costing about $50.
I was also impressed by the overall atmosphere of the restaurant. It had a casual and homey atmosphere and was very comfortable. Each table has its own little grill, which can be used to build your own meal if you order off the grill menu, and they contributed to the warm, cozy feel of the place. I could also tell they were taking precautions against COVID, with well-spaced tables and hand sanitizer at the door and at every table.
Overall, I would rate my experience at Zaika a 9/10. The food was delicious, a bit pricey, but well worth it for the quality and amount of food you get (my family had enough leftovers for three days). The staff was friendly and accommodating, the service was quick, and the environment felt authentic and homey. Whether you are looking to try a new restaurant that serves your favorite type of cuisine or you are looking to expand your horizons, I would highly recommend Zaika Indian Cuisine.