Chicago is a large metropolitan city located just off Lake Michigan, sharing the lake with Michigan. It is located in the state of Illinois. Just thought I would mention these simple facts since many maps overseas actually have Chicago appearing to be in Michigan or Indiana. It’s very strange. Seeing as we live in Northern Indiana we can get to Chicago in a day trip with no issues. When moving to South Bend, we held comfort in knowing there would be a larger city not far from our house. Moving from D.C. area to a small city was worrisome for me particularly because my work requires a good amount of internationalism and also I’m not sure I want to live without a Trader Joe’s. One thing strange is that Chicago does not have many vegan restaurants so I want to start to share with you some available restaurants, the good and the bad. The city can be expensive so there is no reason one should spend hard earned money on a restaurant that is known for being bad. Vegan tourist not be tricked! Learn about this Indian Restaurant (Masala Indian & Fusion Cuisine) we tested on our recent trip to Lombard, Illinois, USA:It’s hard to report sometimes of our vegan travels because there really are a mixture of good and bad restaurants all around the world. For instance, we absolutely loved the Loving Hut in Oahu (both locations) but did not have the same love affair with the Loving Hut in Sydney, Australia. It’s all about location and taste preferences and personal opinions. Genki Husband and I travel a lot so we really so see both worlds quite often and have strong opinions and what we prefer. Everyone has a personal opinion and preference so with that said I would never want to say something bad about a restaurant and then make it so no one enters this franchise again. This is not the case but rather I want to let people know of our experience so he/she can know what the playing game is for that location. I know I love reading reviews of places, good and bad but never taking either way to heart. So with that said… here we go!
This trip was for Genki Husband’s business trip so we had a long drive and then we had to set him up in his hotel room. This took some time so by the time we entered the restaurant we were about to eat just about anything. We ordered Naan, which we were told was vegan. (I doubt it still today) Before our meal arrived we were served 3 types of chutney served with papadum. Not the naan we had requested to have ahead of time, otherwise the napkins were going to get it. When our waitress arrived with the papadum we asked about our naan in which she said it would come but we should eat our free papadum first because it is traditional. Then we received a full lecture about how to eat Indian food. Remember we were starving and I was not in the mood to be given a lecture about how to eat a type of cuisine in which I lived with an Indian person so knew more about than probably the server. I asked kindly if we could just have our naan since we were too hungry to eat papadum. The waitress was not thrilled with us declining the ‘gift’. By the way, I know the green chutney looks a little scary but it’s totally worth trying if you are new to Indian food. It’s a more traditional Mint Sauce (it’s normally made with mint, cilantro, garlic and lemon juice) and goes well with naan.
Inside of the restaurant where the buffet is located. Warning: The waitstaff will really try to push the buffet instead of ordering off the menu. We had to convince them we were not buffet type of people.
This is the front of the restaurant where you will walk into the establishment. I’m not sure if it is all GPS systems but ours took us to the back of the restaurant but the only parking for customers is in the front. Hopefully that helps. The restaurant is setup more for large parties seeing as the permanent buffet is in the back and the bar in the front. It’s a very nice building inside and seemed very clean on the day we visited. The inside is a bit misleading from the outside.
Finally our naan arrived with our meal… don’t assume if you order something in a certain order it will come in that order… Now there is a bit of worry when eating this naan. We did instruct the perfectly speaking English waitress that we did not eat dairy or meat. She told us, “Oh no! Our restaurant does not put any of that stuff in any of our food!” as she looked at us in shock. It was a bit strange seeing as half the menu was animal meat filled. So we have no idea if this contained yogurt, ghee or butter. It can be made vegan but I’m not sure about this one. I left Genki Husband eat it since it was just 1/2 a full naan piece even though it was supposed to be a full side dish order.
For our 2 entrees: Gobi Aloo (Cauliflower and potatoes) & Chana Masala. (I have no idea what happened to the masala photo-sorry.) Gobi Aloo is one of my favorite dishes to order vegan since it’s very easy and it has my favorite thing, cauliflower. This one had a very thick, slightly pungent sauce. We actually only ate part of it because of the strange odor unlike we have every had. The chana masala was better but was very bland. Maybe we are food snobs after eating so much Indian food over the years, no idea. There was also a small bowl of Jasmine Rice to share among the two of us. No refills.
Sorry for writing such a bad review, it’s very hard for me to say this about a restaurant that we so wanted to fall in love. We love Indian food and wish there were more options in our area. There are some great Indian restaurants in the state of Indiana, do not worry. This one however was just really hard to stay seated in without walking out on. The servers were very rude and kept giving us lectures about why we should only get the buffet and what Indian food we were supposed to eat. Additionally the food was a bit off smelling and we ended up tossing it out because we were afraid we were going to get sick the next day. We thankfully were not too sick the next day but we did feel as though something was off for the next 48 hours. That could have just been mental though – who knows.
So all in all, we would never invite our friends to this place for a meal. It just did not work out for us being vegans and knowing what traditional Indian food really does taste like. We do have high standards, maybe too high sometimes. But, when you are paying $11.50 for a small bowl of cauliflower and potatoes, one does expect it to be good. So, yep, that’s my review. Not recommended for vegans