Their old location was in a very small space near my working place, and a couple of times I would go there for lunch on my lunch breaks. The owner also owned a branch of basically the same restaurant, called Asian Rose, which was located downtown and was strictly served lunch only. You could choose up to 3 different curries from the display case, and it would be served with brown or white rice, all for about $6-7. Super great deal. Well, they closed down, as well as Malabar did, at the same time about two years ago. I remember sitting in Malabar one day for lunch with a coworker of mine and overheard someone saying they were closing down. I FREAKED out. Seriously, I thought my world was ending. I think I was probably depressed for a few days and weeks well after that. But then hope was renewed. Turns out they weren't closing for good. Their lease just expired and they would be reopening with Asian Rose somewhere downtown. Well I waited. And waited. And waited. Anxiously, but patiently. Their estimated opening day kept pushing forward (or back, however you look at it) and I thought the day would never come. Well one day on my way home from school I got a feeling that I should drive by and see if they posted a sign or were open yet. Sure enough, I walked right in, and they had just opened that day! It was surely one of the greatest days as I was overflowed with joy. And not only that, it turned out it was my friends birthday on the day they reopened, so of course we went there that same night so it was also a pleasure to share one of my favorite things with him too since he had never had their food before. Anyhow, the food is still pretty much the same, although I have to say it was better at the old location. Their presentation is different, and they use new modern dishware and their recipe for the watermelon slushy just isn't quite the same. But hey, I'm not complaining. The experience is really quite nice--you get affordable, great tasting unique food that you can't really find anywhere else, and the ambiance is tranquil and fancy with dim lighting. It's decorated quite nicely with little floating candles and flowers everywhere. They've expanded and have a lot more room for seating, which is a plus, but their service isn't always great. It's usually very slow, the timing of serving your entrees is usually inconsistent with whatever else you order, and in the past they have neglected to refill your glass with water (when you most need it for this kind of food!) but the great food makes up for it. In the end, you realize it doesn't matter anyways.
To make a long story short, a few friends and I went out and dined there last Friday night and split a bunch of yumminess. Seriously, that's the best way to do it. That way you get a nice sample of everything and try new things. After the paan and salad, I was already stuffed. Seriously, every single time I go here, I get a fullness that I don't get anywhere else. Sometimes it's just right, sometimes it's uncomfortable, so I have to pace myself. I always joke that I think they put something in their food to make it expand and get you fuller quicker! It's probably just the textured vegetable protein in the seitan, tofu, and tempeh that expands a whole hell of a lot. So another nice side affect of that is that you probably have gas for the next 24 hours after you eat here. But anyway, here are some photos:
So if you or anyone you know lives in Santa Cruz, is near Santa Cruz, or is going to visit Santa Cruz sometime in the near future, tell them to go here. You will not be disappointed!