Buffet reincarnated

Binder Singh removes a skewer of bright-red tandoori chicken from the tandoori oven.

Binder Singh removes a skewer of bright-red tandoori chicken from the tandoori oven.

Photo By David Robert

I’m a sentimental fool. And as such, I’m prone to forming sentimental attachments almost immediately. By the third time I visit a favored restaurant, I start spouting off things like, “Ah, it’s good to be back at the old haunt again.” Or “Man, this brings back some weird memories. We sure were wild back then.”

Furthermore, the favorite emotion of the sentimentalist is loss. So when restaurants I have long-running, deeply forged attachments with close down, my sentimental streak relishes the bitter moment. And I annoy my friends with solemn, dramatic eulogies.

The disappearance, from S. Virginia Street, of S.S. Super, Reno’s beloved mom-and-pop Indian restaurant, struck me like the death of a pet or a cousin: “I hardly knew ye!” I wailed, though I had eaten there probably a hundred times. “Why do the good ones always die young?”

Mourning for a closed-down restaurant may not seem appropriate for a review of a new establishment, but I know that many readers will empathize with me, and—holiest of holies—Taste of India is, in fact, S.S. Super reincarnated!

It’s the same friendly people, same great food, same cheap lunch buffet and all in a much better location. The $6.50 lunch buffet includes great northern Indian fare like chicken curry, terrific, bright-red tandoori chicken, mixed vegetable curries like navartan korma and chana masala, cauliflower and spinach pakora, and, last but not least, the freshly baked naan bread.

The food tasted much the same as it did at S.S. Super—surreally so, actually. It’s all quite good (though I’m perhaps somewhat biased, for sentimental reasons). However, the spice factor for the buffet is toned down for mass consumption, and if you want tear-the-roof-off-the-sucker spiciness, you’ll have to come for dinner. Dinner is also a good bargain, with a wider range of options and multi-course meals (including delicious samosas), but I’d suggest that the uninitiated start with the lunch buffet.

Taste of India is in a much brighter, shinier, better location away from the old S.S. Super, which was in the midst of one of the most sinful strips of the downtown drag. Prudes who found the old S.S. Super’s location and dingy, “authentic” atmosphere off-putting will not have the same problem at Taste of India.

I don’t like the new name as much. I’m fond of S.S. Super. I don’t really know what it means, but I’ve always thought it sounded like a good name for a boat—like a happy, magical sea-vessel ready to whisk diners away to India.

I was eating with my friend Ali, but we kept seeing people we knew, and everyone seemed happy about the new restaurant. The strangest encounter happened as follows.

Ali asked, “How’s your friend David?”

“You know—it sucks—I haven’t really talked to him in a while …”

Then, at the mere mention of his name, like a devil being spoken of, who should bumble through the door, looking disheveled and vaguely lost, as though the process of being summoned from whatever depths had left him disoriented, but dear old David.

So here, too, was another sentimental encounter with an old friend. While we spoke, I noticed other diners coming in and nodding in satisfied pleasure at the familiar, friendly faces and dishes. The owners, meanwhile, seemed happy to recognize other old regulars tracking them down at their new location.