The spice is right

S.S. Super is a mellow place where fire-lovers and the spice-shy alike can indulge.

There’s a scene in the hilarious and touching disillusioned-straight-girl-turns-lesbian movie, Kissing Jessica Stein, in which Disillusioned Straight Girl No. 1 embarks on her seduction of Disillusioned Straight Girl No. 2 by taking her to a gloriously trendy New York City Indian restaurant where sitar music twangs in the background. She gets the girl.

Not to link Indian food to urban lesbian chic, but the scene does point to the way curried cuisines are celebrated in cities like San Francisco, Seattle and New York, but largely ignored in beef-loving states like Nevada. In the last year, Reno’s Indian restaurant population has dropped to only one place we know of—S.S. Super on South Virginia Street.

S.S. Super is not the chicest of Indian haunts. In fact, it’s as mellow as they come, with kindly, unobtrusive servers and a simple, unpretentious decor. Its grub is both vegetarian and meat-eater friendly, and it will appeal even to spice-ophobics (though blow-a-hole-in-the-roof-of-your-mouth foods are available).

But perhaps best of all is S.S. Super’s lunch buffet, one of the best buffet deals in Reno—a mere $6 gets you all the rice with vegetable curry, rice with chicken curry and rice with lamb curry you want, not to mention tandoori chicken (tastes much like BBQ chicken), vegetable fritters, salad and rice pudding.

I stopped by S.S. Super for lunch on a recent Friday afternoon with RN&R editor Deidre Pike and her daughter Tabitha. As soon as we’d plunked down in our chairs, Deidre explained, “Buffet!"—why wait for servers to direct you?—and the three of us started spooning rice and curried sauces onto our plates. (Deidre actually started with a salad, but Tabitha and I were less interested in the leafy green stuff.)

There were plenty of sauces to choose from. The sauces—vegetarians beware—were not labeled, but servers were on hand to identify the various orange-colored substances. Sauces included a delicious chicken curry, a rich lentil curry (dal makhini), a spicy chickpea curry (channa masala), a lamb curry and the lone non-orange sauce, a green-colored spinach curry (palak paneer).

When we got back to our table, servers had supplied us with glasses of water and naan, India’s absolutely delicious version of unleavened bread. Deidre and I sampled the many curries. She warned me about the chickpea one.

“It’s hot.”

I tried some on my next trip to the buffet.

“It’s good,” I said, discretely drinking half a glass of water to sooth the burn.

“Do you want to try some?” Deidre asked Tabitha.

“No way,” answered Tabitha, who was sticking to her chicken curry.

Spice is not for everyone. Be wary with your teenagers.

We were all enthusiastic about dessert, though—a yummy rice pudding that’s light enough to have even after a big lunch. It’s specked with nuts and some unidentifiable objects, which Deidre claimed were raisins.

Tabitha hinted that maybe her mom was making this up to sound, well, knowledgeable.

“That’s no raisin,” I said, munching on the crunchy, slightly spicy morsel. I found out later that it was cardamom, a seed from an East Indian fruit of the ginger family. But Deidre was right. Raisins were in there too.

Amid the steakhouses, the warehouse-sized buffet restaurants and chain family dining, it’s good to go exotic once in awhile—even if exotic means a simple, mellow place like S.S. Super, where the fire-lovers and the spice-shy alike can indulge.