I have a general rule of thumb about visiting new restaurants: wait at least two months for your first visit.
On more than one occasion, I have paid a visit too soon – when the service couldn’t match the demand – and left with a bad taste in my mouth (figuratively speaking).
It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and I’m glad it’s not. Otherwise, I’d still be waiting another six weeks to visit the new Nirvana Indian Bistro.
Nirvana opened two weeks ago in the Wal-Mart shopping center in Wyomissing. It’s the restaurant’s second location (the original is in Lafayette Hill, Montgomery County).
What was formerly East Wok, a Chinese take-out restaurant, has been completely renovated into a sit-down dining room. At lunch, guests can help themselves to a full Indian buffet.
The dining room had a decent crowd, but it wasn’t full during our visit last week. I hadn’t seen any advertising around the restaurant (I stumbled upon it while browsing Delivery Dudes) but we clearly weren’t the only people who knew about it.
We were seated at a booth on the left side of the dining room. The right side is filled with tables for four with an additional row of seats down the middle of the room.
My big caution about going to a new restaurant is the service, but Nirvana was already on top of their game, at least on our visit. There was plenty of wait staff, all of them attentive, and we had our appetizer of samosas in a timely fashion.
Samosas, for the uninitiated, are fried vegetable pastries filled with potatoes and vegetables. These were served with a variety of chutneys – onion, mint and tamarind.
The samosas were fine on their own, but really came alive with chutney. The tamarind looks like a soy sauce or a very dark barbecue sauce and has a sweet flavor. The mint is bright and refreshing. But my favorite is the onion.
It has a bright red color, a very mild spice and hints of sweet. I tried all three, but kept coming back to the onion chutney with my samosa.
The main event arrived shortly after our empty appetizer plates were cleared. My choice for dinner was the chicken vindaloo (though I chickened out when offered the choice of mild or hot).
I was glad that I did because the mild was still kicking, but it was pleasant. The vindaloo was reddish brown with chunks of chicken and potatoes throughout. The potatoes really soaked up the sauce, turning a shade of red themselves.
The communal pot of rice was plenty for Julie and I to share with our dinners. It made a great bed for my vindaloo and also helped tone down the spice, which seemed to build with every bite.
Normally, Julie is a chicken tikka masala kind of girl. But she expanded her horizons (a little) by ordering the chicken kabobs.
The chicken was not served on skewers but was instead served with onions and peppers on a sizzling skillet as you would expect for fajitas with sauce on the side.
The sauce was what made the dish. It was a creamy sauce, not hot at all, but with a nice mix of herbs and spices that brought the chicken to life. And she brought home quite a bit of the chicken, unable to finish it at dinner.
Julie washed her meal down with a mango lassi, her favorite part about any meal at an Indian restaurant.
For our entrees, samosas, mango lassi and my iced tea (a can of Brisk with a glass of ice), our total was just under $40. It was a very good price for a lot of food.
Nirvana is located just a few blocks away from Laxmi’s Indian Grille, which we visited in a previous blog. Both were very impressive and I would be hard-pressed to choose between the two.
But there’s plenty of room for two, especially in the restaurant-rich suburbs where there are never enough tables to go around.
I was glad to have Laxmi’s. I’m glad to have Nirvana.
And I’m definitely glad that I didn’t wait.
Nirvana Indian Bistro
1137 Berkshire Blvd
Wyomissing, PA 19610