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July 19, 1999


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Fish Head Curry Travels To Boston From Thanjavur Via Kuala Lumpur

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Arthur J Pais

The fabled fish head curry, one of the most popular items across Malayasia and Singapore, is slowly catching up in New York. Now the Malay restaurants in Boston plan to offer it soon. Though it was popularized by Tamil Muslim immigrants in Malaysia and Singapore and was initially served only in Indian restaurants, today it is offered by Chinese and Malay restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and other cities.

The Malay restaurants here -- like their counterparts in New York -- also offer Roti Canai -- super fine parathas accompanied by chicken in thick coconut gravy. This is yet another contribution by Tanjore Muslims to Malay and Singapore cuisine.

Devotees of spicy food are never at a loss in Boston, Cambridge and the surrounding cities. More than 60 Indian, Thai, Afghani and Malay restaurants serve the migrants and students from South and Southeast Asia.

The Indian restaurants that are rated among the best by Zagat Survey, one of the most reliable and popular restaurant surveys in America, carry the notation, ZR.

Bai Thong, ( Needham): One of the most beautiful and popular restaurants in and around Boston, Bai Thong has plants hanging at the front door and cascading from ledges A three-chili house special (the number of chili icons, from one to three, indicates the level of hotness), Erawan Curry is made of slices of sirloin, asparagus, eggplant, string beans, and Thai melon in searing green chili sauce. Hot Crazy Noodle is one degree milder, the thick sticky-sweet noodles stir-fried with ground chicken, eggplant, and peppers. Milder, the ginger chicken is a beautiful melange of flat black, mushrooms and baby corn, with ribbons of fresh ginger, red peppers, and scallions.

1257 Highland Avenue, Needham. 781 433 0272.

Bawarchi: Many diners in Boston call it one of the best bargains in Indian food, especially the lunch buffet. Zagat Review said a few are put off by the "very dark interior" and find the place "about the same as the rest", most love the attention of friendly owners and staff.

636 Beacon St (Commonwealth Ave), (617) 424-1499

Bombay Bistro: ZR. Wall hangings and pictures from India create an upscale look at this Coolidge Corner restaurant. The lunch buffet is a crash course in Indian food and is enormously popular Bombay Bistro -- ZS named it among the top five Indian restaurants in Boston, noted its "high-quality food" makes this local "favorite" "stand above the crowd."

1353 Beacon Street, Brookline, (617) 734 2879.

Bombay Club, (Cambridge): Students and professors from Harvard and MIT are drawn to the ornamental décor and view of the Square, along with the garlic and onion naan, dosas, lamb vindaloo, curries, and tandoori meats. The chaat cart is a big hit with Indian students and professors.

57 JFK St (617) 661-8100.

Himalaya: Dosas, mulligatawny soup, tandoori duck masala, and chicken xacutti (hot and spicy curry made with coconut), all served in a comfortable setting.

95 Mass Avenue (617) 267-6644.

House of Siam: Thai. Gets raves for the way the staff treats the clients. The shrimp in garlic-chili-tamarind sauce is best -- very hot and very, very popular with Indian patrons

542 Columbus Avenue (617) 267-1755.

India Pavilion, (Cambridge): Lamb Pasanda and thali are among the most ordered dishes. So is Shahjahani Biryani

17 Central Square (on Western Avenue), (617) 547-7463.

Kashmir: The three downstairs rooms are decorated with traditional and modern Indian art. The tandoori mixed grill is a hit.

279 Newbury Street, (617) 536-1695.

Kebab-N-Kurry: ZR. One of the big success stories in Boston's Little India. The Maharaja Thaali (or its vegetarian counterpart) is recommended.
Zagat: "Ignore the goofy name" and "low-level decor" at this Back Bay "hole-in-the-wall" and focus on "excellent" Indian cooking at "great prices"; connoisseurs suggest the seafood, roasted eggplant and "curry if you like it hot."

30 Mass Ave, (617) 536-9835.

Pandan Leaf: Malaysian. With Chinese and Indian influences, this restaurant offers many choices. Let the staff lead you to the Gado Gado salad, curries, and beef rendang. A place understandably embraced by its Coolidge Corner neighborhood.

250 Harvard St, Brookline (617) 566-9393.

Penang: Malaysian. This Chinatown outpost of the New York chain has a tropical setting filled with bamboo, rope, and exposed brick. Exotic offerings, including curry beef brisket casserole, mango chicken, and salted fish with Chinese, Indian, and Thai cuisine.

685 Washington St (617) 451-6373.

Rangoli: ZR. A neighborhood favorite for southern and northern Indian cuisine featuring Bombay-style chaats and dosas. Among the top Indian restaurants in Boston. Zagat notes diners shout "hooray" for this "very popular" Allston eatery specializing in "brilliantly prepared", "light" South Indian dishes that are the perfect "antidote" to "cookie- cutter" standards; expect dosa to "dream about.

129 Brighton Ave (Harvard Ave), Allston (617) 562-0200.

Rhythm and Spice, (Cambridge): Caribbean. Conch fritters, jerk chicken, curried goat, and oxtails with pepper sauce and mango chutney are served in a festive environment near MIT. Weekend reggae, soca, or calypso bands attract an international crowd for dancing or kicking back at the bar and sipping rum drinks.

315 Mass Ave, (617) 497-0977.

Tanjore, (Cambridge): Harvard Square's only Indian restaurant to offer nashtas, between-meal snacks of potato patties, lentil dumplings, or South Indian crepes filled with chutney. High tea served daily.

18 Eliot St, (617) 868-1900.

The Elephant Walk: Cambodian/French. Let chef LongeineDe Monteiro take you on a mini trek from Southeast Asia to Europe at her two popular restaurants (another in Cambridge, MA).

900 Beacon Street, (617) 247 1500. .

The Helmand, (Cambridge): Afghanistani. Walls are a winsome yellow, hutches countrified blues and green, and tables set with linen, porcelain plates, and fresh flowers. Experiment with appetizers of ravioli filled with leeks and pan-fried pumpkin, chicken and lamb dishes with pallow (seasoned rice),and dessert of sheerekh -- ice cream with pistachios, cardamom, and figs.

143, 1st Street, Cambridge, (617) 492-4646.

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