Tucson Lifestyle 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012 Culinary Awards

     Posted on Sat ,31/07/2010 by mintu

Several months ago we asked you, our readers, to send us your opinions about the best restaurants in Tucson. You voted for your favorites in 34 categories, ranging from American to Thai, as well as specific preferences running the gamut from best view to best wine list. Some of the selections may surprise you; others rank among Tucson’s longtime favorites. We present the results here in alphabetical order.

Best Indian
Gold        Saffron Indian Bistro
Silver       Gandhi Cuisine of India
Bronze    India Oven Cuisine of India

No holding still for Saffron

     Posted on Fri ,30/07/2010 by admin

In June, Saffron Indian Bistro marked its second year in Oro Valley’s Oracle Crossings.

Business has been “very good,” according to owner Saurabh Sareem, known as “Mintu” to his friends. “The last two summers have been outstanding. We’re still new.”

There’s no holding still, Mintu said. He’s emphasizing Saffron’s catering options, and has placed a clay oven on the patio in preparation for “Tandoori Nights at Saffron,” Indian barbecue on the patio one night a week.

“We always look at new ideas,” Mintu said. “Once people come in, we want them to have a good experience, with service, ambiance, and food the main part.”

What’s popular at Saffron? For starters, the daily buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mintu reports the chicken tikka masala, England’s national dish, sells very well, as does the tandoori seared lamb chops, particularly when he has a special $5 off price. “People love it,” he said.

Saffron has a wide vegetarian menu, and “a lot of vegan people are coming lately.” The restaurant can serve a fine meal without dairy or animal products.

Mintu describes the food as “authentic, but a little more modern. We keep it contemporary and clean, warm and inviting.”

Chef V.J. Srivastava is “good at creating new stuff,” Mintu said. “V.J.” is widely trained and experienced, and enjoys adding dishes to the menu. Spices and Indian specialties are imported.

“All our food is very mild,” Mintu said. “People think it’s spicy, and we can make it spicy. But it suits the older palette.”

Rachel Bracety is Saffron’s new manager. With management help in place, Mintu now contemplates opening other new locations.

“Indian food, Indian culture is becoming pretty popular in America,” Mintu said.

Saffron, which employs up to 30 people, has expanded its catering business. It can handle jobs of 10 to 1,000, counting big events for the Arizona Air National Guard, Bollywood at The Fox and major catering for Tucson’s annual gem and mineral show. “We go there, set it up, serve, load and clean it up,” Mintu said.

Mintu also owns Kababeque Indian Grill, “more of a fast-food place, the only Indian fast-food joint in Arizona,” near the University of Arizona. It opened in July 2004, and has “done very well.”

And he is part-owner of Om Fusion Restaurant, the “modern Asian kitchen” at River and Campbell.

Mintu likes the Oracle Crossings location. “I think our plaza is very good,” Mintu said. “This plaza has a lot to offer, and everything you need. I’m happy with the turnout. We get a lot of foot traffic.”

Mintu’s father was an ice cream distributor in India, and he’s “always had an interest” in the hospitality trades. He came to the United States and bought the New Delhi Palace, running that restaurant for four years before selling it.

“I enjoy it,” he says of the life. “I like to work hard. There’s a lot of hard work in the restaurant life. There’s no social life, but it’s good to be known, and it’s good to serve people with a quality product.”

BTucson Review: “Good Indian Food Tucson”

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

We went for here for lunch one day. The staff was really nice and it was a buffet style lunch. First impression was that it was sub standard, but after looking at the assortment, I could see that they had done a good job. The good food confirmed it. There were plenty of attentive staff bringing out Naan and meat dishes. The food tasted good: the meat was tender. The spices we definitely there. Good value for the ~$9.00 price.

Check it out. –jbprugby

Tucson Weekly Review:

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

I moved to SE Arizona in 2007 and immediately starting looking for a first-class Indian restaurant. I believe that I have eaten at at least 75% of the Indian restaurants in Tucson and the surrounding area.

Simply put, Saffron Indian Bistro is the best Indian restaurant I have eaten at in Tucson, bar none. Nothing else even comes close. The sauces are exquisite, the meats are cooked to perfection, the rice is perfect, and the selection is broad. I have eaten at Saffron on at least 20 different occasions and have never had a meal that was less than excellent. The service has ranged from very good to excellent.

The owner of the Indian grocers where I get my supplies for home told me it is the only Indian restaurant that he will take his wife to.

I’ve eaten in fine Indian restaurants in NYC, London and other major cities in the US and Europe. Saffron holds there own against them and is among the five best Indian restaurants I have ever eaten in.

Arizona Daily Star Review: “Savor the food and ambience at Saffron “

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin
ORO VALLEY — On a busy Friday night last month, a quiet buzz filled the dining room at Saffron Indian Bistro.

Servers navigated between nearly three dozen tables along the polished concrete floor, delivering nicely crafted plates of tandoori grilled meats, fragrant vegetable stews and crispy naan.

A trio of hostesses sporting decorative bindis on their foreheads clasped their hands, bowed their heads and greeted diners with a pleasant namaste loosely translated, it’s a very respectful hello.

In the case of Saffron, it’s also an invitation to experience the only upscale Indian eatery among Tucson restaurants.

The labeling might seem a misnomer if your definition of upscale rests mostly on menu prices. Entrees at this Northwest Side restaurant start out at $9.95 and average just a few dollars more; the priciest entree on the menu of chicken, seafood and veggie dishes was the tandoori seared lamb chops ($28.95).

Here, upscale is defined more by attention to the details. The casually appointed, airy dining room is divided from the kitchen by colorful panels. Elaborate, flower-shaped metal light sconces on one wall cast weblike shadows, while recessed lights offer a dim hue once the sun sets. Service is attentive and mostly well-paced, and authentic interpretations of classic Indian dishes are plated with an emphasis on presentation. Crispy vegetable samosa turnovers ($4.25), plump with smashed potatoes and baby field peas, are plated with a slightly spicy chile coulis. A house tandoori grill ($17.95) is a colorful and wonderfully tender platter of chicken tikka, lamb, shrimp and shish kebab, served with fluffy aromatic basmati rice.

The evening begins with a pair of inventive chutneys — refreshing mint and sweet and fruity tamarind — accompanying complimentary papards, fried crispy chips. (A third chutney, an assertive onion, is available by request.) Think of it as the Indian take on chips and salsa. Nibble away as you peruse the menu, the creative collaboration of owner Saurabh Sareen, who also has the four-year-old University of Arizona-area fast-food outpost Kababeque, and his chefs — executive Vijay Sribastaba and head chef Sukha Mann, who worked with Sareen at Kababeque. Sribastaba comes to Saffron via Florida with stops in London, Sareen said.

The three men mixed and matched their opinions of Indian food until they came up with a menu that balances traditional fare with modern sensibilities. Sareen’s idea of modern rests mostly in presentation and ambience, he explained. For the most part, classic dishes like aloo matar paneer ($10.95), a stew of potatoes, peas and homemade cheese, are left to their classic devices.

In the aloo matar, the paneer — a homemade non-melting farmer cheese — had a texture that crossed mozzarella and tofu on one visit. The paneer was tender and softer to the tongue on a second visit a week later in the paneer tikka masala ($10.95), where it crowded a bowl of creamy tomato sauce gently kissed with coriander and ginger.

Distinctive spices like coriander, cardamom, turmeric and tamarind are doled out with a steady hand. The korma ($11.95) with chicken was a luxuriantly rich cream sauce with a hint of coriander and a whisper of sweet heat from the marriage of cumin and crushed red pepper. Ginger and cilantro nicely accentuated the deep-fried vegetable pakoras ($4.25).

The hand was heavier with the coriander in the aloo tikki ($4.95). The spice nearly overpowered the potato and peas in a lightly pan-fried, thick fritter that was a tad dry on a recent Friday night.

Perfection came to the table on the sizzling platter of lamb chops. Two meaty chops are cooked in a tandoori oven after spending the night in a marinade of 20 fresh herbs and spices including chile and cilantro powders, garam marsala and fresh papaya. You could cut the chops with a fork, and the spices permeated the meat, adding a flash of sweetness that erased any hint of gaminess that can taint lamb.

Desserts included a rice pudding ($3.95) made with caramelized basmati and sweetened with raisins. The basmati didn’t have the heft of regular rice, but the pudding was flecked with ground almonds and toasted pistachios, adding an earthy hue.

UrbanSpoon Review: “Likes it”

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

Decor – Very modern and contemporary

Service – Good…seems like its a family owned and operated place. On of last visit, I got the impression that the mom ran the front of house, the dad did the cooking and daughters were the severs.

Food – Been there 3 times and each time had the lunch buffet. The food was good for a buffet…but only average for Indian food. It just seemed to lack some of strong spices and flavor of Indian food. With that said…it was still very good for a lunch buffet.

By: Dezracer

UrbanSpoon Review: “Likes it”

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

Excelente comida! Lugar y colores agradables, porciones perfectas…

By: Esther

UrbanSpoon Review: “Likes it”

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

Very flavorful! What a wonderful place both in food and serive. The kingfisher beer is great

By: Guillermo Grana

TripAdvisor Review: “Best Indian in Tucson”

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

This new restaurant finally brings first-rate Indian cuisine to Tucson. Head and shoulders above all the rest. The meats are of excellent quality. The spices stand out for variety and piquancy. The prices are above average too, but well worth it if you enjoy real Indian cooking. Highly recommended.

By:  SolarCat

TripAdvisor Review: “Favorite Indian in Tucson”

     Posted on Sat ,01/08/2009 by admin

Hands down the best Indian in Tucson. I’ve tried 3 other places and this one stands out. Daily buffet is a great deal. Reminds me of the food I use to eat in NYC. Finally some diversity of cuisine. This is a welcome addition to the Northwest area. Will be dragging my wife back there quite often.

By: TravFiend