Kumar’s At Last - Lauded Plano South Indian
by Andrew Chalk
Finally got to Kumar’s in Plano, the Indian restaurant that has been winning awards from all over the place. Interesting turnout here according to Google traffic numbers. Sunday lunchtime, everyone in Plano is there. In the evening they open at 6pm, we arrived at 6:15pm to find the door locked, and a surprised waitress who opened it “yes, we are open” (?). At 6:45pm the second table was filled and three (plus us) were full at 7:30pm when we got up to leave. There were a couple of takeout orders as well.
We started with a Melugu Raam ($5) soup. Amazing how something that looks as anemic as consommé can be so potent. Recommended, and a reorder. Cold weather remedy food. Just be ready for a wall of pepper in your mouth.
Mutton Kola Urundai ($14) is the goat meatballs in the shot below. Great starting snack from Chettinaad with a texture like falafel but made from ground dal and the flavors of an Indian spice cupboard (coriander, coconut, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and countless other ingredients. Imagine typing them out with a broken ‘c’ key on your keyboard). Think of these as the Indian counterpart to Tex-Mex’s chips and salsa -- in terms of social purpose.
Our main courses were more problematic. Boneless Mutton Curry ($16) and Saag Chicken ($14). The problem was that the sauces were almost as thin as water. The menu description of the mutton recipe says “Spicy boneless goat cubes in a thick curry”, but mine was thin. Same with the saag chicken which The Moll ordered. The thing was she ate that same dish at India House in Portland, Oregon only a month ago, and there the saag was thick. If anyone knows how these two dishes are supposed to be prepared, please respond in the comments.
A second problem was that both dishes were under seasoned. They became tiresome to work through after the high notes of the first few mouthfuls. I wonder if the regular chef was off this Sunday night? By contrast, service front of the house was always there, and smiling.
The menu is huge and I will go back to work through some more things, maybe solving the haemophiliac sauce problem on the way. Tables and booths are available. The booths are comfortable. And, I have to mention, a place with a BYOB neon sign in the front window as large as the ‘Open’ sign is my kind of place. We drank a sprightly New Zealand sauvignon blanc (2021 Jules Taylor, Marlborough) that had acid good enough to carry the unseasoned main courses the way that Daniel Craig carried the lamentable recent Bond movie. As a category, New Zealand sauvignon blanc is a reliable match with Indian cooking.
So Kumar’s rave reviews are a mystery to me. There are solid things here, but also some basic errors in the kitchen. The Dallas area is well endowed with good Indian restaurants now, especially near Plano, so a good inward look is in order.
FTC Disclosure: I paid my own bill and dined anonymously. I have no business connection with this establishment.